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Online Exclusive: Maximize Your Trade Show

Maximizing Trade Show Effectiveness

By Robert Byhre

There will always be a need for face-to-face client interaction and product/service demonstrations. As president of Hollenbeck Exhibits in San Francisco, I feel trade shows are still the most cost-effective way to bring your message to a large audience of both customers and press. And, if managed correctly, can have a big impact on your business.

To have a successful trade show, the exhibitors have to be successful. In order to assist your exhibitors on becoming more successful at your trade show, there are some certain things that they can do to boost traffic to their booth and increase their return on investment.

So, here are my top 10 tips for trade show exhibitors. Share this information so the both of you can have a successful trade show.

1. Study the show’s floor plan and choose a high-traffic location for your booth. While many premium spaces at entrances may not be available or can command expensive rental fees, there are other options that may perform just as well. Look for a location near restrooms, food service areas, or business centers. These can save you money and be just as effective.

2. Become a repeat exhibitor. Show producers usually offer better floor locations to exhibitors that are consistent.

3. Consult with an exhibit/display expert. While you might be tempted to shop on-line at discount display outlets, the savings you might experience could pale in comparison to the business you would gain from seeking the advice of a seasoned expert. Most reputable exhibit firms will offer free design consultation that can dramatically affect your results.

4. Invest in great graphics. Print on durable materials such as Lexan or Styrene. Avoid flimsy foam core that can be damaged even before the show has started. Also, less is more when it comes to text and images. Let one large image with just a few words tell your story. It will cost you less and can be seen from further away.

5. Don’t skimp on lighting. Pay the extra fees to have electrical brought to your booth. A well lit display will draw more attention.

6. Rent or buy carpet with the best padding. Show attendees will notice and your booth staff will thank you at the end of the show.

7. Train your staff on booth etiquette. The basics: no eating, sitting, or personal conversation among staffers. Show attendees are the priority.

8. Capture your leads. Take advantage of the trade show’s lead tracking system. If they don’t have one available to you, create a contact form with a few key questions that you can complete and attach to a lead’s business card.

9. Don’t overlook the press room. If you don’t have professional public relations (PR) representation, consider it for your show. A PR expert can help you direct press to your booth and to secure interviews about your business that can support your success.

10. Follow up. Set a plan for follow up for trade show leads. Nearly 75 percent of all leads collected at a trade show are never contacted again!


Robert Byhre has more than 25 years experience in producing exhibits and displays for local, national and international events and trade shows. As president of Hollenbeck Exhibits, he and his design team have created exhibit solutions for a wide range of nationally recognized brands including Lockheed Martin, Monster Cable, Comcast and Wells Fargo Bank. www.hollenbeckexhibits.com
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