Posted by : Amanda Stein Monday, May 20, 2013

Trade shows are a great way to gain exposure for your business and attract interested, relevant customers. They also provide companies with a way to evaluate the competition and learn from others in the industry. The benefits of these events are numerous, but a large-scale exposition of this kind can be a nerve-wracking experience for first-timers.

Read on for five simple steps you can take to ensure that your first trade show exhibit is a success.

Do your research

The more prepared you are for your first exhibit, the more you can gain from the experience. There are hundreds of different trade show events across the country for a variety of different industries. Find one that’s the ideal fit for your organization. If you’ve never exhibited at a trade show before, it’s a good idea to attend several as a guest before you go as a vendor. Look around you. Learn what you like and don’t like from the different displays. Figure out what set-up is most conducive to attracting a crowd and making sales simply by observing and reading up on the topic as much as possible.

Prep your team

When it comes to a successful trade show event, make sure you bring your A-team. This fast-paced atmosphere is not for new hires or slowpokes. Before the event, rehearse the different situations so anyone on your team can interact with visitors and make the same, effective pitch. There is no room for a weakest link when it comes to your trade show crew. If you don’t sell your products to the absolute best of your ability, potential customers might wander off and settle on a booth with superior service.

Set up as early as possible

No matter how prepared you feel for your first expo, something is always going to slip your mind. To avoid catastrophe, get set-up as early as the organizers will allow. The earlier you discover the missing product or sick team member or whatever else goes wrong, the better equipped you will be to deal with it and power through the crisis. With enough warning, there is almost always time to smooth over any issue and have a successful show.

Embrace color

There are few things that make a booth as visually appealing and enticing to a customer as color. In a room full of booths with hundreds or thousands of different products, you can help make your company stand out with a pretty, eye-catching display. Though some exhibitors feel as if the merchandise will speak for itself, the goal of the trade show is to get people into your booth first so you can wow them with the product later. Create brightly colored signs and decorations ahead of time and stick with a consistent color theme so customers will recognize your booth and your brand each time they walk by.

Put your name on everything

Many exhibitors have learned the hard way that every piece of the display should have a contact name and phone number on it to avoid losing important pieces of equipment. Things can feel chaotic during the set-up and break down process and the last thing you want is someone accidentally throwing away a critical piece of your booth. If it has your name on it, that should make it clear it’s not trash. Label everything before you start packing for the expo, so there’s one less step when you arrive to set-up.

Your first trade show exhibit is always going to be a stressful experience and there is plenty of room for error along the way. The good news is, at some point, it was everyone’s first time, so you’re not alone in feeling overwhelmed. Do your best to plan ahead and have contingency plans in place to prevent a crisis. If you take these five tips to heart, you can consider yourself in good shape for your first exposition.

This is a guest post by Bev Gray. Bev is the CEO of Exhibit Edge, a trade show display and exhibit company.

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