Tips for Running a Successful Trade Show Booth


You’ve rented your space, ordered your signage, and made your travel plans – but how will you attract visitors to your trade show booth and keep them around long enough to pitch your services? This table from Exhibitor Central does a great job of outlining the pros and cons of some traditional trade show booth gimmicks – see how a cell phone charging station compares:

Contests, games, drawingsAbility to draw a large audienceTime-consuming, Audience too generalGenerate qualified leads, Product introduction
In-booth premiums Generate qualified leads, Relatively inexpensiveFrequently misused by staffGenerate leads
Celebrities Ability to draw a large audienceAudience too generalBuild traffic
Live PresentationsAbility to draw large audiences, Ability to deliver a targeted messageCan draw too general an audience, can lose targeted prospects if staff fails to interactBuild traffic, Product introduction

Cell Phone Charging Station

Provide a useful service, Encourage lingering, Make a lasting impression Draws a general audience Increase foot traffic & dwell time

Once you’ve decided what to have at your trade show booth, it’s still important to remember basic trade show booth etiquette. Check out these guidelines for good boothmanship from Agricultural Marketing Resource Center:

  • Tell your sales team why you decided to attend this particular show and what you hope to gain from it. The better they understand your motives, the better they will convey the right message to prospective customers.
  • Never have your booth people sit. If they need to rest, let them leave the booth. In fact, if you don’t even have chairs in your booth, no one will be tempted to use them.
  • Never eat in the booth. Out of politeness, most potential customers will walk by rather than interrupt someone’s meal. Besides, it looks terrible. Also, don’t drink or smoke in the booth.
  • Don’t bring a phone into the booth. When you’re on the phone, you discourage people from entering your exhibit area.
  • Be sure your booth people know your products or services well. If there is a product to demonstrate, let them practice prior to the show.
  • Give your people specific goals, such as garnering a certain number of sales leads. This gives them something tangible to strive for during the event.
  • Salespeople tend to like to bond with customers. While that’s fine with traditional selling, it’s deadly at a trade show. Train your people so they feel comfortable giving a quick presentation and then moving on to the next person.
  • Don’t let your booth staff improvise. Have them memorize a sales spiel so they can efficiently and effectively convey your message.
  • Set up a system for qualifying leads, and train your people in using it.
    Be judicious when handing out literature. Most of it ends up in the trash can unread.

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