The more you can offer potential exhibitors to a trade show, the more likely you will be successful. Not only will you sell more booths, but you’ll also be able to upsell additional items, such as program book ads or sponsorships. The key to selling exhibit booths is to learn about each exhibitor to let them know your show aligns with their marketing needs.

Research Exhibitors

While you’ll need to create a generic brochure that gives information about your exhibit show to any potential business, you’ll also want to research each potential exhibitor you are targeting. This will help you emphasize the aspects of your show that are most attractive to them. For example, some exhibitors will sell more if they can demonstrate their product. Others will want to give free samples. Many will want your attendee list for post-show follow-up. Learn not only what a business sells, but also how it sells it to generate a targeted cover letter to send with your information packet.

Describe Your Attendees

Exhibitors don’t come to your trade show because of your booths, they come because of your attendees. Before you list what exhibitors will get, in terms of the size of a booth, length of table, number of chairs, show hours or signage, tell potential exhibitors what the benefits of exhibiting are. These will primarily revolve around the quality of your attendees. If you are part of a trade association, list demographic and sales information about your members. If your show is open to the public, perform Internet research to learn the attractive qualities of your attendees, such as any industry statistics about their spending habits.

Bundle Other Opportunities

Many show exhibitors are willing to spend more money than just purchasing a booth. Include opportunities for exhibitors to include a free gift in attendee welcome packets; sponsor any food in the exhibit area, such as a Continental breakfast or lunch; have a banner ad on your website before and after the show; name or logo on badge lanyards; run ads in the show program book; use your attendee mailing list; sponsor a speaker at one of your seminars; provide spouses’ gifts; host your welcome reception, banquet or cocktail party.

Provide the Facts

After you’ve used an area of your marketing materials to sell potential exhibitors on the benefits of exhibiting with you and what their participation options are, include a fact sheet that covers what exhibitors get. Include booth and show logistics, including availability of electricity and audio-visual equipment; set-up dates and times; shipping information; a list of previous exhibitors; the show floor plan and pricing for special requests; and any other information they will need to order a booth and attend your show. Set special prices for double booths or booths at the end of a row, known as end caps. Include a contract, which spells out exactly what is for sale and how to pay. Include the number of people allowed per booth, to prevent companies from bringing many sales reps you increase your food and beverage budget.

Start Early

Many companies attend more than one show each year and must submit an annual show schedule and budget. For this reason, many annual exhibit shows put their information for next year’s show online the day after this year’s show ends. After you put your information online, send email and print reminders, such as save-the-date postcard, to exhibitors to remind them to mark their calendars for next year.