What is “tabling?”
Tabling at a trade show, convention or conference is a fancy way of saying that you purchased a booth for your company to showcase your products or services. Depending on your audience, you might find your table or booth in a place called “Artist’s Alley” or a “Merch Hall” or “Vendor Space.”
Why does it work so well at trade shows?
There are few places or times when you are guaranteed to have a large number of people ready and eager to take your promotional materials. At a trade show, convention or conference, though, every person who attends is there to do exactly that. They are there to meet new professionals in your industry, connect with other fans or operators within your niche and learn new things about your, for lack of a better word, “world.” They want what you’re selling. All you have to do is present it to them.
What’s more, the “die-hards” who love these shows often bring along at least a couple of friends who are new to the niche. This allows you to introduce your products or services to people who might not have ever thought to look you up but will now be glad they’ve heard of you.
How to be a Rock-Star tabler
Of course, simply sitting at a table with a handful of pamphlets isn’t really going to do a lot for you. Remember: these people are all here hoping that you’ll have something great to offer them, but you also have a ton of competition in these spaces. It’s important to find ways to stand out from everybody else. Here are a few ways to do that:
Have an awesome space. Don’t settle for the boring table and placard the event gives you. Bring some decorations. Hang some banners. Heck, if you have the budget, build a booth big enough for people to walk around in. There are many ways to make your booth stand out from the tables surrounding it.
Pro tip: Use sound sparingly. A lot of booths these days employ motion-sensored sound machines or announcements on repeat. But remember that not only will you have to listen to that same burst of marketing all weekend, but so will everyone else around you. Nobody is going to appreciate it after hearing it a few times. Trust us on that.
Have awesome freebies and tokens: One of the best ways to attract trade show attendees to your table or booth is to give away something great and genuinely useful. Many companies will offer buttons or stickers and the standard business card. Those are great, but magnets, notepads, water bottles, etc., are better. You want to give them a reason to look at your brand every day.
Have an awesome personality: Yes, that probably sounds mean, but you’re not going to get any attention if you’re just sitting behind your table, staring at your phone and waiting for people to notice you. If you aren’t good at engaging with crowds or strangers, hire someone who is and let that person run your booth. You need someone who is standing, seems approachable, is comfortable greeting people warmly, and can talk about your business with authority.
A lot of companies find that trade shows provide a big portion of their profit margins. This is especially true for web-based companies that might not otherwise get a lot of local foot traffic or attention. Use the tips in this article to help make your next trade show experience a positive and profitable one.
Dana Wilson is a freelance writer.
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