Make The Most Of Your Fall Trade Show: From Setup To Takedown

Today’s the big day!  You’ve taken the time and put forth the commitment to select the appropriate trade show, you’ve created a strategy and set objectives for the day, you’ve ordered your promotional items and marketing materials, you’ve marketed your booth, and you’ve even picked the perfect outfit for the day.  All you have to do now is show up.  Right?  Not if you want to maximize the impact of your presence.

The Perfect Setup

Arrive early enough to properly setup your booth.  If possible, setup the night before.  You do not want to be finalizing details at the start of the show.  After your booth is setup, step back and look at it from different angles.  Look at your booth through the eyes of your customers.  Can you easily identify your giveaway?  Does your booth look organized?  Does anything look out of place?  Make adjustments accordingly.

Your Actions Do Speak Louder than Words

Rule #1:  BE ENGAGING.  Stand and greet people.  Do not sit behind the table.  Sitting behind the table immediately puts a block between you and your prospects.  Be friendly.  Engage individuals in conversation.  Ask open-ended questions.  Show that you are interested in the challenges they face.  Pay attention to your body language.  Are your arms crossed?  Do you appear bored or uninterested?  Offer a friendly greeting.  Make each and every prospect feel that they are the most important person to you.  With that said, be genuine.  You really can learn from everyone.  Everyone knows something or someone that you don’t or has a viewpoint that you may not have thought of.

Systemically Track Your Leads

You will not remember!  Remember this and you will be better off than most vendors.  Today is the day to apply your lead generation tracking system.  Ask interested parties for their business card or ask them to fill out a registration slip.  Mark their name or use a system of stars to identify how strong of a prospect that person is.  Make sure you apply some type of rating system to your leads.

Promoting Your Booth During the Show

If you’re not promoting your show during the show, you are missing opportunities.  Tweet an image from you show.  Make a post of your Facebook page.  Capture images with people, not just of your booth setup.  You want the images to be engaging.  If you’re offering a giveaway, promote the giveaway.  Specify your booth number or location.  Engage your audience so they can find you.  Be sure to capture additional images for your website, blogs and other future promotional material.

Work the Show Backwards

Make a point to visit other vendors.  Are other vendors potential clients?  A trade show is an excellent venue to look for new strategic alliances and referral partners.  If you’re at a trade show where attendees are in sessions part of the day, use that time to visit the other vendors.  If you have a non-stop flow of traffic, try to arrange for another member of your team to visit the vendor booths or to take charge of your booth for a period so you can meet with the other vendors.

Emergency Box

No matter how much planning you do, something is likely to go wrong.  Be prepared by making a simple emergency box for the day.  Include extra pens, pins, tape, markers, phone numbers of anyone involved in the execution of your booth, a stapler, a few extra clips that match what you use to hang/display items, and a power charger for your phone.  If you have a presentation, bring an extra copy on a flash drive.   You can never go wrong with duct tape, and a few mints can come in handy too.

Booth Teardown

You’re tired, you’re exhausted, and you just want to go home.  Avoid the inclination to simply ‘throw’ everything in the car to go through later.  Marketing materials and signage are not cheap.  Take the time to properly pack and load them to avoid damage.  If you use display material, fold or neatly roll it.  Organize all of your trade show items before packing.  You will thank yourself when you put together your next show.


You should have scheduled a block of time over the next few days to follow up with hot leads.  Call interested parties.  Arrange meetings when appropriate.  If you have their permission, add them to your email-marketing list and send them a copy of your latest newsletter.  Follow your plan.  Timing is critical.  Make the most of the money you have invested in the trade show by following up in a professional manner.

Are trade shows right for you?  Find out here.


Need help putting together and executing a trade show plan?  The Edmiston Group can help you facilitate your trade show strategy with our comprehensive trade show packages.  Contact Autumn Edmiston at 724-612-0755 for details.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group.  The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long term basis.  Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business growth.

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