The Do's and Don'ts of Attending Trade Shows


In the early start up stage, finding early adopters and buyers for the ventures new product is the urgent task. No sales, no survival. One of the best ways to make those early sales is at industry exhibitions and tradeshows. Exhibitions attract innovator and early adopter buyers, keen to see what is new. It pays therefore to make a winning impression at the key exhibitions and trade shows that are attended by buyers for the new product. Here are the do's and don'ts of attending trade shows:

Join our Business Achievers community and get access to downloads to help your business, free online training courses and network with members to help grow your business.

Tips for attending Trade Shows and Exhibitions

The booth is focal

Address the needs of your target audience.

Design the booth so visitors can navigate easily without feeling crowded. Keep the atmosphere intimate, and remove any barriers between yourself and your audience.

In addition to it being an open, welcoming and friendly space, there needs to be a focal point and a strong key message that communicates a significant benefit to your prospect.

Recommended reading: Top Tips for Attending Trade shows and Exhibitions

Keep it simple

Keep the message simple so as not to overload visitors with information.

Opt for large graphics rather than reams of copy. Pictures paint a thousand words, while very few exhibitors will take the time to read. Use signs and graphics to focus visitors attention on your message.

Maximise the opportunity

Your presentations or demonstrations are a critical part of your exhibit marketing. Create an experience that allows visitors to use as many of their senses as possible. This will help in getting customers to remember.

Consider offering a giveaway or promotional product that conveys your message in a way that ties in with the exhibit theme.

Recommended reading: Trade Show Giveaway Ideas: The Ultimate Guide

After the trade show

Follow up promptly. The key to your trade show success is wrapped up in the lead management process. It is to your advantage to develop an organized, systematic approach to follow-up. Establish a lead handling system, set timelines for follow-up, use a computerized database for tracking.

Integrate web, email, e-newsletter, business cards into your exhibition marketing campaign. Repetition and continuity are key to getting your sales message across successfully.

10 Must Do's for Trade Shows

  1. Lighting. Any booth will attract attention if it is well lit and/or differently lit.
  2. Use Colours. Bright, rich colours presented in high contrast attract visitors to your booth. But be aware of the mood you put people in with the colours you use. Green = nature, Red = excitement, Yellow = optimism, Black = authority, White = purity, Blue = serenity.
  3. Soft touch. Upgrade to quality carpet and padding. The soft feel underfoot gives the impression of quality and class.
  4. Open atmosphere. Eliminate all other physical and psychological barriers to your booth. Move the furniture to the back and sides.
  5. Movement. Provide movement to attracts attendees' eyes and in turn their bodies toward your booth. Activity attracts people's attention and piques their curiosity. Be sure to involve your product physically or through a sales pitch or anecdote.
  6. Tickle the senses. Put a drop of vanilla on a light bulb, rent cookie baking equipment, warm brownies, or bake bread to attract visitors to your booth. When was the last time you weren't hungry at a show?
  7. Personalize your exhibit. Your exhibit doesn't have to be all work and no play.
  8. Invent a corporate dress code. Don't make the attendee search for your staff. Have corporate attire made so that everyone wears the same shirt, tie, scarf, vest, or jacket.
  9. Go high-tech. Use all the tools at your disposal to provide information to your clients and potential customers. 
  10. Staff your booth with the best. You need people willing and able to initiate conversation with anyone, answer questions about your product, and record lead information.

Recommended reading: 4 Nifty Ways To Use Technology to Enhance Your Trade Show Presence

10 Things to Avoid at Trade Shows

  1. Do not sit. You give attendees the impression you don't care or you're lazy.
  2. Don't read. You are not able to make eye contact with attendees as they walk by your booth.
  3. Do not eat or drink. It is just plain rude and messy. Potential customers are too polite to bother you when you're eating.
  4. Do not ignore attendees. If you are busy when someone approaches, either acknowledge him/her or try to include him/her in your conversation.
  5. Do not talk on the telephone. Why do you need a phone in your booth? Time on the phone is time away from potential prospects and tells everyone you have better things to do.
  6. Don't be a Border Guard. Don't stand where you become a barricade or block the attendees view. Stand near the aisle and off to the side.
  7. Don't hand out literature freely. Your catalogues and brochures end up in a bag with everyone else literature. Be discriminating in who gets literature. Better yet, mail them to qualified prospects after the show.
  8. Don't underestimate prospects. Get out of the habit of sizing up somebody simply by the way they look. Qualify them, don't classify them.
  9. Don't cluster with friends and other booth personnel. 
  10. Do not leave lead generation to chance. Develop your lead generation, qualification and tracking/follow-up system BEFORE the expo.

Over to you now. Is there anything else we should add to our Must Do's and Don'ts for trade shows? Tell us in the comments below. 



No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
Tuesday, 19 November 2019
If you'd like to register, please fill in the username, password and name fields.

Member Login

Business Insights & Tips


Jill Holtz
2325 Points
Tena Glaser
1395 Points
Michael Lane
802 Points
Ron Immink
732 Points
Fionan Murray
721 Points
View Leaderboard