Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Jen’s Trade Show Tips: Exhibiting for the First Time

Part 2 of my trade show tips series covers what you should know when exhibiting for the first time. My first experience exhibiting was at Greenbuild 2009, held in Phoenix, Arizona. My primary purpose there was to man the BuildSite booth and showcase our software to lucky passers by.

Exhibiting is very different from walking around a trade show. People come to meet you and not the other way around. While exhibiting, here is what I learned:

Trade Show Tip #5 – When registering, make sure you know where to go and have all pertinent information with you.

What an ordeal this was! My co-workers and I waited in the wrong line to get our badges. We were pre-registered, but we didn’t know we had to wait in Line 1 to “register” there again. Make sure you have all of your registration and login/password information with you. One person did all of the registering for our company and none of us could figure out what to do since we didn’t have that info on hand. Being pre-registered is no excuse as we learned. We ended up calling registration support and they authorized our registration for what seemed like hours later.

Trade Show Tip #6 – Pick up your Badge

While someone “registers” you in Line 1, have another person in Line 2 pick up your badge. This is operating under the assumption that there are two or more of you trying to get your vendor badges. If you’re alone, it takes, well, twice as long.

Trade Show Tip #7 – Timely Set-up for Electronics

Make sure that whatever you bring works both before and after you arrive. Also make sure there are clear instructions from your IT person if you are the one setting up the equipment.

We had to bring laptops and monitors and I had to be walked through the process of setting up by cell phone. I felt a lot of anxiety at the time because I could not get the connections to the monitor or internet to work. I learned my lesson; we should have been better prepared. Keep in mind, every minute you don’t have your booth set up is a minute gone from talking to potential customers.

Trade Show Tip #8 – Make your booth attractive to passers-by

I will be writing another blog post on choosing trade show promo items that don't suck, but until then, my advice is to make sure your booth looks tidy. Reduce clutter! Presentation and a first impression is everything. Good promotional items, when given room to stand out, will always attract attention.

Trade Show Tip #9 – Follow tips #2 and #3 from my previous blog post

If you thought this didn’t apply to you if you’re exhibiting, you’re wrong. Water and comfortable shoes are VERY important. You may not be walking around as much, but you’re still on your feet and you still need water.

Trade Show Tip #10 – Make nice with your booth neighbors

They will help you pass the time and hey, who knows, they might cover for you while you go on a bathroom break.

Trade Show Tip #11 - Take notes and follow-up on inquiries

After speaking with someone, take down key notes on the business card or if they didn't leave one, in your notepad. If you don't know the answer to someone's question, don't worry. Let them know that you'll follow-up with them if they leave their contact info with you.

Have any other good trade show exhibiting tips? Please include them in the comments section!

Photo credit: Melanie, Mimi, Ned, Jen, and Fran man the BuildSite booth at Greenbuild 2009.

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