Imagine this: You are walking around a crowded trade show venue, shaking hands with strangers and sampling products with your own two hands, without a worry in the world… Crazy right? Although this scenario might seem far-fetched after a year of social distancing and event cancellations, trade shows are finally coming back. Events will look a little different than they have in the past, so flexibility and preparation are essential for an effective (and updated) trade show marketing strategy. 

In part 1 of preparing your brand for trade show season, we’re diving into our tips on how to prepare for the return of in-person trade shows and events in 2021. 

Best practices & tips for in-person trade shows

Social distancing, safety awareness, and sanitization are now three very familiar concepts. As the world progresses towards mass vaccinations, in-person trade shows and events are on the horizon. However, future trade shows will not be exempt from public health and safety protocols. Here are three tips to consider when returning to the trade show floor:

1. DON’T stick to the status quo

Standing out from the crowd has never been so crucial for your trade show strategy. Successful trade show activities such as crowd-engaging activities and well-attended presentations have been put to a halt due to pandemic health and safety requirements. To keep up, you will need to rely on a one-of-a-kind brand voice.

Companies will need to get creative with their ad space at trade shows because traditional marketing tactics like signs, banners, and promotional logos are not going to cut it. Create marketing strategies around your booth that not only create attention and buzz but also reflect precisely who you are and what makes you different from competitors. Take advantage of as many branding elements within every inch of your booth space as possible. Make the best out of the pandemic safety guidelines and include branded safety merchandise such as hand sanitizer or face masks that attendees can use at the event. As a result, people will be enticed to approach your booth and will know that you are taking their safety seriously. Another great way to use your ad space is to invest in a professional video under three minutes in length to visually describe and promote your product. Videos are a great way of catching short attention spans and are worth investing in. One video can significantly improve consumers’ opinions of your business and cement long-lasting impressions. 

2. Communication (at a distance) is key

Venues are leaning towards larger event spaces and booths to allow safe spacing between guests. Your team will have some obstacles as they attempt to make impressions from six feet away or behind protective plastic panels. As a supplier, it is critical to arrange your booth so your staff can see, hear, and communicate effectively with prospective buyers. Points of interest like demonstration set-ups, and interactive counters should have proper space to allow guests to maintain a safe social distance while learning about your brand and products. If possible, create a one-way flowing entrance-to-exit path around your booth, so attendees are less likely to bump into others.

Although the location, time, and event company of future trade shows will play a large role in the level of health and safety regulations put in place, predictions for future food and beverage events have been made. What is one of the main reasons why people love shopping at Costco? Free samples. Unfortunately, the idea of sharing samples that have been sitting out is not COVID-friendly so the planning of this hot commodity will have to be altered or completely cut out. Individually wrapping portions, offering grab-and-go samples, and bottling individual beverages is the recommended alternative. Stay informed and read over the event booth operations regulations and guidelines on a case-by-case basis. 

Communicate clearly with your staff so that they are aware of the venue safety protocols and booth functionalities. Ensuring that your space is safe sets a great example when greeting and engaging with attendees. 

3. Going digital is so this season

Due to the digital transformation of the CPG industry and beyond, many individuals expect digital experiences everywhere they go. Digital displays are a great way to stand out in a sea of similarities. What used to be face-to-face interaction can now be a digital multimedia, contactless, and efficient experience.

Brands are starting to incorporate virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) into their booth designs to give guests a more COVID-friendly “hands-on” experience. Another complementary digital experience is the use of QR codes. Visitors can use their phones to scan codes printed on signage throughout your booth to quickly access more information about your brand and products. For example, you can print downloadable sell sheets with your brand and product information on RangeMe to hand out to buyers at the show. Each downloadable sell sheet has a QR code that buyers can use their phone to scan and it will take them directly to your RangeMe profile. 

If you feel comfortable and are ready to hit the trade show floors, here are some upcoming 2021 trade shows you should check out:

RangeMe features and tools to use

In preparation for an in-person or virtual trade show, here are some features on RangeMe that you should leverage in your trade show strategy: 

  • List your trade shows: On RangeMe, you can let buyers know which trade shows you will be attending or exhibiting on your profile. RangeMe will add your brand to specific product collections reserved for suppliers that are attending particular trade shows. Buyers can view the collections to look at the suppliers on RangeMe that plan to, or already participated in a particular trade show. 
  • Use your downloadable sell sheets: RangeMe now provides downloadable sell sheets that can be shared with buyer contacts. Your downloadable sell sheets reflect product information, images, and brand details that buyers can review prior to or after the show. Plus they contain a QR code that will take buyers directly to your RangeMe profile! Below is an example of a RangeMe provided digital sell sheet.
Sell sheet example
  • Share your profile: Communication with prospective retail buyers before and after tradeshows is crucial. RangeMe allows you to share your profile and downloadable sell sheets, which allows you to give a peek into your brand and products or follow up with new contacts after the show. Sharing your profile gives you the chance to show prospects why you are worth their time and what exactly you have to offer. 

More RangeMe resources for trade show best practices

Relevant Blog Posts

Relevant Webinars 

  • How to Create a Brand Page Like a Pro
  • How to Grow Retail Leads
  • How to Manage Retail Leads

Whether you’re ready to dive back into in-person trade shows, or continue attending virtual events, follow these best practices and leverage your RangeMe profile for the most impactful and successful shows.

Stay tuned for Part 2: How to Prepare for Trade Show Season Virtually! 

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