9 Trade Show Tips & Tricks for Exhibitors

August 6, 2015 Megan Stoeckel

In general, expos, trade shows, and conventions are enjoyable, but they can also be a massive pain if you are unprepared. Dozens of vendors struggle at conventions because they assume that showing up is 99.9% of the job. It’s not.

The common “build it, and they will come” approach simply isn’t sufficient anymore. You have to put yourself out there if you want to grab the attention of attendees, gather new leads, and sell to your spectators!

Pull procrastination out of your mind and take a gander at these nine convention tricks for exhibitors and vendors:

1. Attendees are more likely to approach you if you recognize their existence. This may seem obvious, but a good portion of exhibitors don’t appear to get it. Don’t just sit there like a knob when individuals walk up to your booth! It doesn’t matter if you’re in the midst of jotting down your shopping list, make sure to take an interest in each and every visitor. If you happen to be mid-conversation with another customer, take at least five seconds to make eye contact and say “How are you? I’ll be with you in just a moment.” Unless you’re marketing the best product ever created, people won’t purchase anything from you if they feel you don’t care.


2. You’ll give people a good scare if you start with a sales pitch. This is a bit contradictory to the first trick; never spark the conversation with a long spiel or aggressive sales pitch. You won’t gain a thing by obligating attendees to listen to you talk about your products or services the second they approach! Now, if you’ve noticed that they seem interested, then take a minute to talk to them and uncover their motive for seeking out your booth. You have to discover the subtle balance between aggressive and assertive.

3. You may lose prospective clients if you’re under-staffed. It is way better to have too much staff than not enough. Bring the proper number of workers especially if you foresee a high attendee volume. If paying for staff is not a realistic option, then ask friends or family to work for a free meal that you will provide after the show. Sometimes it’s difficult to get the coverage you need, and that’s OK. But be advised that interested buyers will not wait around endlessly, and that’s a risk you can’t afford to take.

4. People will not remember the next day unless you give them something like a business card or promo item to do so. Remember that attendees aren’t usually ready to spend money right away; visitors like to collect ideas for their upcoming projects. Do you have something noticeable for your leads to walk away with? Keep plenty of inexpensive giveaways and business cards on hand to give away to guests. Gathering a mailing list is also useful for keeping the “I’m just looking” types on your sensor after the show.

5. It’s OK to have some excitement while working the booth. No one wants to approach a mannequin-like vendor. Everyone appreciates the professional behavior, but you can surely have some fun and games when the mood strikes. You may want to play music at a rational volume, tell classy jokes to attendees, or even include a prize wheel at the booth to catch the eye. Using colorful table covers and signage never offended anyone, either. Keep in mind that there’s a time and place for humor and jokes, so turn on your discretionary skills for each visitor.

6. People are always in a rush. Many attendees hurry through the show’s aisles even if they just arrived. It could be because they’re fearful they won’t see the whole shebang in time. No matter what the thinking is, don’t take up too much of an attendee’s time with your starter when they come by to visit you. Keep your intro short-lived but educational and that will weed out the intolerant foot-tappers and free up your time to talk to the ones who are validly interested in what you’re offering.

7. It’s not OK to presume attendees know who you are and what you do. Do you have enough signs, banners, or company literature? Is your service or product obvious to attendees? Triple check that your business objectives are evident, specifically if you offer an elaborate or dedicated service. It’s not rational to expect people to grill you to realize who you are; plus, some of them may be discouraged from the poor manner in which you represent your brand. In many cases, they will never approach you at all.

8. The exhibitor’s hall will be either too cold or too hot. Every show’s space is ventilated in a different way, so always expect temperature extremes. A winter coat is possibly too much but take a light jacket and dress in layers for ideal comfort at all periods of the day. You’ll probably be manning the booth for several hours at a time, so you might as well be at ease.

9. Attendees have usually been on their feet for hours when they get to your booth. This one might seem odd, but it’s essential to remember. People will nearly fight one another for a place to sit down and relax, and you will be able to use this to your benefit. Make some space at your booth for a row of seats and offer people to sit when they appear to need a break. They’ll be enticed to your unplanned seating area and perhaps be more open to talking to you if they’re comfortable. If you can’t get some chairs from the expo hall, then spend a few dollars on comfy folding chairs or take some from home. Trust in the fact that people will appreciate the thought and you might end up being a hit at the expo!

Your best trick will be to become an attendee mentally and do a walkthrough of the day with your staff. Whatever you didn’t think of that may be of more use or comfort to a booth visitor, may occur to your staff. You can collectively map out what is going to work best as far as welcoming a guest, and keeping them there long enough to listen to your pitch.



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