I'd say for the baby stall display have something out front that brings the kids cover - maybe a big purple dinosour soft toy that can stand by itself? Something that you can have that catches their eye and they can touch safely.
Giving out lollies or candy wouldn't be a good idea given the risk of chocking, health issues etc (I usually have red lollies and chocolates at my expos but they are for grown ups).
T-shirts are an expensive marketing tool - are they for people who order or shop directly with you at the show? How many are you planning on giving away?
For me with expos I look at the cost of them and what sale returns I require directly from doing the expo to make it profitable. Knowing your numbers makes all the difference.
I did my first bridal expo (I have a fashion jewelry
business) in February and broke even while learning some really good lessons. I did the second bridal expo in May and made my costs on day one so all sales on Sunday were profit and the jewelry parties I have booked from there will be all profit. But that was because I learned my lessons and wrote them down so when I was getting ready for the second one I was ready to go.
One of the main lessons that made such a difference was having big signs that said you could buy directly from the show.
Another lesson was going round to all other exhibitors with my flyer and letting them know they get a 10% discount for their shopping at the show. I made this offer to everyone working at the show. It worked a treat.
I also send thank you notes to organisers for their efforts and including me. I find good manners make all the difference, especially as the organisers are involved in the media selection process.
I was looking at doing a big trade wholesale gifts and homewares expo and a jewelry trade show and as they are loads of money I went to explore and research at few shows first. After walking round, talking with others at the cafe etc, and listening to exhibitors I figured out what I would do if I was to have a stand.
I would get the list of previous attendees and selectively target market with direct mail including postcard invitations that would show a map of where the stall was and its number, website address, special offer such as 10% off with this postcard sort of thing. If the show is going to cost $6000 it needs to generate $60,000 in sales - seriously. How else are you going to stay in business if you don't bring in the income?
I ended up deciding that I didn't want to be in these particular shows, that not being in them is a selling point for me. Many of the best shops in a town or suburb got there because they have suppliers who aren't at the big trade shows so they get to have stock that is different and they don't have to compete on with other local shops.
All of my wholesale shops are the best little shop of their kind in town and love having independent designers. I do meet up with them at trade show at a cafe for lunch and they buy directly from me. It does mean that I have to have a lot of work designed and made for each trade show but it is a great cash injection without the cost of doing the trade show.
Most of my wholesale customers have found me either online or as a recommendation through friends and customers.
I figured if I wanted to spend $6000 on a marketing campaign to build my wholesale customer base it would be better for me to join the trade show organisation at a level where I could get their list of attendees, research them to figure out the shops I wanted and their direct market specifically to them with my designs and information (articles) that would be of direct interest and value to them so they don't mind hearing from me 7 times.
So yes, pick your expos carefully, do your research, think creatively and figure out the money first to see if it makes sense.
All the best with it. Expos can be great or a nightmare - going for the best results is far more fun!
Our Jewelry Display Stands are great for Expos
PS. If you're looking for expos in your area go to the website of the local conference centres and see what they have listed in their calendars and explore from there. Checking out industry groups for their expos is also good.