How To Make a Great First Impression at a Trade Show
Many industries have trade shows. These events allow you to share about your business while connecting with fellow professionals within your industry. If you’ve never been to a trade show before or have struggled to make lasting impressions in the past, then you may think these shows are pointless. However, if you know how to make a great first impression at a trade show, you can turn the experience into lasting success for your business.
Create a High-Quality Booth
Most trade shows allow each individual business to set up a booth advertising their products and services. These booths are typically made up of a backdrop and a table, creating a temporary cubicle of sorts so you have private space to share about your business and meet with people.
Those walking around the trade show will notice the booth first; this is why you must invest in a high-quality display that draws people in. Use bright colors that relate to your business or industry, such as your company’s logo colors, or colors related to what you do, such as green for environmental work. Center your table at the front of your allotted floor space so people can navigate your booth without getting stuck at the table. If your space is big enough to accommodate multiple tables, consider using round ones so people don’t bump into the corners, and place the tables in the corner sections of your space so people can easily reach all of them.
You can add more to your booth than the traditional backdrop and table. Bring your own lighting so people can clearly see you and the information you have on display. Arrange chairs so you and your guests can comfortably sit down. Seating is often sparse at these events, which means people may come to your booth just to give their feet a break. That gives you an opportunity to connect with someone you may not have met otherwise.
Plan for Real Interactions
Trade shows are about interacting and connecting with other people and businesses. However, they’re also busy events that often force people to have brief interactions instead of deeper conversations. Those brief interactions can create positive relationships for your business, but they’re also easy to forget. Planning for interactions that last longer than a few minutes by creating conversation and connections is necessary if you want to make a great first impression.
There are several ways to make these meaningful interactions happen. Playing games and doing trivia are some of the best ways to create fun, memorable connections with the people around your booth at any given time. Since you can’t play games constantly, you can spend downtime between games holding conversations with game contestants. Games help break down any awkward introductions, which means you can immediately jump into deeper conversations about yourselves and your businesses.
You can plan for interactions away from your booth as well. Bring enough marketing materials to leave some at your table and carry the rest around. Send people out with smiling faces and adequate materials to talk to those who may not know which booths they want to stop at or who they want to connect with. While these interactions may not last as long as the ones at your booth, they can draw people to your booth, where you can create deeper connections.
Offer Free Giveaways
The reason you and others are at a trade show is because you’re all successful businesses in your field. No matter how successful you are, though, the idea of getting something for free is still tantalizing. Offering free giveaways at your booth is a great way to not only flaunt your success, but draw in those who may not have stopped for conversation alone.
You can tie your free giveaways into the games or trivia you host at your booth, offering the freebies as prizes for the winners. If you want to provide equal opportunity giveaways, give free items to all participants or anyone who stops by the booth. Use these giveaways to prompt conversations, or give them at the end of a conversation to thank someone for their time.
Advertising booth giveaways or other free giveaways on social media can help you connect with people and make a lasting impression. Offer a free gift when someone starts following you on a social platform, or advertise free giveaways they can enter through your social media page. If you offer these giveaways along with some helpful tips and other interesting prospects on your social media, people will continue to follow you after the event and you can maintain those connections.
Train Your Team
The colors, games, and prizes at your booth won’t matter if your team isn’t properly trained for these types of events. Your booth runners are the ones who will make or break the first impression someone has of you and your business. Carefully select the team members who will attend the trade show with you or for you; choose people who are charismatic, good listeners, and empathetic.
Train these chosen team members on the services, products, and company information they should highlight while at the trade show. Make sure they understand how to start professional small talk and how to dress professionally for the event. Everything from their smiles to their shoes matter at these one-time events, and it’s your job to prepare them so their success can become your success.
Remember Your Business Cards
Knowing how to make a great first impression at a trade show means knowing how to turn that first impression into a lasting impression. While the people you and your team meet will hopefully remember your booth, your games, your prizes, and how you interacted with them, they may not have something to take home with them as a reminder of your business. Your business card is one of the only guaranteed ways trade show attendees will take something home to associate with meeting you.
People receive a lot of business cards at trade shows, so yours needs to stand out. Design a custom set of cards for your booth and for your team to hand out. These cards should feature a color scheme that relates to your booth, business, or industry. Add something unique, such as a special finish, die-cut design, QR code, or picture so the recipient can tell yours apart from the rest.
Custom business cards are the key to lasting impressions at trade shows and beyond. SilkCards is happy to help you design and print these cards so you and your business are always ready to connect. We provide free samples if you want to test our business cards or other products, allowing you to find exactly what you’re looking for.