Trade show booth must-haves: Everything you need to stand out at events

Meeting new customers: it's not only the lifeblood of your small business, it's the reason you bring your business to events. It doesn't matter whether you're exhibiting at an international trade show or selling your wares at a local fair, personal connections count.

In fact, a survey of 10,000 small and medium-sized business owners found 71% secured new clients from face-to-face networking.

That’s a lot of new business.

But, with so many exhibitors vying for attention, how do you cut through the noise?

It comes down to standing out and pulling people in with an impossible-to-ignore set of trade show essentials.

1. Posters are an affordable way to announce sales and events

Easy to create and hard to miss, posters are the simplest way to present promotions, products, services or upcoming events.

Tip: Focus on your business name and announcement — keep text to a minimum. You can go into more detail in your marketing materials.

2. Banners make a bold statement

Whether you hang them on the wall or mount them on a stand, trade show banners broadcast your message loud and clear. What’s more, since they’re durable, you can use your banners for multiple events.

Tip: Make sure your text and logo stand out against the background colour.

3. Foam board signs draw people in

Attract customers to your booth with eye-catching foam boards. Mount them on the wall or on an easel for an effective standalone sign. Easel-mounted foam board signs are lightweight and easy to move around when the venue fills up, making them ideal for directing people to your booth.

Tip: Entice attendees onto your stand by announcing a special offer, free sample or presentation.

4. Branded clothing gives you a signature look

Look smart and present a professional image with custom polos featuring your logo. A consistent look helps you stand out from the crowd and promotes your business even when you’re not manning your booth.

Tip: Use your brand colours to make it easy for people to know which company you represent.

So, once you’ve drawn people in, what can you do to stand out?

Events get busy and it’s not always possible to chat with everyone. A coherent suite of marketing materials lets your business speak for itself. By putting your business benefits in a detailed folded leaflet or flyer, you encourage people to get excited about what you offer.

Tip: Focus on your business name and announcement — keep text to a minimum. You can go into more detail in your marketing materials.

5. Flyers help you reach new customers on the go

Flyers are a simple but effective way to drive traffic to your booth. What’s more, you can hand them out on the go in and around the venue.

Tip: Include a trade show-specific offer to generate even more interest and give people a reason to stop by your booth.

6. Folded leaflets have space to tell your story

Folded leaflets are ideal for presenting your products and services in greater detail. This is your chance to tell your business story and differentiate yourself from the competition.

Tip: Try showing the breadth of products you offer, adding a price list, or telling the unique story of how your company started out.

7. Postcards make handy takeaways and thank you cards

Postcards are versatile – try using them as coupons during the trade show, or sending a special offer to new contacts after the event. Follow up with new contacts afterward by sending a thank you postcard. These are the touches that customers don't forget

Tip: Give people a reason to pick up your postcards by making discount codes easy to spot at a glance.

How can you be remembered?

Event marketing doesn’t stop when you take down your stand. Following up with people is a huge opportunity to create a good impression. People attending a trade show or fair speak to a lot of exhibitors and other attendees. Giving people a reason to remember you is essential.

Did you share some interesting findings or advice?

Or did you give out prizes and take time to connect with the winners?

8. Free consultations encourage new business

Offering your time to attendees creates an opportunity to find out the typical challenges facing potential clients. Set aside some time in your schedule to sit down with people and offer them your expertise.

Tip: Create time slots on a poster and let people sign up for a free consultation. These informal conversations give you valuable information about what people need and may even win some new business.

9. Giveaways get people involved with your business

Branded giveaways like water bottles, USB flash drives and drawstring backpacks keep your business top-of-mind long after the event is over.

Tip: Make your giveaways useful and relevant. This creates positive associations with your business whenever the lucky winners use their prize.

10. Business cards make connections more personal

According to Exhibitor online, collecting business cards is still the most popular way to gather leads. After all, effective networking is about making authentic and longstanding real-life connections. And while sending contact information via email or LinkedIn is convenient, it’s less personal. Sharing your business card while maintaining eye contact and conversation is a much more considered approach. First impressions count, and your body language is one of the most influential factors in creating rapport with people the first time you meet.

Tip: Discover the 10 golden rules for designing your business card.

11. Tote bags carry your brand beyond the trade show

Everyone is on the lookout for cool swag. Providing a means to carry it about creates positive associations with your brand. Practical gifts like customised tote bags get you brand exposure all over the trade show floor and long after the event.

Tip: Fill your tote bags with marketing materials to guarantee attendees take your information home.

12. Hosting a talk makes you memorable

People want to learn from experienced business owners and industry specialists. Hosting a talk or panel discussion on your stand helps position you as a business that provides real value to attendees. Talks are also a great opportunity for people to share photos of your stand as they post event updates to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Tip: Book a meeting room or conference area ahead of the event in case it’s too noisy on the trade show floor.

It's fair to say that for making personal and memorable connections, nothing replaces face-to-face interactions. Countless studies show that while it might feel daunting, exhibiting at a trade show is likely to have a positive effect on your business. EventTrack reports that 85% of consumers are likely to buy products from a business after taking part in trade show events OR experiences. And 91% have more positive feelings about brands they’ve interacted with in person.

Those are compelling numbers. So instead of just attending an event, wouldn't you rather own your next trade show? Vistaprint can help you reach that goal.

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