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Trade Shows Are A Zoo

“This place is a zoo,” was spoken by the alligator in his typical New York accent. As a youngster this was the start of a TV spot for the local zoo. Thinking about that today I can see its relevance in today’s trade show and events world. zoo

The New Lion is Here: When a zoo gets a new, high-profile animal, it draws a bigger crowd. It’s the same for trade shows – seeing new products is the #1 reason attendees go to shows. Make sure to feed your new product “animal” well, give it good placement, lighting, traffic flow, interactive content, meeting areas, and most importantly make sure that lion display looks great.

The Petting Zoo: Kids flock to get their hands on the animals in the petting zoo. Similarly, never underestimate the power of a good demo. That hands-on interactive time with attendees is not only one of the best ways to help drive traffic, but it also allows you to gain valuable input from those closest to your industry.

Don’t Feed the Animals: Make sure you are not overfeeding your booth with too many of the wrong people who are coming in just for the treats. Remember, you can tier your giveaways. A candy bowl is an inexpensive way to get the traffic in the aisle to slow down. Tchotchkes are a great way to start that face-to-face discussion. And a premium giveaway can either thank a prospect or help push them over the fence to engage in real business dialog.

Animals Pacing In Cages: Get rid of the cages and remove the barriers between you and your possible customer. The best zoos invite you in to experience the environment. Similarly, move that eight foot table out of the aisle, open up the floor space with smaller tables that double as storage, and invite people in to engage in real conversation and experiences.

Roaming Herds: With upwards of 100,000 people at some shows you may only speak to 10% of them, follow up with 2% of them, and only need to close a few to classify your show as an incredible success. Proper pre-show promotions and post-show follow-up is a mandatory in order to gain ROI and keep the business moving forward.

The Worm Exhibit: No one ever screams to see the worm exhibit but every company and every product can still be an attention-getter with a few quick tips: Create something that speaks directly to your target audience, differentiates you from others, and is ownable by your company and only your company.

Remember The Zoo Keepers: Even when you have the best exhibit, the best animals, and the best placement in the zoo, it is the zoo keeper that keeps the animals from getting sick, shovels the “!@#$%”, and gets the job done. Set a seasoned trade show staffer as the lead, hold morning huddles, set goals and keep to them. Make sure to train your booth staffers and keep everyone headed towards the same goals.

So, remember when you went to the zoo and all the animals were sleeping? That wasn’t much fun. Instead, take the right steps at your next show to keep the animals lively, and the attendees will reward you and your company.


Don’t let your staffers slump in their cages when staffing a show. Read and implement the ideas in the Better Booth Staffing for Greater Trade Show Results, and really improve the performance of your trade show program and learn strategies to keep your booth staffers alive and ready to pounce. Click here for your free copy.

About the Author

Jason Kelly is a Trade Show Marketing Consultant with Skyline Exhibits and Design based in South Carolina. With fifteen years of experience building strategy and event tactics for some of the biggest brands in the industry, he is most pleased when he sees his clients succeed.

8 responses to “Trade Shows Are A Zoo

  1. I have said for years that directing Attendees around the Show Floor is like herding cats chasing butterflies… :-)

  2. As a consumer expo and marketing consultant, this article is a great reminder to organizers that the fundamentals of the show process can be presented in a fresh and fun read, but still remind us to focus on our customers experience as well as a well-organized and well-advertised event.

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