By Robyn Davis, Trade Show Strategy Specialist at When I Need Help (WINH) 

If you're the person in charge of your company's exhibits, you’ll face some tough challenges – it’s just part of the job. However, in my opinion, nothing is worse than a slow show.

A slow show has the potential to quickly snowball into not just an event-specific problem, a team problem or a short-term company reputation problem, but worse: a slow show could become a personal problem for you and your career.

Fortunately, the challenge associated with a slow show is entirely avoidable. All you have to do is take responsibility for your booth traffic and act accordingly.

I know this process in and of itself can be a challenge, so I’ve put together my top 10 strategies for getting more of the right people to visit your trade show booth:

Foundational Elements

1. Event Selection: Only participate in events that have the capacity to bring you closer to your event-specific goals.

2. Preshow Marketing: Prioritize productive efforts to connect with your event-specific target audience before your event.

3. Long-Term Efforts: View your trade show(s) as a piece of the larger pie; use your trade show participation to support your year-round efforts and vice versa.

Design Elements

4. Booth Design: Design your booth/display to clearly communicate your messaging so that the right people instantly know they’re in the right place.

5. Attractions: Only select booth attractions that will appeal to your event-specific target audience and relate to your company, offerings and/or business benefits.

External Human Resources

6. Show Management: Work with your show management to select and customize opportunities outside of your booth that will support your event-specific goals.

7. Media: Identify publications and other press opportunities that will expose you and your event participation to your event-specific audience.

8. Partners: Look for opportunities to introduce top quality leads to your partners; equip them to identify the right professionals and introduce you to them accurately.

Internal Human Resources

9. Train Your Team: Teach your “trade show team” to attract the attention of your event-specific target audience, to improve their efficiency in your booth and to represent your company properly throughout the convention city.

10. Be Social: Go out of your way to engage other industry professionals on the show floor and elsewhere in the convention city.

Approach Preshow Marketing Strategically

My strategy number two, preshow marketing, is often underutilized or mismanaged by exhibitors, so approach these efforts strategically.

For example, during my workshop at ExhibitorLIVE in Las Vegas, participants realized that they had been approaching their preshow marketing efforts as actions first, and typically only completing the actions they had gotten accustomed to (like sending a standard announcement email to their mailing list) without working through foundational questions (to focus their efforts more productively as below) until later, if at all.

Fortunately, as we discussed during my workshop, by putting in a little extra time and effort up front, you can shift your preshow marketing focus to the content, communication methods and frequency/style that will resonate better with your audience.

Doing so makes your preshow marketing efforts feel more intentional (to your audience and to you) and because you’ll be adding greater value (through the actions you will have chosen strategically), your preshow marketing efforts will also be more likely to actually help you accomplish your exhibiting goals.

Learn more about Robyn Davis' trade show strategies at When I Need Help.