Today’s guest post is from Reggie Lyons, our go to trade show expert from Skyline.  In today’s post he shares some great tips for anyone getting ready for fall and spring trade shows

Face to face marketing is more important now that it has ever been in building your small business. One of the most effective ways to get in front of prospective clients is by exhibiting at trade shows. This gives you as a small business owner the opportunity to give your brand a face. Here are five critical steps to your trade show success!

1) Determine Your Budget: Consider not only the cost to exhibit in the show and the display but also travel expenses. Also, consider the freight needed to ship your display and whether you will need assistance with install & dismantle of your display (depending on size). Don’t be afraid to start small, but also remember this is the face of your organization that you are representing.

2) Establish which shows are the best for your business. Reach out to your peers and clients in your industry and ask them which shows they’ve attended or exhibited at in the past. Consider going to the show yourself as an attendee before committing as an exhibitor to get a feel for the event.

3) Booth Design: Think Billboard, NOT Bulletin Board! You’ve got 3-5 seconds to catch someone’s eye as they stroll the show floor. Use eye-catching graphics that help tell attendees who you are and what you do. Keep text to a minimum, your display is a tool to drive traffic to your booth.

4) Show Promotions: Utilize social media, mobile marketing or email to promote your presence at the show. Give attendees a reason to stop by your booth! Let them know about new products that will be showcased, giveaways, speakers, or demonstrations.

5) Booth Staffing: This is the most important of them all! If you don’t have a plan for engaging and qualifying the people that stop by your booth you’ve wasted a lot of money! Discuss your expectations with booth staffers. Review housekeeping issues i.e. no eating in the booth, sitting, use of cell phones etc. Cover all the bases to ensure there are no surprises once it’s show time. Role-play scenarios for engaging attendees before you get to the show. Smile! Be careful not to oversell and listen to the needs of your prospects.

Lastly, after returning from the show, have a post show recap to get feedback from your team to discuss what went well and opportunities for improvement. Have a discussion while this is still fresh in everyone’s mind. Contact the prospects from the show and email/mail any post show literature, quotes etc.

About Reggie:

Reggie Lyons is a Trade Show Marketing Consultant for Skyline Exhibits by Larry Reitz & Associates. Reggie works with Indiana companies on creating trade show booths and displays and is also a contributor to the Skyline Trade Show Tips blog. You can also follow him on Twitter @RegLyons.