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Trade show exhibitor tips

Get the most out of your trade show experience

Updated: December 15, 2022

Interested in exhibiting at an upcoming Minnesota Society of CPAs event?

Exhibiting at a trade show is a great way to get in front of financial decision makers who are customers and prospects in a short amount of time.

View upcoming exhibiting opportunities

Deciding to exhibit at a trade show can cost your company a lot of money, resources and time. Strategically planning for this event can help you get the most out of your trade show experience, and hopefully get you the leads to grow your business.

Set clear goals for your trade show participation

What do you want to get out of it? How many attendees do you want to stop at your booth How many leads do you hope to generate? How many products do you want to sell? Are you focusing on promotion or hoping to launch a new product?

You can have more than one goal, of course, but the point is that you need to be clear about what your participation in the trade show is going to achieve. Determine what your ROI would be – if one new customer helps you justify you being at the event, then focus on getting that customer.

Do your research

You need to choose the trade shows that will give your business the best ROI in terms of your goals. If your goal is on-site sales, exhibiting at that big splashy trade show where your booth is among dozens that sell similar products may not be the best choice.

You want to choose a trade show that best targets the audience that you want to reach, and best suits your participation goals. Find out what the particular trade show's objectives are, and investigate and evaluate the show's audience.

Budget and book your space

Find out everything you can about your space, including:

  • How much space do you have?
  • Location on the trade show floor
  • Other exhibits nearby, is your biggest competitor right next to you
  • Whether it's a high traffic or low traffic area
  • Physical conditions of the booth space, such as lighting or do you need to order additional tables and chairs.

Plan your exhibit in terms of your audience

Who are you targeting with your trade show display? Sole practitioners? CEOs? Tax managers? The MNCPA provides demographics to help you determine which audience might be best for your marketing plan.

If you are targeting multiple audiences, make sure you have appropriate information to meet the needs of each.

Advertise in advance

Put the word out that you're participating in a particular trade show by inviting your clients, customers, suppliers, and other contacts to attend the show. Be sure you give them all the details, such as your booth number. Be sure to advertise your coming trade show attendance on your website as well.

The MNCPA does allow our exhibitors to purchase pre-registered attendees list. The list will contain attendee’s name, company, and address (we do not provide phone numbers or e-mails). We can e-mail you this list, or provide you with labels.

You can also advertise in the conference program if one is available. Programs are handed out to attendees and provide them with conference information, such as session topics, times, and descriptions.

10 Tips to maximize your exhibiting experience

So now you're ready to attend that trade show -- almost. Below are tips for putting together a trade show display that wows your audience and draws a crowd.

Engage in social media.
Learn what the hashtag is for the event and post what you are promoting or what you are giving away. Like or follow the organization's social media pages. If they allow it, post teasers or questions to engage the audience. Be sure to TAG the organization in your post. 

Know your audience, is your audience is on some of these other social media outlets:

  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube
  • SnapChat
  • TikTok

Pull a crowd to your trade show booth
Use an interactive display, such as a quiz or game on a computer, a contest draw, or a scheduled demonstration. It doesn't need to be fancy to draw people's interest.

Use a prize draw or contest
Having some kind of prize drawing or contest is a great way to collect contact information from booth visitors. You can give away promotional items to encourage people to participate.

Have a stock of promotion items that you can use as giveaways at your booth
Small items that people can take away and use (while being reminded about your business) are best. Be sure you place these items in a location where people will have to walk into or through your trade show display to get them.

Actively engage trade booth visitors
Give people who approach your trade show display a friendly greeting and welcome their questions. Be sure that your body language is friendly. Don't stand there with your arms crossed over your chest, for instance. Chat with booth visitors, and find out what aspect of your business they're most interested in. Be prepared to offer specific solutions to their questions. The trick is to draw them in without intimidating or overwhelming them.

Make sure you have plenty of promotional literature on hand
You'll want to have a good supply of color fliers and brochures as well as order forms, price sheets and business cards that you can hand out to booth visitors. Make it easy for them to find the information on your business later.

Have your trade show booth manned at all times
Someone has to be there to greet browsers, engage them in conversation, and take their questions. If you can't be there every minute the trade show is open, you'll need to have at least one other person to help man your booth.

Send knowledgeable staff
Many companies will send their "rookies" to tradeshows. Sending new staff people is not always the wisest decision, however, as they may not have all the answers about your products or services. If you do send a new staff member, be sure to include an experienced employee as well. That way, newer staff will be able to watch and learn.

Get out from behind your booth and get off your phone/computer
Often, exhibitors sit behind their tables while attendees stand looking down at them –- get up and engage! Also, get off your phone or computer. Nothing is worse than watching one of our exhibitors miss valuable exhibitor time because he or she is one the phone. There are typically periods of down time during any conference to follow up on voicemail or e-mails.

If you have the ability to scan badges, be sure you and your staff have downloaded the conference app and educated yourself on how to use it. Don't miss this critical engagement opportunity. 

Follow up promptly
Follow up with contacts and leads you made during the trade show as soon as possible. The faster you send them out, the more your business will stand out from the rest.

MNCPA marketing opportunities contact

We appreciate any feedback or suggestions you would like to provide on what has been successful for you when exhibiting at a conference. If you are interested in exhibiting or sponsorship at MNCPA events please contact us.

Leslie Mueller
Strategic Partnership Specialist