Putting Your Best Foot Forward During Trade Show Season

Trade show season is upon us and if it is your first time showing, you might be wondering how you can stand out amongst hundreds of other brands and thousands of products. Even if you have been on the circuit for years, you may be looking for areas to iterate on and optimize.

One old adage applies at a trade show just as it does in real estate: location, location, location. If you can get your booth on a strategic corner, you’ll be guaranteed much more traffic than if you get wedged in the middle of an aisle in the back of the biggest showroom. It can be expensive to get to the front or a high-traffic corner. However, there is a subjective element to booth placement. If you can catch a show organizer’s eye and stand out as a frontrunner, you may be bumped up a few slots. Follow these tips and put your best foot forward at your next show.

1) Have great products.

This one probably goes without saying, but of course it’s paramount. Develop great products, and they’ll get you ahead of the pack without any extra work required.

2) Perfect your story.

Your narrative is an extremely important part of your brand identity. The common way to think of it is as an “elevator pitch.” Pretend the head of merchandising for Macy’s gets on the elevator with you on the 5th floor and you have until the lobby to convince them why your products are unique and amazing. Can you tell your story in just one breath? Is it compelling, relatable, memorable? You’ll get plenty of practice repeating it over and over at the show, but try practicing it to a friend or in the mirror until you feel comfortable with what you’re saying and how you’re saying it.

3) Be consistent.

You may sell products from 1 or 100 different designers, and all of your products might make sense together in your head, but be sure to create a consistent look throughout your collection and booth. Your products should cohesively represent your distinctive perspective as a brand, and they should be visually compatible with each other. In fact, your brand should be represented very clearly in every aspect of your display. From your presentation and narrative to your logo and packaging, try to keep everything speaking the same language.

Is your brand’s font flowery and your products whimsical and girly? Your display should be playful and soft, not edgy and avant-garde. Leading the industry in party goods? Your booth better be a darn fun place to be! The featured image of this post is a great example of a fun and on-brand way to display an ordinary product (paper straws) in a special way. It draws attention without being confusing.

4) Simplify.

Finding and executing a strong brand identity is a feat in itself, so don’t overdo it. On the floor you only have a second or two to grab a buyer’s attention, so make sure you have control over what they see. By limiting your offerings to those that best represent your strengths, you’ll make it easier to be understood and noticed. Put your best foot forward, and show off what your target is looking for.

5) Be friendly! 

Buyers know that you’re selling something, but it’s important to get the right mix of extroverted and authentic. You don’t want to give the hard sell every time, but make sure everyone who walks by knows that you are ready and willing to tell them exactly who you are and why your products are the best out there. Natural and authentic confidence will go a long way, so the more good vibes and relaxed assertiveness you can project, the more comfortable buyers will feel with you (and buying from you).