While I’ve been running businesses and attending trade shows for over 15 years, I’ve never once had my own trade show booth. Until last week. As part of the launch of our Guiding Metrics Executive Dashboard, we decided to run a booth at the Traffic & Conversion Summit.

Below are my six biggest takeaways from this experience and things you should keep in mind when considering exhibiting at an event or trade show.

1. Location, location, location

Like in retail, the location of your booth is critical. The event was a 3-day event and our booth was on the second floor by the break-out rooms. We received some foot traffic during the first two days at times when the break-out rooms were crowded. Fortunately, on the third day, some of the exhibitors on the main floor left, and we were allowed to move our booth there. The results were incredible; we had the same amount of visitors to our booth on the third day (which was a shortened day too) as the first two days combined.

2. People may not act how you expect

We setup 3 iPads at our booth so people could pick them up and play around with our executive dashboard product. We figured people would click through the charts and see how it worked.

However, it turned out that virtually no one picked up the iPads. Rather, we had to walk around the booth, pick up the iPads and walk through it with the prospect. Fortunately we had enough staff on hand to do this (since at times, multiple prospects were at the booth). But realize that people may not take the actions you expect.

3. Have something interesting to get them to stop

Behind our booth, we had a 70 inch flat screen television showing our executive dashboard in action.

It worked in influencing some people to stop, but others quickly glanced and kept walking. Next time, we will invest more in creating a better video that shows the dashboard, but is a bit more exciting to “grab” people as they walk by.

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4.  Choose the right event

Event marketing is like direct mail; the list of recipients is key. Just like you can’t expect to succeed if you to send a mailer promoting tooth whitening to the elderly, you can’t succeed if the target audience at the event isn’t a great fit for your business. When considering an event, review who will be attending and who the other exhibitors are before committing.

5. Strike while the iron is hot

Try to get visitors to your booth to take action while they’re with you. Excitement and energy at events is very high. Take advantage of that. So, for instance, if you can close the sale at the event, do it. If you can capture leads too, that’s great. But at the event, schedule the next point of contact. Let me explain. We emailed all our leads after the event to set up phone meetings, but less than half responded. Rather, we should have tried to schedule the follow-up meetings at the event. I believe we would have had a much better result with that approach.

6. Get on stage if possible

I was fortunate to have been selected to participate on a panel on the second day. After that, when people walked by our booth, they recognized me, and many stopped to talk with me. By getting on stage, I gained both recognition and credibility, both of which were very helpful.

All in all, the event proved to be a big success for us. Armed with these six tips, our next one will be even better. So consider if and how you can use these six tips and add event marketing to your marketing plan this year. Doing so could bring in a ton of new leads and sales.

Dave Lavinsky is the co-founder and president of Growthink, a consulting and publishing firm that has helped more than 500,000 entrepreneurs and business owners to start, grow, or exit their companies. Growthink specifically helps clients develop business plans, raise capital, and implement executive dashboards to profitably grow their companies. Be sure to check out Dave's Growthink blog.