Do’s and Don’ts of Exhibiting at a Trade Show

By • July 16, 2013

There’s plenty of advice out there about how to make the most of a trade show experience. While most of it focuses on what you should do, if you really want to have a good show experience, there are some behaviors or actions that shouldn’t be on display alongside your company’s offerings. Having observed exhibitors and participated as an exhibitor in more than 40 shows during the past four years, here are six potential pitfalls to consider before you set up your next booth:

Come prepared to answer questions.

Attendees will to come to your booth and engage in conversation about your products. Make sure that everyone in your booth (including hired temps for the show) is knowledgeable about your product and can hold an intelligent conversation about it. I have asked “pretty faces” in booths simple questions, and on one occasion the young lady did not even know the name of the company she was representing!

Engage the people walking the floor.

STAY OFF YOUR PHONE! Nothing turns off a prospect like seeing an exhibitor so engrossed in his/her phone or laptop that they are not noticed. At one show, I stood in front of a booth for about two minutes while the exhibitor totally ignored me in favor of texting on his iPhone. I finally walked away unnoticed. The same exhibitor later told us, the show’s coordinators, that he got nothing out of the show. It wasn’t difficult to understand why. Remember why you are there: to talk to potential customers. Nothing else is more important!

Set up your booth so that it is inviting.

Don’t close yourself off by standing behind a table at the front of your booth. It makes you appear unapproachable. If you must have a table, place it in the back of your booth and position yourself in front so you can interact and shake hands.

Make sure that a prospect can tell what your product or service is.

Don’t assume that everyone knows your company and products. The workforce is constantly shifting and growing, and long timers are retiring. Many people simply have not heard of you (yet). Use signage or product placement in the booth to show what it is and why the prospect need it.

Proactively drive people to your booth.

Advertise before the show or sponsor something that will bring people to you. While your product is wonderful, and should be seen, if attendees don’t know you are there, you are another booth among the rest.

Giveaways should focus on your product.

I would not give out candy or hand sanitizer because it probably has nothing to do with your offerings. Have something with your name on it for attendees to take with them. Attach a business card to it; that way they have your contact info if you are busy with another customer when they come by. Always have business cards out where attendees can pick them up. There is nothing worse for a busy attendee who wants to cover the floor in a certain amount of time than not being able to get contact info if you can’t talk to the exhibitor for some reason.

In closing

It’s possible to be physically present at a trade show but miles away in terms of how well you engage attendees and earn the return on your booth investment. Make sure you’re not committing any of the above infractions, and you will see better results at your next show.

About The Author

Scott Groves has been an account executive for Naylor Event Solutions since 2009, representing four associations as Lead Account Representative for their trade show activities.