Exhibiting at trade shows is a great way to build your brand, but it is expensive. So don’t just attend the show, make the most of it! We learned the hard way over a 20-year period, but if you use these tricks, you’ll immediately see the results.
Here are 6 actions that will get you noticed:
1. Best Booth Location. Register early to choose the best location. Discover the strategic spots where there is the greatest traffic by checking the map to see entrances, exits, and food or coffee stations. Corner spots get traffic in two directions, so choose your booth carefully according to traffic patterns.
2. Friendly Booth Configuration. We used a table parallel to the flow of traffic and close to the aisle so folks could see our products without having to walk up to them. If you have a larger space, the alcove configuration allows for more display space and eliminates the barrier between you and the visitor. It also allows you to go out into the aisle and greet passersby.
3. Attention-getting Video. People are transfixed by compelling and relevant video. Put a screen close to the aisle at eyelevel. It gives people a nice transition between entertainment and business. When they stop to watch, you have an opportunity to give them a smile and a handshake.
4. Use Altitude. As you look out across the exhibit hall floor, your eyes naturally will go to the gas balloons, vertical banners mounted on tables, high bouquets of long flowering bows, or other bright, colorful objects above the heads of the crowd. Get action going above head level if you want more action at your table.
5. Good Lighting. Use small clamp lights to illuminate your signage. People are drawn to lit signs and your message will be seen from farther away, especially if your signs are above head level. Use signage perpendicular to the flow of traffic in both directions.
6. Table at Bar Height. Don’t make people look down at your product. Go with bar height over standard table height. Use racks and boxes to get your goods up to eyelevel. Ideally, your eyes and your product should be at the same level so folks don’t have to break eye contact to see your products. We would bring our own bar-height leg-extension table or put a standard table on boxes.
And, remember to prepare for unexpected challenges. We would bring a well-stocked toolbox with essentials; stick pins, thumb tacks, wire hooks, double stick tape, scissors, extension cords with multi plug ends, pliers, a tack hammer, a box cutter, 200 lb nylon test line, and the indispensable all-purpose duct tape.
Now that your booth is set, consider your own needs. Lay down a thick rubber kitchen pad to stand on. Your feet will really appreciate it. After six hours of standing and smiling, you’ll still be congenial.
Who Are We.
Having built and sold a bestselling national brand, we appreciate the value of brands and everything it takes to make them successful. Companies are valued by their brand equity. Achieving and maximizing brand equity requires tremendous respect for all your customers, from your wholesaler to your end user.
Starting in our laundry room with no money and no knowledge of the industry, we built the famous Barefoot Wine brand. We learned a lot they don’t teach in school and much of it the hard way. Although our success was in consumer products, our real world experience will be helpful to anyone looking for information and advice about brands.
We have written the New York Times Bestselling Business Book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand, which chronicles the history of the famous brand from its inception through its acquisition. Our book is now required reading in schools of entrepreneurship across the country. We hope this book will provide inspiration and encouragement for all those contemplating starting a brand or wanting to improve their existing brand.
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders