There comes a time in the career of every sales manager, entrepreneur or business owner, when exhibiting at a trade show seems like a pretty good idea. And it can be, if you use your exhibition budget wisely.


There is more to an exhibition than just setting up a trade show booth and waving at passers-by. Exhibitions are a great way to meet clients, find new staff, identify dealers, troubleshoot and work out industry positioning and of course, network.


The following tips will help make your next trade show more successful.


Tip 1: Spend Some Serious Time Planning

Spend as long as possible defining your goals for your exhibition.


Develop a strategy to market your booth before the exhibition begins. Send a postcard, an email blast or news release to your clients and the media and generate some buzz. Ensure your marketing materials are eye-catching with a simple headline.


Tip 2: Focus your Exhibition Display

Make your display design as focused as your overall exhibition approach. The graphics on your display should be as simple as possible – tell your story in five or six words; something that people cruising by will understand quickly.


Try designing two sided business cards with your photograph and contact details on the front, and a list of benefits on the back.


Tip 3: Choose Your Floor Location Carefully

Your location is key. Try to get a booth near a corner, an island, or a peninsula because of traffic flow and visibility.


Make sure you stand at your exhibit booth. Sitting sends the message that you’re not interested or engaged. People will just keep walking.


Tip 4: Network, but do it Right

Make the most of networking, but don’t spread yourself too thin.


While it may be tempting to collect as many business cards as you can, think quality, not quantity. Between five to ten quality connections is better per trade show.


Don’t forget to work the room. Designate people to staff your booth while you move around. Talk to people, invite them to your booth, and don’t rely on them taking the time to walk by.


Don’t forget to follow up. A trade show is only as good as the connections it makes. Email, call or send a handwritten note, but don’t leave it too long. Within the week following the trade show is a great time frame to stay top of mind.


Tip 5: Can’t Afford It? Go Anyway

If you can’t afford the price of a spot at an exhibition, go anyway. Ask for a free pass to the exhibition area.


Walk around and network. Introduce yourself, tell people what you do and exchange cards. You may be able to get as much value out of it as if you had a exhibition booth.