Trade Show

Six Steps to Rule the ATA Trade Show Floor

An eye-catching display lures attendees to your booth and provides an opportunity to promote your products and services at the ATA Trade Show.
Photo Credit: ATA/Shane Indrebo

Author: Cassie Scott

Exhibiting at the 2017 ATA Trade Show can benefit your company’s brand and finances. Learn how to lure in attendees, educate them about your products or services, and get the most bang for your buck in Indianapolis with these six steps.

1.  Make your booth attractive and inviting.

Your booth should be clean and simple, yet bright and eye-catching. An article on Entrepreneur.com said, “A big mistake newbies make is overpacking their booths with furniture and inventory.” The writer, Michelle Goodman, notes that a crowded booth or a rectangle table across the front of your space prevents customers from entering, which hampers networking and business. Map out your booth beforehand to ensure people have room to walk around and mingle.

Another tactic – suggested by Leslie Mueller in her article about exhibitor tips – is to use a computer game, a contest drawing or a scheduled demonstration to attract an audience. Or just provide a few chairs for people who tire of walking and standing. Give them a place just to sit down in your booth.

2. Be friendly.

Dana Ostomel, founder of Deposit a Gift, has exhibited at trade shows and reveals 10 tips to dominate the show floor. One simple tip is encouraging exhibitors to make eye contact, smile and “create a list of ‘pick-up lines’ to help initiate conversations.”

Another writer, Jill Tooley, shared some tips in her article Trade Show Tricks for Vendors and Exhibitors: 9 Truths You Should Know and Plan For. “Attendees are more likely to approach you if you acknowledge their presence.” Saying hello or engaging in a quick, “I’ll be right over” might be the initial contact an attendee is seeking. Just remember to be a person before turning into a salesperson.

Welcome booth visitors and establish rapport by smiling, making eye contact and quickly initiating conversation. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo/ATA

3. Speak the right language.

Once someone is in your space and you’ve established a rapport, be ready with an irresistible pitch. A well-crafted presentation informs, educates and appeals to a majority of attendees. Goodman thinks you must have “a spirited, engaging pitch that presents the solution to a specific customer need, preferably in a minute or less.” Read each visitor’s body language and engagement level, and adapt your message as necessary.

Learn how to perfect your presentation by reading Candy Adams’ article Get Your Act Together.

4. Take business cards and notes.

Talking to hundreds of people in just a few days can be confusing. You must remember many people and specific conversations, and learn how folks use your services based on their concerns or questions. “Avoid (confusion) by writing down parts of your conversation on the person’s business card to make a follow-up email or call easier,” Ostomel said. Organize their cards into two piles: one for people you want to contact immediately, and the other for those who can wait.

On the flip side, Tooley recommends exhibitors give attendees something tangible like a business card or promo item before letting them walk away. “Not every show attendee is there to buy right away,” Tooley said. Let them remember you from your giveaways. Tooley also recommends mailing lists for keeping the “I’m just looking” crowd on your radar after the show.

A well-crafted presentation informs, educates and appeals to a majority of attendees. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo/ATA

5. Use social media for promotions and as a measure of success.

Mueller believes in the power and importance of social media, and suggests exhibitors post to the trade show’s social accounts, as well as their own. This helps draw crowds during the show and provides a measure of success after the show. Post pictures, videos and informational tidbits to intrigue and capture your audience.

Engage with the ATA Trade Show on social media by using the hashtag #ATA2017 on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

6. Go out, have fun, market and network.

Don’t leave your booth unattended or understaffed. Create a schedule so everyone has some time to explore, walk around and network. Goodman says you must be representing and talking about your company everywhere you go. Spark conversations in elevators, hallways or long lines. Don’t be afraid to send people back to your booth while you’re out.

A post on huffingtonpost.com stresses the importance of being “extracurricular” at trade shows. For instance: “Attend receptions, group activities, lectures, after-hour meetups and networking opportunities.” Frequenting these events can help you find mentors, form new partnerships, acquire new customers, and develop long-term friendships.

These six steps will help you create lasting impressions with customers and visitors, as well as establish your brand’s growth and success.

For further trade-show planning, download the ATA Trade Show mobile app. Use your mobile device or desktop to view the schedule of events, browse the seminar schedule and search for exhibitors on the interactive floor map.

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