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Trade Shows

The internet has made an impact on the tradeshow market, but there are still instances where setting up a booth at a tradeshow is a great way to make contacts, sell merchandise, or find people.

Finding the right show is still a challenge. If you sell handmade weathervanes, you might get lost in a craft show but be a standout at a home improvement show. Find out where the people who buy your products and services go to meet regularly, and set up shop there.

Exhibiting requires some advanced planning and focus. Here are a few hints:

  • Create a exhibit that stands out from traditional booth displays. Use large graphics and skip the show-supplied signs. And don't hide behind a table; lose it and get out front to meet the people who walk by.
  • Place your booth where show traffic is heavy (such as on a corner, near a large exhibitor, or along major thoroughfares. Avoid setting up back in the corner, or directly next to bathrooms or food concessions (the smell and trash ruins your image.)
  • Avoid the the pitfalls that plague exhibitors such as wasting money on gimmicky giveaways while skimping on lighting or backdrops, or rushing to put a booth together at the last minute.
  • If you have a big booth, you'll need show labor to set it up. It's expensive in New York, least expensive in Florida. Booth space is similarly priced.
  • Look your best (you and the booth!) Make sure displays are neatly organized and literature is not scattered around. Booth staff should be attentive and listen to customers--not aggressively "hook" them into the booth. Of course, you shouldn't smoke, drink, eat, joke loudly or act rudely while in your booth.
  • Take a break occasionally and walk around to see what "the competition" is doing. You'll get new ideas. Emulate the booths where people are stacked three deep waiting to see the presentation.

Finally, remember to follow up on leads immediately after the show -- no more than a day or two after your leads return home.
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