Exhibiting 101: Get the Most out of Your Trade-Show Experience

Article excerpt

Despite today's fast-paced world of social-media marketing and networking, there's still no substitute for meeting customers and prospects in person. And there are few better places to accomplish just this goal than at a trade show.

According to Diane Attesi, who has managed trade shows for 13 years and currently works as director of trade shows and events at Wave Systems Corp., the primary reason to exhibit at a trade show is to increase sales and expand awareness of a company, a product or a brand.

Daniel Giglio of Exhibit & Tradeshow Consultants (exhibitandtradeshow.com) echoes these sentiments and notes that trade shows are still the most cost-effective ways to showcase products or services. "For example, if you received 100 leads at a show," says Giglio, "what would it cost you to meet with these 100 potentials face-to-face?"

Sales are vital for any business, including an art business. At a trade show, exhibitors get the chance not only to showcase their products or services but also to meet with clients, gallery owners, journalists and other art professionals. The shows enable artists to gain important feedback on their work and see what others in the industry are doing.

But deciding whether and where to exhibit is just the first step. The second is making the most of those few show days available. Even the most seasoned exhibitors can make mistakes. Here are some tips to make sure you get the most out of your trade-show experience.

Start planning for the show in advance. Note all deadlines and communicate with show managers and show service vendors, who can be helpful in explaining rules and answering questions. Attesi suggests assigning one person to oversee this process. Giglio advises early planning, including selecting booth spaces, booth design, graphics and construction. It will "help keep costs under control and will also help keep you from last-minute craziness and exhaustion," he says.

"Product is king!" says Peter LoCascio, who has been helping companies market themselves for more than 35 years and today runs Trade Show Consultants (tradeshowconsultants.com). "The exhibit booth should be designed to transform suspects who walk the aisles of a trade show into prospects." This advice means that exhibitors must pay close attention to the layout. For example, they must leave plenty of open space for visitors and be sure that the lighting highlights the art on display.

"Lighting is critical for artworks," says LoCascio. "The exhibitor should design his or her exhibit utilizing as much illumination as possible on each of the pieces displayed."

Attesi adds that overstating or understaffing a booth can create an unfriendly layout. …