Exhibiting is expensive, especially for a small business, and when comparing your efforts to the larger companies surrounding you, it’s hard not to worry about getting lost in the shuffle. Here are five free ways you can stand out as an exhibitor by investing a little extra time and attention (instead of cash) to impress your target audience.
1 – Revise your company description
Your company description (often included for free in online and printed event directories produced by show management) is the most overlooked opportunity to effectively market your company. Attendees plan their time on the show floor according to these listings. Stand out by taking full advantage of your presence within this resource. Hook your target audience with a great opening, highlight your unique offerings, and make yourself easy to find by providing clear contact information.
2 – Cut the clutter
Organize your booth to minimize distractions and allow your company’s offerings to shine. Remove unnecessary furnishings (like trash cans and chairs) and don’t bother bringing redundant literature or boring giveaways. Don't put barriers across your booth (like long counter tables) that separate you from attendees. If you have trained your staff properly, the attendees who come into your booth will be focused on your offerings and remember your company positively for your clear message.
3 – Say hello
It doesn’t cost anything to maintain a positive attitude for full show hours and warmly greet each of the attendees walking by your booth. Remember that trade shows provide sensory and information overload to the attendees. If you don’t say anything, your target audience might not even notice you’re there. When you choose to engage those passing by, you provide them with an extra opportunity to become aware of your company and its offerings.
4 – Maximize your time outside of the booth
Even when you aren’t working in your booth, be present outside of set show hours. Attendees will notice and see that you care about participating in the event and that you are interested in strengthening connections. In order to accomplish this, you will need to schedule your time before you arrive – set appointments with clients, prospects, or partners for each of your meals, review the event agenda to select networking functions and educational sessions to attend, and plan to spend any free time in the hotel lobby or other areas where you are likely to encounter attendees. Also, keep a copy of your schedule in the booth so that additional meetings can be added on the fly.
5 – Follow up
Rumor has it that 80% of leads obtained at trade shows do not receive any follow up contact. This means that you will stand out from most of the other exhibitors just by taking whatever time is necessary to reach out to your visitors after the event has concluded. I recommend creating a plan before you leave for your trade show so that you will be able to jump right into calling, emailing, or using other methods to follow up immediately upon your return.
The best way for a small companies to stand out amongst all of the larger exhibitors participating in your event is to invest extra time, not money, in your exhibiting efforts.