How to Succeed in your First Trade Show

So many of us have experience working trade shows. We’re all familiar with the complexity of shipping all your materials, negotiating which floor space you will rent, and setting up the booth. That’s the fun part, right? Setting up the booth is typically the one thing we don’t have to do. After all, the trade show floor is run entirely by union employees and thus, we aren’t allowed to set up our own booths anyway!Trade show

But what about the small business that hasn’t started down the trade show path? What should you expect on your first show? Here are some things to keep in mind when planning your first show:

  1. You’ll need a custom trade show booth. Sounds obvious, but this step is not to be taken lightly. And, it takes time. Custom booths are individually designed and built from the ground up.
  2. Be aware of the myriad of places that the trade show facility will try to gouge you for more money. It’s a racket, and they’re good at what they do. See below for some items you will pay for.
  3. Don’t forget to pre-ship all the materials (brochures, giveaways) that you will need in plenty of time.
  4. Have a gimmick. Sounds cheesy, but you need a small giveaway or contest to attract people to your booth.

Some items you’ll pay extra for:

Wifi connectivity, electrical hookup, storage of your booth in their warehouse prior to the show, the hourly booth setup fees, and carpeting. Yes, I said carpeting. Although you can bring your own carpet to go under your booth, they know you aren’t likely to do so. This one is a hidden killer. Here’s an example. Lets say your booth is a 20′ x 20′. They’ll offer you carpet in 9′ widths and suggest that you purchase two. But if you do that, you’d be missing 1′, right? Right. BUT, not to worry, they tell you, because you can purchase premium carpeting in 10′ widths. Whew! Aren’t you relieved? And they only charge you triple the price of the 9′ carpet width. How noble of them.

Wondering where to go so that you’ll have the best return on investment? See this list of top US trade shows. And watch out for the 9′ carpet.

About Nate Goodman

Nathan Goodman is a freelance fiction writer and the bestselling author of The Special Agent Jana Baker Spy-Thriller Series. "A terrorist on the loose, a country in panic, and time is running out..." For a free copy visit the author's website.