• Mark Hokanson

Tips For A Successful Trade Show

Booth Appearance

1. Booth layout is critical.

The idea is to keep your space open and inviting to your potential clients. Place tables and any display objects towards the sides of your booth or in areas that free up your entry way. Any barriers between you and your visitors can become barriers to your ROI.

2. Think of your booth as a billboard. You have three seconds at 70 mph to attract that attendee!

3. Avoid stacking brochures on counters. Have your booth personnel pass them out instead. This creates more opportunity for a request from the visitor, which paves the way for conversation.

4. Avoid stacking giveaways on tables. This only attracts bag-stuffers.

Instead, hide the giveaways and only give them to attendees

who have provided their contact information.

5. Neat. Neat. Neat. Keep your booth neat, clean, organized and clutter free.

Personal Appearance

1. Wear appropriate clothes. You should always dress to create a good first impression. Be clean, neat and well pressed. Different geographical areas have different dress codes. For example, the east coast is more formal than the west coast. Midwest and gulf coast audiences are more relaxed, where open-neck sport shirts, sports jackets and slacks are appropriate. Like the east coast, some professions, such as medical, banking and business executives are more responsive to the ‘power suit’ image.

2. Wear comfortable shoes. At a trade show, your feet are your friends, and comfortable shoes are mandatory. Make sure your shoes are appropriate for the way you are are dressed (ex: recreational shoes are not appropriate for an indoor show, but may be fine for a boat show).

3. Be polished. Neat hair, clean fingernails, and minimal jewelry, makeup and perfume are all a must.

Boothmanship and Manners

1. Always wear your badge on your right side. This makes it easier to read during introduction and shaking hands.

2. Introduce yourself by full name and company. Do not assume they read your badge.

3. Treat business cards with respect. When someone gives you a business card, always take notice of it. Grabbing the card and stuffing it in your pocket or in the giveaway box is considered rude and disrespectful. Use the person’s name in conversation and when thanking them for stopping by. When they have left your booth, write something memorable on the back of the card to help you recall your conversation with them. Writing something personally specific such as their needs or a memorable passing comment you can later refer to in follow-up will let your prospective clients know that you are listening.

4. Stop talking and listen. It is impossible to uncover your visitor’s needs if you are doing all the talking. They stopped in for a reason. Find out what it is.

5. Stand up straight. Always look honored that they have chosen to stop by your booth.

6. Make eye contact. This shows that you are focused on them and not your surroundings.

7. Keep your arms unfolded and hands out of your pockets. Crossing your arms makes you look unapproachable. Your hands should be used for introductions and emphasis rather than tinkering with your keys.

8. Avoid asking, “May I help you?” The most common response to this question is “No, I’m just looking,” and you’ve lost a prospect.

9. Never use your cell phone in the booth. Step away from your space if you need to make a call.

10. Never smoke, eat, drink or chew gum. This is unprofessional.

11. Be aware of how your breath smells. Avoid smelly foods that cling to your breath and clothes. This includes alcohol consumption the night before. Keep breath mints on hand and use them discreetly.

12. Do not get caught sitting down in your booth. This makes the prospect feel inconvenient.

13. Do not over engage in conversation with your booth mates. This gives the impression you are too busy to be bothered.

14. Smile and be pleasant. This one never gets old to the show attendees.


The Trade Show Guru

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