Despite the growing popularity of food and food truck trade shows, there is no guarantee of success when it comes to new trade show exhibitors. In fact, according to the Trade Show Bureau (TSB), roughly 40% of first-time exhibitors don’t come back. A lot of them just go, stand around not doing much, and then swear they’re never coming back.  The problem for first time trade show exhibitors is they don’t realize the effort it takes before and after to make a trade show work.

10 Tips For Success For New Trade Show Exhibitors

Use these tips to do things right at your first trade show.

Check out a trade show directory

Find out as much as possible about an exhibition before the show. Make certain its attendees are your target group.

Fix a budget

Find out prices for airfare, accommodations, and the like. Also, decide what your display needs are. If your budget is tight or you’re just going to one show, you may want to consider renting a display. If you go to a lot of shows (five or more a year), buying a display may be a better option.

Set objectives

Don’t go to the show without concrete marketing goals. Plan to meet a certain number of key customers and prospects.

Ship ahead, and allow plenty of lead time

Don’t expect things to arrive when they’re supposed to. Plan as if your materials will get there a week or two later than your target date.

Watch labor costs

Portable displays can usually be set up quickly and help you avoid additional labor costs. Check the show booklet carefully to see what the regulations are when it comes to setting up your own booth. As a rule, if it can be set up in 20 minutes or less with one person, you can avoid extra labor charges.

Keep it simple

If you can’t afford a lot of extras in the booth, at least keep it uncluttered and simple. Don’t put a table in the front, blocking the entrance. Avoid having chairs in the booth (it may become too tempting to sit down). Most important: Have a banner that tells people who you are and what you do.

Spend money on lights

Don’t cut corners too closely on lighting. Many exhibit halls are poorly lit, and a dark booth is both uninviting and apt to make the company look like it doesn’t belong.

Consider trade show training

Many firms offer training on how to sell at trade shows. Salespeople who are great on the road may feel less comfortable standing in a booth for six or eight hours a day.

Don’t under staff

A minimum of two people is always necessary. If budgets are really tight, look at the possibility of hiring an on-site temp rather than sending a staffer to the show.

Be aggressive

Go out into the aisles and meet people. Don’t stand there (or worse, sit) waiting for people to come to you.

RELATED: Attending A Trade Show With Purpose

The Bottom Line

Exhibiting at trade shows is surprisingly harder than it looks. Use these tips to avoid major issues and produce great results as a first time trade show exhibitor.

Do you have any additional tips for trade show exhibitors? Share your thoughts in the comment section, our food truck forum or social media. Facebook | Twitter