Trade shows are tremendous opportunities to attract new prospects for the organizations that choose to make their booth space magnetic. A magnetic space should attract customers, not repel them. Here are a few positive charge areas to explore to make the most of your booth space investment and networking time commitment.


Sounds easy, but it’s rarely done. Decrease the stress related to trade shows by starting the planning process no later than six weeks prior to the event. This gives you proper time to research, design and produce displays, customize marketing materials, order promotional products and schedule staff. All trade show related tasks should be completed no later than two weeks prior to the event.


Investing in a trade show event is a sales opportunity and every sales opportunity should have realistic quantitative goals attached. For a two-hour event, here are a few examples of goals that may be applicable: Obtain 10 qualified leads, collect 60 names for mailing list or shake hands with 50 people. Once you set these goals, you need the right staff to reach them.


The days of sitting behind an eight-foot table and letting your display board sell your cause are over. Your booth staff needs to be interactive with passersby. This means getting out from behind the booth, shaking hands and asking the right questions. If your staff isn’t comfortable doing this, get someone who is. For example, if someone asks your booth staff member, so, what does your business do? you need to have the right salesperson in place to make a memorable first impression.


Customize your booth features, messaging and offerings to the people who will be at the event. Offer a limited-time special incentive just for people who visit your booth at the trade show.


There will be many booths at trade shows. What will make you different so that people remember you? Take the time to brainstorm with employees to create a unique booth concept or selling proposition. You can reinforce your meetings with booth visitors with a follow-up call or letter within one week.


Whether you’ve got a drawing for a free cruise or you’re giving free massages in exchange for business cards; get the contact information of the people you meet. This information exchange is the catalyst to a new beginning for greater revenue.


Invest in a professional display that you will be proud to use at trade shows for years to come. Your organization’s brand image is on the line at a trade show. It’s just like inviting someone to your office. You may want to think about not allowing booth staffers to drink alcohol at the booth since the goal is a positive first impression.


Each booth member should receive training on Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) about your company. Make sure you’ve got enough marketing materials to go around. Get to the event in time to set up without being rushed.


Leverage your networking time commitment. Add a banner to your Web site to let people know that you’ll be at the event. Some people feel less intimidated meeting for the first time at a trade show rather than at your office. It also shows the public that you are active in the community.


Don’t forget about the other booth vendors. Ask them to stop by when you are setting up, and be sure to make the rounds to other booths as well. Make sure you have at least two people at your booth space to cover all the opportunities.


During the trade show, keep track of the people you meet; it might be a good idea to take some notes on what you talked about and with whom. Afterwards, send out letters on company letterhead the next day to people you met.


Two weeks after the event, add up your return on investment by evaluating the entire process. Did we have the right people in position to make a first impression? Did we reach our quantitative goals? Did the follow-up communication go out in time?

These are just a few pointers to think about. You and your team will come up with many more ideas to be attractive, not repellent, in your committee meetings. See you at the next trade show!