Visitors to the New York Times booth at the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show received a customized gift — a digital portrait made of passages based on a single word they had selected. This stunning gift, reports Exhibitor Online, encouraged visitors to see the Times in a new way, a way that is more consistent with digital culture than old paper newspapers.
A trade show gives old companies a chance to reinvent themselves and new companies a chance to meet influencers in their industry. However, without the right preparation, the experience can be a flop. Lock in your success with this packing list:

Toys

Make your trade show booth into a playground for adults. Bring models and samples to let potential clients engage with your product. Inc advises making your booth interactive with large touchscreens or even a few iPads. The more engaged your crowd is, the longer they will stick around, and the longer you have to build rapport and show them how your product will cure their ails.

Signage

Regardless of how large or small the event is, you need signage to draw attention to your booth. Banners can be clipped to the back of your booth if the show producer is using pipe and drape, and retractable banners on stands can be displayed anywhere. If you haven't prepared signage and your show is happening soon, companies like Postup Stand can create what you need and deliver it within 48 hours.

Necessities

Show producers often have things like extension cords and banner hooks onsite, but don't count on these supplies. Pack everything you need to keep electrical equipment running like extension cords, chargers, and extra batteries. Duct tape is critical for taping down extension cords, and can be a lifesaver when you need a quick fix for a ripped sign or an unhemmed skirt.

Don't forget to pack whatever you need to set up your display as well. The trade show may have dollies onsite, but if you have a large display, talk to the show producer about your options. At some venues, you will need your own dolly and movers while at other venues, you may have to pay union workers to bring in your display.

First Impressions

Make sure that your booth is stocked with pens and paper or a digital database to collect contact info on prospects. Keep in mind, however, that the show is your only chance to make a good first impression. Make sure that your sales team knows what to wear and that they are well versed on the product.

If possible, staff the booth with your strongest team members. They should know the pitch inside and out, and they should be armed with an arsenal of responses to common objections. Most importantly, they should have a strong sense of how to build rapport quickly with potential clients. Forbes reports that a strong first impression is critical if you want to build a trusting relationship.

Creature Comforts

Your team needs to be at their best and brightest so make sure that the booth is comfortable. Provide adequate seating, enough staff to cover breaks, a few snacks, and some bottled water.

Guest Blog provided by:

Mike McDaniel
Trade show coordinator, marketing expert, runner