Enhancing Trade Show Presence: Moving Beyond the Booth

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If your business relies on trade show participation to at least some degree, you obviously want to optimize the time, effort, and money you invest in the undertaking. Accomplishing this objective requires properly preparing and staffing your trade show booth.

Making the most of trade shows beyond the booth

Image Credit: JD Lasica

Designing an attractive booth and staffing it with sharp employees is a great way to generate leads, connect with buyers, and capture valuable data at trade shows. But also keep in mind these additional opportunities to fully capitalize on your participation at these events.

Speaking Opportunities and Presentations

Trade shows, conferences, and conventions are always in need of speakers and presenters. In fact, more than a few trade show, conference, and convention organizers will acknowledge that they sometimes find themselves scrambling to fill out their speaker and presenter schedules.

One way in which you can significantly enhance the trade show presence of your business beyond the booth is to speak or present at the event. Always think about the information needs and interests of the audience first; don’t just deliver an extended product pitch. Look to your executive team as well as subject matter experts in different functional groups for potential speakers.

Trade shows, and other confabs, begin looking for speakers and presenters a year out from an event, sometimes even earlier. You need to reach out to the organizers of a trade show you plan on attending and offer your services as a speaker or presenter.

You will be called upon to pitch a speech or presentation idea. You will want to balance ensuring you come up with a topic that readily fits the purpose behind the trade show with your internal subject matter expertise. Try to offer a new or truly interesting twist on a topic to make your proposal seem topical, appealing, and fresh.

Once you get your foot in the door as a speaker or presenter, the door is likely to remain open to you to make a speech or presentation in the future as well. In other words, you will have laid the groundwork to enhance the presence of your business at a particular trade show on a more ongoing basis. In addition, by making a favorable impression as a speaker or presenter at a trade show, you are likely to receive invitations to other events. This may also open the door to other enhanced trade show opportunities for your business.

Hospitality Suites

Another supplemental activity that you might want to consider undertaking during an event is hosting a hospitality suite. Attendees of trade shows, conferences, and conventions truly enjoy hospitality suites. Moreover, organizers greatly appreciate vendors and exhibitors that take the initiative to host these types of functions during these gatherings.

In most cases, there are several options available to a business interested in hosting a hospitality suite. For example, you can do something as simple as reserving a larger suite at hotel associated with an event and hosting an easy-to-pull-together gathering in that space. Alternatively, you can rent a meeting room in the conference center or associated hotel and host a larger group there.

Hospitality suites typically include a bar and a selection of finger food. This type of setup has broad appeal at business-oriented events.

Not only does a hospitality suite enhance the profile of your business at a trade show, it also gives you another setting in which you can (tactfully) pitch your products or services. There is something to be said about the benefits of promoting your business in the more comfortable, relaxed setting of a hospitality suite at a trade show.

Trade Show Sponsorships

Sponsors are the life blood of events for trade show organizers. In simplest terms, a trade show sponsor ponies up some money and then gets some promotion at the event in return. Typically, the trade show organizer will offer different sponsorship levels: the more you pay, the more exposure you get at the event. You should contact a trade show organizer about a year out from the event to identify sponsorship opportunities.

In many cases the sponsorship offerings will be clearly defined: you pay x and you get y. In other instances, organizers may be willing to offer “extras” in order to sell a sponsorship. It never hurts to ask for a little something extra, particularly if you are signing early or bringing a large contingent of employees.

Electing to be a trade show sponsor not only provides your company more visibility, it can also enhance your brand image. Trade show attendees tend to hold trade show sponsors in a bit higher regard than they might all of the other vendors at work in booths.

By engaging in these additional activities, you will add value to your trade show presence. You truly will optimize your business’ participation in events. You need to budget early to determine what type of additional trade show and conference participation makes financial sense for your business.

Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who focuses on personal finance and other money matters. She currently writes for Checkworks.com, where you can get personal checks and business checks.

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Originally published on Webbiquity, republished with permission.