Tradeshows are valuable ways to generate leads, network and stay abreast of the competition. And they can be intimidating! Figuring out how to stand out from the crowd, which shows to exhibit at and whats the best way to make strong connections with potential customers are important questions to ask before taking to the road.

Send invitations

A common method of directing traffic to your exhibit booth is to rent a list of conference attendees and send them an invitation to visit your booth. Be sure to include your booth number and location.

A less expensive alternative to renting this list, is to send an invitation to your current mailing list of current and prospective clients. You may want to promote a special deal if they place an order or sign a contract for services while attending the show.

Your booth is an advertisement, make it stand out

Don’t stop trying to draw people to your exhibit just because you have done some pre-show promotion. Once you’re at the show, have a game plan.

Think of your exhibit booth like an advertisement. Don’t just rely on your logo and corporate identity to make your booth stand out. Display a headline that addresses a common problem your customers experience and you can solve. Make sure you have conveyed whats in it for your customers to use your product or service and attend your booth.

Consider handing out chocolate, pens, anti-stress toys and other giveaways that you can use to leave an impression and put your logo on.

Offer incentives

Now that you have people in your booth, make sure you have a clever and concise spiel about your business.

Collect business cards in a bowl or a hat. Don’t forget to offer an incentive for the business card-promise to pull a business card to receive a free service, tickets to a show or dinner at a popular restaurant.

Whenever possible make sure your booth never goes unmanned. Being there to make a connection with clients is half the mission.

Choose effective speakers

Its important to staff the booth with people who find it easy to talk to strangers. The gift of gab is a critical component of tradeshow success.

Consider contacting the show producer in advance and enquire about speaking opportunities at the conference or seminar. Not only does it position your company as an authority, it puts a face to your company.

Follow up with your leads

Finally, don’t make the mistake that most companies do-the quickest way to put a flat tyre on your road show is to not make use of the valuable leads you generate.

Research analysts estimate that 55-70 percent of leads generated at a tradeshow are never contacted or used. Sending a note, email or personal message can lead to valuable sales.