Attendee Engagement

6 Trade Show Dos and Don’ts to Attract and Engage the Audience

How to succeed at your next trade show exhibit? Check out 6 dos and don’ts to help exhibitors pull off the best event.

The swift post-pandemic recovery of the trade show industry is a testimony to the popularity of live events among exhibitors and attendees.

While trade shows have continued to prove their mettle over several decades, some businesses are still confused about participating in live events. But, on the other hand, you have others who continue reaping the valuable benefits of exhibiting at trade shows.

[READ: Are Live Trade Shows Worth It in 2023?]

So, why do live events like trade shows not work for every business? It is probably because of how they plan their exhibit. Modern consumers are not the easiest to attract and engage.

You can no longer rely on traditional event strategies and expect people to throng your trade show booth.

To help you plan better, here’s a list of 6 trade show dos and don’ts-

Trade Show Dos

#1 Create a Trade Show Engagement Strategy

While no doubt digital technologies have made it possible for us to interact virtually, millions continue to attend live events as the whole experience of face-to-face interaction with brands is unique and much more satisfying. So, as an exhibitor, you must make it worth their time. That's why an engagement strategy is necessary for every business participating in live events.

Exhibitors should look for ways to involve the visitors with their brand and build a deeper connection with them.

People should know about your brand, what you stand for as a company, your USPs, products/services, etc., so they can trust you enough to share their contact details for a follow-up at least.

Here are some trade show engagement ideas you can consider-

  • Deploy a custom trade show trivia challenge to help people learn more about your brand and collect leads
  • AR/VR-based product/service demos are also an effective way to engage the modern technology-savvy consumers
  • Have company executives or subject matter experts host presentations at your booth

[READ: How Can Trade Show Games Help You Build Better Relationships with Booth Visitors?]

#2 Select the Right Booth Staff

Your booth staff is key to helping people engage with your brand. As they represent your company at the event, choosing professional, courteous, and knowledgeable staff is vital.

You can either hire professional booth staffers or create an in-house team. Remember that with the in-house team, there's also an opportunity cost, as the people you choose to train for the event won't be able to fulfil their work responsibilities. But on the positive side, they'd probably know your company and products/services better than anybody and can be a better choice.

Here are some other tips for training your trade show booth staff-

  • Ensure they completely understand the product/service you're planning to exhibit at the event
  • If it is an in-house team, they’ll also have to master people skills and booth etiquette
  • The staff should also be well-groomed during the event to ensure your booth looks professional and approachable

[READ: Trade Show Booth Staff Training Guide]

#3 Create a Lead Follow-Up Strategy

So hopefully, with the above two, your exhibition booth was a success, and you collected plenty of leads. What next? You need to follow up with the leads. But to do this effectively, you'll need a well-planned trade show lead follow-up strategy.

Right from how the leads will be segmented to dividing the leads among your sales staff, the strategy should have a detailed plan of action so that you can take maximum advantage of the collected leads without wasting time.

Check out these tips for creating a follow-up strategy-

  • Divide the leads into hot, warm, and cold, depending on their conversion potential
  • Be creative with follow-up emails and create different email templates for hot, warm, and cold leads
  • Prefer online lead collection over physical forms, collecting business cards, or using badge scanners

Trade Show Don’ts

#4 Not Having a Trade Show Budget

Exhibiting at trade shows costs considerably. If you don't already have a budget, going overboard with the expenses is very easy. And every dollar extra you spend will make generating positive ROI/ROO more challenging.

You can check out this detailed post on “How to Create a Trade Show Budget?" to understand the budgeting process better. A sample budget template is also included in this post to save you time.

#5 Not Using Digital Strategies to Promote Your Participation

Let's face it, a good chunk of our everyday lives is spent online. So if you want more people to know about your upcoming trade show exhibit, online channels can effectively enhance your reach.

You can use your website, social media pages, emails, and even paid ads to connect with people you believe would be interested in visiting your booth.

[READ: 5 Digital Marketing Strategies to Promote Your Booth at Trade Shows]

#6 Not Being Unique with Your Giveaways

When you’re exhibiting at a trade show, you want people to remember your booth even after the event is over. One of the best ways to do this is by distributing trade show giveaways or swag. But don’t use the same old keychains, t-shirts, mesh tote bags, etc.

Giveaways are powerful marketing tools. You should select something unique and practical that connects with your brand so that people remember you every time they use the giveaway.

Some options you can consider are-

  • Product/service trial
  • Customized power bank, journal, sunglasses, etc.
  • Gift cards

[READ: Ultimate Guide to Choose the Perfect Trade Show Giveaway]

Succeeding at Trade Shows

While trade show trends change consistently, some elements have stood the test of time and allowed exhibitors to attract new business. The dos and don’ts listed above are inspired by such time-proven strategies to help you succeed with your trade show exhibit.

If you’re looking for a fun and effective way to attract and engage visitors at live events, our custom trade show trivia can help. We build entertaining trivia challenges around the core event goals of our clients to help them succeed at trade shows and meet their event goals while ensuring the event is fun and engaging.

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