By Jody Long Signing up to be an exhibitor at a trade show for your industry is an important decision, and can put you in front of many new customers that will result in new business. However, as the event planner coordinating the trade show booth, you want to make sure you’re seeing a return on your investment. Before ordering that prize wheel or signing a contract for a celebrity to appear at your booth, ask yourself a few questions so you know what kind of exhibit you’re getting into. Many of these questions can be answered by visiting the exhibitors section of the trade show website, or simply by asking the person in charge of the show. - How many people attended last year? - Is attendance expected to increase this year? - Will be competitors be present? - What is the cost to attend? - Where will my booth be placed? (Ask if it will be placed near high traffic areas) - What other costs will be associated with my booth? (What is included, and what additional charges will I incur? Electrical, carpet, etc.) Once you’ve answered these questions, and you have an idea on what your total booth cost will be, start brainstorming on how you can differentiate your booth from the others. If you’ve exhibited at this show before, think back and remember what popular booths you saw, and what was attracting the customers? All of this will help you put a plan into action to help create your promotional plans and your show objectives. Remember to create ideas to keep customers in your booth. You don’t want them playing the game, and then running off. The objective is to get them in, then get them to stay a while to check out your products or services. Here are a few ideas on getting customers to your booth: · “Show us the app”: Does your company have a smart phone app? If so, create a promotion that lets customers know they can win a prize if they come to your booth showing you they’ve downloaded your app on their mobile device. · Mascots & celebrities: Is there a certain celebrity or mascot that would be appropriate for your industry, city, or product? If it’s worth the money, see what’s involved in getting someone to spend some time in your booth to attract customers. If you can’t afford the entire day, check into which are the heaviest traffic times. Be sure not to book someone while customers may be in classes, or not in the exhibit area. · Game shows: Advertise that your booth will have a prize wheel, or the ever popular “Plinko” game. Be sure to make the prizes relevant to your products, so you can follow up with your customers.