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Top 10 Tips for Trade Show Success

1. Set Your Goal

Why are you doing this show? Is it to sell product, get leads, create top of mind awareness, or to preempt your competition? Be sure to have a very specific goal in mind, write it out and track your results as the show progresses. Without a specific goal in mind it will be impossible to determine if the trade show was a success.

2. Promote Your Trade Show Booth Before The Show Begins

One of the most important aspects to a successful trade show is the number of times you can “touch” your prospects. The general rule is that you must touch them at least 3 times prior to the show to generate top of mind awareness. Less than 15% of exhibitors do a pre-show promotion. Be in that group! Attendees only spend time at 15% to 20% of the exhibits so if you want their time, you need to invite them to your trade show booth before they get there. If you want to generate “guaranteed” prospects – this is how to do it!

3. The 1 Minute Pitch

Fact: You have 6 seconds to capture a prospects attention when they are walking past your booth on the trade show floor. If your booth design and message are great (we will discuss later) and the prospect stops- you must be prepared! Have a condensed 1 minute pitch that covers everything you need to qualify the lead and most importantly, a pitch that meets the goal you set for this show. Practice this pitch as many times as possible prior to the show to ensure you have it down cold and fire away! Remember your pitch should be all about the prospect – NOT YOUR COMPANY that comes later.

4. The invitation – Have a good Great reason to visit your booth

This is simple – come up with a reason for your prospects to visit your booth – then invite them. Whether it’s your giveaway, raffle, new product, a demonstration, discount on services for all VIP visitors or an announcement of a merger or partnership, you must have a compelling reason to come to your trade show table. If your reason is compelling enough they will make plans to visit your booth.

5. Qualify Your Prospects

Many trade show exhibitors will use giveaways to attract prospects to their booth. While giveaways are good way to increase traffic to your booth they do not produce strong leads. A great way to qualify prospects and weed out people that are just there for free stuff is by doing a raffle.

To get the most out of the raffle you must ASK some qualifying questions. Qualify all entries – they must fill out ALL information on a form to enter the raffle. You should ask for E-MAIL so you can build your opt-in e-mail list, be sure to let them know that you will be e-mailing them from time to time with specials and promotions – get their interest level, purchase time frame and decision makers in the process and whatever else you need to create a REAL, QUALIFIED LEAD. When you do your review later on you will know exactly who is interested in your product or service, and who is not.

6. The Booth Message

The biggest and most common mistake I see on trade show displays is a company’s names scrawled across the top of their booth. Remember you are there to capture the PROSPECTS attention simply posting XYZ Company at the top of your booth is unlikely to do that. Hopefully, you have developed whatever message you want to convey prior to the show, make sure your booth is conveying that message quickly and clearly! Remember you have just 6 seconds to capture a prospects attention and creating a powerful message is the best way to accomplish that.

7. The Booth Graphics

Great trade show graphics will convey your great message. Having your graphics produced by a qualified professional will make the difference between a “decent” show and a “blowout”!

So when your graphics are being designed and produced you want to keep some things in mind.

  • Message, Message, Message
  • Colors and images that convey your message
  • If your designer doesn’t know the emotions elicited by different colors – get a new designer. (remember the 6 seconds rule)
  • Your booth and graphics are a big investment and should be designed and produced by a qualified professional who will consult with you on developing your message within your budget.
  • A good trade show booth does not have to be expensive and an expensive trade show booth does not have to be good.


After a trade show a prospect has a lot of information to digest. Most likely they visited a number of booths after visiting yours, but there is a sure fire way to get them to remember you- BE THE FIRST ONE TO FOLLOW UP!

Remember you need to touch your prospects up to 12 times. Three times before the show, once at the show and at least 4 follow ups after the show. Send useful information each time, ads, newspaper mentions etc. Don’t give up – you will be surprised at the power of consistent “informational” follow ups.


I’ve said it a number of times throughout this article and I am giving it its own section because it really is that important. The most essential thing you can remember about trade show success is that no one really cares what you sell, what you do, who you are, who you’ve done business with, why you are here or anything else about you. It’s sad but its true and it is vital to your trade show success or failure. The only thing prospects care about is how a service our product can benefit them! Have a message that accomplishes this, be prepared to present that message and you are guaranteed success.

10. Bonus Tips

- Killer mini tip #1 – Don’t EVER sit down in your booth – Studies show that people will pay 26% more for the exact same product if the vendor is standing!

- Killer mini tip #2 – Smile, always be smiling, don’t frown, and smile (get it?) If you can smile at the prospect then say their name, you have successfully opened the door – now just apply your 1 minute pitch!

- Killer mini tip #3 – Look relaxed / be relaxed – Body language is extremely important – many prospects walking by are actually “nervous” about stopping because you might ask them a question they don’t know the answer to. If you are relaxed then you are approachable and they are more likely to engage you.

- Killer mini tip #4 – Make them feel important – BECAUSE THEY ARE! Make every discussion about them, not you. Which approach will be more effective?

Source: ManagingBlog - Top 10 Tips for Trade Show Success