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Don’t Just Stand There in Your Trade Show Booth, Do Something!

Do you want to stand out in your trade show exhibit? Then don’t just stand there, do something!

Gone are the days when you could just stand in your booth and enough people would walk in. Now, while a few will, it won’t be enough to make your trade shows profitable.

To get more people into your booth, you’ve got to do something. You need to do something that catches their eye, stops them in their tracks, and draws them in. Here are 4 suggestions:

Smiling Businessman Pointing At Invisible Product

1. Get on Your Feet and Talk to Attendees
For most booth staffers this is a big challenge. Talking to strangers as they pass by their booth is simply outside their comfort zone. So they unfortunately stay deep inside their booth, waiting for the select few attendees who walk in on their own accord. Exceed your peers by standing at the edge of your booth, and engaging people with a good opening line, such as “What are you looking for at the show?”, “Have you seen our newest product?”, or “Where are you from?” If you want more booth staffing ideas, click here.

2. Demonstrate Your Products
By demonstrating your product, you create movement that gets attention, and you intrigue prospects so that they will discover a better solution to their problems. So, demonstrate why your product is better than your competitors’ products. Make the benefits as clear as possible so that attendees walking by your booth will instantly understand how you can help them. You can start your demo before there is anyone in your booth – eventually they will stop, and if they don’t, you didn’t lose anything for your time. Demos are one of the best promotion ideas – for more, click here.

If your product is so big you can’t afford to bring it to the show, then find a way to demo the key aspect that clients will grasp and see your competitive advantage. If it is too small, then use a movie camera to project an enlarged live video image onto a big monitor near your demo. If you don’t have a physical product to demo, then find a way to communicate your message, such as a presentation – the next point:

3. Host a Presentation
Give a live presentation that makes explicit why prospects would benefit from working with you. Tell them stories about how you have solved your clients problems, how your product makes them money, lowers their expenses, and reduces risk. Put chairs for them to sit in, and ask your most extroverted booth staffers or hired crowd gatherers to help fill the seats. Just be sure to have your staffers trained and ready to convert presentation attendees into leads once the presentation ends.

4. Entertain Trade Show Attendees
If you are targeting most of the show’s attendees, then hire an entertainer to gather a crowd. It can be a magician, an artist, dancers, and musicians – anything that will cause attendees to pause and smile. Entertainers who are familiar with trade shows will work your company messages into their routine. If they are drawing a crowd, then it’s up to your booth staffers to qualify them and turn them into leads, rather than letting them watch and leave.

Creating movement in your booth is hard work (my physics teacher defined work as moving a weight through a distance, and you will be moving your body the entire show). But your company has invested a lot for every minute you are at that show. Keep moving, and make the most of it.

betterboothstaffingRead and implement the ideas in the Better Booth Staffing for Greater Trade Show Results white paper and really improve the performance of your trade show program. Because there is so much riding on your booth staffers, as 85% of what attendees remember is based on them, and trade shows are still the top marketing spend for business-to-business marketers. Click here for your free copy.


About the Author

Mike Thimmesch is the Principal at Thimmesch Marketing. For over 25 years, he has created and implemented innovative marketing, lead generation, and exhibiting strategies that profitably grow company sales and brand awareness. Mike rose to Director level at Skyline Exhibits, where he helped generate over a half million leads, resulting in over $1 billion in sales. He published 11 industry white papers and eight exhibiting books, presented over 100 trade show webinars, and wrote over 200 exhibit marketing blog posts.

4 responses to “Don’t Just Stand There in Your Trade Show Booth, Do Something!

  1. Great post Mike! I can’t stand when staffers are sitting,texting or eating in the booth. In my opinion the uninterested booth staff are the main reason why companies don’t see great results from trade shows. You have to make sure your staff are going to take advantage of every opportunity and generate leads. Everyone should have their booth staff read this post before heading to a show!

    1. Thanks, Rick. Yes, it would be nice to include this as part of booth staff training, if only to help re-set the expectations of veteran booth staffers that they should expect to be moving all the time!

  2. Great article Mike.
    Here is another nugget that adds fun in the mix and eases the task of talking to strangers. Add the element ‘pay to play’ to your display. For example, a game where visitors are required to spin a wheel in order to win a prize that is apt for your business. Be sure to get contact information from players in exchange for participating.

    For more ideas to increase participation check out:

  3. Great article. One important advantage to entertainment is that it’s a completely different message from every other booth. Everyone else is screaming “buy my stuff” while my clients are saying “let’s take a break and have some fun…” That really helps you stop traffic.

    It’s important to note that a good entertainer isn’t just “fun” and traffic. You can stop thousands, but you have to have a way to connect your prospects and your sales team. That’s a key point of my presentations – we aren’t just talking about traffic and visibility, we’re talking about identifying qualified prospects in the aisle, and making your prospects pursue your sales team. (BTW, that also solves the bored/bad booth staffer: what sales guy doesn’t want a constant flow of qualified prospects asking informed questions that he can turn into appointments and sales?)

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