The whole package

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Trade shows offer a powerful opportunity for brands to engage potential customers. Being an exhibitor can be an expensive experience — in the cost of floor space alone — so there’s a lot riding on a show that usually lasts only a couple of days. And yet, visiting a trade show recently, I was surprised at the number of exhibitors that failed to impact their “captive” audience in a meaningful way.

A well-planned trade show presence starts months before the show when marketing plans are developed, creative briefs written, photos chosen and edited, displays designed, banners produced, brochures printed, giveaways packaged. Every inch of the booth is mapped out. All the details are carefully pored over. Yet this is still not enough. Because having a booth at a trade show is really about PEOPLE. It’s about interacting with potential clients, engaging them in the best way possible — face to face.

If you’re planning to be an exhibitor, don’t make the mistake of neglecting to consider audience experience. Make sure, for example, that you have enough staff to cover all hours of the show and ensure they’re properly trained to present your brand’s story. I attended the National Home Show and Canada Blooms earlier this year and observed that the busiest, liveliest booths were ones that had lots of staff on hand. To be sure, they had impressive displays, noticeably branded shirts and lots of swag or printed product literature to give away — but just as important, they had people that customers could connect with. A trade show booth isn’t about being exceptional at one thing, it’s about doing many things exceptionally including a whole lotta human interaction.

Anyone who visits your booth should of course come away with a really good picture of what it is that you can do for them, and perhaps some great marketing material to review later on. But please prepare to engage your visitors while you have that golden opportunity to speak with them face to face. That’s why you paid the big bucks to BE there.

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