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Every industry has them and early indications show an increase in attendance for 2010. After taking a hit in 2009, the trade show industry – and yes, they have a trade show as well – is looking at more vendors and, more importantly, visitors to pass by your wares this year. Making those personal connections can be beneficial to increasing sales for your organization. So how do you make an impact on the trade show floor? Here are a few tips for having a successful show:

Be prepared. Why are you going to the trade show? Do you want to gain exposure, procure leads or sell products on the floor? Once you understand this you can plan how you’re going to set up your booth and what personnel you need to take. Before the show, ask for a list of attendees. Sometimes this is free information as part of your booth fee, other times you may have to pay—but it may be worth it. Consider sending an invitation to visit your booth for a trade show special price, promotion or activity as an incentive for stopping by.

Make your three seconds count. At a trade show everyone is trying to stand out. You have three seconds to make a lasting impression. Contrasting colors demand attention. Don’t stray from your corporate colors but supplement them to create an eye-catching booth. Make sure your signage is easy to understand and in good view. A lot of companies are giving away specialty advertising items. If you decide to go this route, consider the purpose. Make it relate to your company and what you’re doing in the booth for a special activity. If you want everyone that walks by to have your give-aways, think about less expensive options. Or spend a little more per item but put a premium on how attendees receive them. Demand sometimes generates more activity.

The show isn’t over when it’s over. Your booth is packed. You’ve been on your feet all day. Time to relax? Hardly. That’s what 70-80% of companies do yet this is the most critical way to make your show successful. Trade shows are an investment in time and dollars. The last thing you should do is walk away with a stack of business cards that get put in a desk drawer. You have to follow up. Prospects will be impressed because you’re in a successful minority making the most of your trade show experience. You may also want to do a follow-up mailing to all attendees that didn’t visit your booth extending your offer.

Now relax and celebrate a successful show.