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International Trade Office

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FAS Trade Show Tips

Selecting the proper booth location is an important aspect of your trade show plan.  Here are a few things to remember when selecting your space.

1. - Visibility of a National Pavilion. Exhibiting in an official USA Pavilion offers the prestige and visibility of exhibiting with other U.S. companies while keeping your own identity – your individual booth with a cost-effective complete service package.  Also, find out if your state regional trade group is participating in the event and what programs or services they might be offering.

2. - Traffic Patterns.  Study how traffic might move through the exhibit hall, and pick your location accordingly.  Note on the floor plan where high traffic volumes are, for example, near entrances or exits.  Also, don't forget potential traffic flow problem areas such as columns, empty booth spaces and loading docks.

3. - Next to Competition?  Some exhibitors debate whether or not to select space near or next to their competition at a trade show.  One suggestion:  Use a close location to your advantage. This is your chance to show what your product has over the competition.  

4 – Mock Display. Set up a mock display in your office to estimate how much product is needed for displaying and for samples.

5 - Get the Word Out! Get the word out that you’re participating in a particular trade show, by inviting your clients, customers, suppliers, and other contacts to attend the event.  (Be sure to give them all the details, such as your booth number.) 

6 - Don't Forget the Press - Ask the show organizer about press and media services.  Capturing the attention of the press and media and obtaining editorial coverage is an excellent way to increase your exposure as an exhibitor.  Be sure to advertise your upcoming trade show attendance on your web site as well.

7 – Booth Design:  Select Your Graphics Carefully - Simple, bold and clear images are the most effective in creating a memorable canvas for your selling story.  Ornate, involved, mysterious and confusing art and graphics might be great to look at but can be distracting and much less effective as a backdrop for your trade show message. 

8 - Giveaways Can Increase Booth Traffic by 50 Percent.  A trade show promotional item given away at your booth can help draw traffic, create recall after the show, and provide contact information in a unique and memorable way.  Personally and selectively hand out giveaways to visitors with whom you speak to and who represent potential clients.  The secret to getting the most visibility from the dollars is to choose gifts that people will want to use once they return to their homes or offices.  Also, select a promotional item in which your key contact information and message can easily be imprinted. 

7 - Spending Time with the Right Visitor.  Ask qualifying questions. You want to know who you're talking to, who they work for, and in what capacity. This will help you determine if the attendee is a prospective customer or not.  Don’t be afraid to encourage people to move along if they're not interested in your products or services. Some of the people like to discuss everything, but buy nothing. You don't want to waste your time with them, but remain courteous.

8 - Don't Leave Home Without These.  There are certain company forms, phone lists, sales tools, brochures, sample kits, and so on, that are indispensable at trade shows. Assemble these into one packet or binder that you hand-carry to the show yourself. This way you'll have all the answers to any questions that might come up on-site right at your fingertips.

9 – It’s all about Representation - Ensure those working the show are well trained to fully represent your company, generate leads, and secure sales.

10 – What Not to do While In the Booth.  There are bound to be periods when booth traffic slows down.  So remember not to let your guard down and get caught being unprofessional.  Some things not to do include:  Ignoring prospects by chatting with colleagues, leaving the booth unattended, standing with your back to the aisle, sitting, reading or eating in the booth, talking on the booth telephone and letting your booth get cluttered, unorganized or untidy.  Sometimes you only get one chance to impress, so make it a good experience for all.

11 – The 80/20 Rule – Learn the 80/20 rule and take it to heart.  The best exhibitors are those who listen 80% of the time and talk 20% of the time.  Focusing on attendees’ wants and needs is a surefire route to success.

12 – Know Your Stuff - Have a clear and catchy 15-second sound bite about your company that's well-rehearsed by your entire show staff.  Remember the goal is to be able to further the conversation.

13 – Take advantage of resources at a Trade Show.  Many times U.S. companies overlook services provided that could help with meetings and future sales.  Take advantage of the International Trade Center whenever available.  It is an excellent place to get a copy of the trade show Export Directory with U.S. companies interested in exporting,  It is also a resource to meet with potential International buyers visiting the trade show.

14 – Booth Survival Kit – Water, aspirin, Eye Drops, Band-Aids and Tums and breath mints can keep you functioning at 100%. Water is needed to keep hydrated.  Trade show lights, noise and physical stress can cause headaches. Eye irritation can be bothersome if you have allergies. Eye drops can refresh and soothe weary eyes and give the added relief to both contact and no-contact wears. It never fails somebody will require a Band-Aid or safety pin so it’s best to have them on hand. Finally a breath mint can provide the energy boost you need at the end of a long day  to help make that sale.

15 – Know In Advance Who Your Audience Is -   Research a show carefully before you decide to exhibit.   Ask yourself, Does this show attract a large number of people from your target audience?  Trade show participation takes a lot of time, energy and resources. You don't want to spend them on folks who are unlikely ever to do business with you.

16 Presenting Your Company and Services -   Be open to creative and new ways of presenting your services. Trade show attendees see hundreds of exhibits in the course of one day. You need to be unique and engaging for your display to be memorable.

17 – Attend a Trade Show that Matches Your Goals -   Before attending a trade show check out these three things.  Does the trade show attract large crowds?  Is the location of the show easy to reach? Lastly, is the trade show being adequately promoted.  Trade shows can be very costly.  Get the most out of your budget and experience.  

 Source: FAS Trade Show Tid Bits


NCDA&CS International Trade Office, Peter Thornton, Assistant Director
Mailing Address: 1020 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1020
Physical Address: 2 W. Edenton Street, Room 411, Raleigh NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3153; FAX: (919) 715-0083