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Tips for Participating in Trade Shows

by Patricia Bean and Cathie Izor

If you set up a table or staff a booth at a trade show, here are tips for making your display and participation more effective. Also, check out the photos from previous Entrepreneur Fest events.

  • Bring an associate or friend who can help you with your booth or table. This gets you help with setup and takedown. And, it gives you the opportunity to take breaks or visit for a longer time with a potential customer.
  • Make an eye catching display. Use products, photographs and/or flowers. Add interest by using colored scarves as a table covering. A bowl of candy or other free items attract attention, too.
  • Make your business statement clear and concise by using appropriate signs. Print your mission statement and the benefits of doing business with you.
  • Think vertical! Rather than laying out brochures and samples flat on the table top, create upright posters and place products and brochures at different levels. Use brochure and business card holders. Put boxes underneath scarves or fabrics to create platforms at different heights. However, take care your display does not block the view or access to other tables or booths.
  • Print all signs, captions, sign-up sheets, etc. professionally or with your computer. Don't use hand-lettering.
  • Use this opportunity to gather contact information for potential customers. Ask for business cards from people interested in your service or product. Have a basket to collect cards for a drawing for a free product, service or gift basket. Use this information for direct mail or e-mail promotions. A good ice breaker is a friendly greeting directing folks to your basket for the giveaway. Depending on your business, have an electronic device that allows prospects to enter their own information in your contact list.
  • Make sure you set up your table or booth EARLY so that you can take the time to circulate around the event and talk to other vendors. They are potential customers, too, and have less chance to visit your display. Collect their business cards for contact after the event.
  • Show your enthusiasm for your business by sharing a new product you are excited about or a new skill you recently acquired. Show samples or give a demonstration of what you do.

And, of course, sell products, network, make new friends and share your ideas with others!

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