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Your Trade Show Booth Staffers Are Animals

Ever hear someone say that trade shows are a zoo?  Or perhaps a jungle?  Then there should be lots of animals at trade shows, especially staffing the booths.

In that vein, here are 12 animals that your booth staffers might act like.  Some are good, some not so much.  See if you can recognize anyone from your team in this marketing menagerie:

Do your trade show booth staffers want to hide from visitors?This tall flightless bird is known for burying its head in the sand when scared.  Do you have staffers that similarly get so scared of engaging attendees that they’d put their head under the carpet if they could?  Ah, you’ve got an ostrich.

Do your trade show booth staffers want to lounge around all day?They’ve got a mane of great hair, and they’re known as the king of the jungle.  But the male lion actually spends most of the day lounging around, letting the lioness do nearly all the hunting.  Does that sound like any of your heavy-hitter sales people that merely pose in your booth, acting like they are above the hard work of taking leads?

Do any of your trade show booth staffers try to pocket leads?Female kangaroos have a pouch in front to hold their cherished babies.  So what kind of booth staffer would be a kangaroo?  Well, have you ever seen salespeople try to pocket a lead from outside their territory rather than put it into the lead slot?  That’s marsupial madness on the show floor.

Do your trade show booth staffers urgently pursue leads the whole show?In autumn, the threat of oncoming winter inspires squirrels to ceaselessly gather and store food.  They know they have only so much time left, and they use it wisely.  Booth staffers would do well to emulate the same work ethic to persistently gather leads during the few show hours they have before the show closes for the year.

Are your trade show booth staffers friendly and approachable?Man’s best friend can be an asset when the man (or woman) you’re trying to befriend is the buyer in the aisle.  We’re not thinking guard dog here, we’re thinking always happy and smiley Labrador retriever pups.  Friendly, approachable booth staffers are a must-have if you want to project a welcome environment in your booth.

Do your trade show booth staffers stubbornly resist best practices and flexible presentation methods?As in “stubborn as a mule.” A booth staffer acts like a mule when they bray to another staffer or into the phone, “Trade shows don’t work!” while they sit off to the side.  They are too stubborn to risk learning how to truly engage attendees, or alter their presentation for different attendee types.

Do your booth staffers stay out all night and want to sleep all day?Like a raccoon, do you have nocturnal booth staffers that want to party all night, and then sleep all day?  These raccoons miss their booth staffing hours, or if they do show up, they waddle around the booth with dark sleep rings around their eyes.

Do your trade show booth staffers clump together and discourage visitors from entering?It is impressive to behold a glittering school of fish that travel together and turn left and right as one.  However, if your staffers stay bunched together like a school of fish, they put up a barrier to entering your trade show display, and also can fall into the trap of talking with each other instead of engaging attendees one-on-one.

Can your sales people sell as well in the trade show as in the field?Frogs are amphibians that can adapt and thrive on both land and in water.  Prized is the booth staffer who is an excellent sales person in the field, but can also adapt their selling method to the unique environment of the trade show.  


A bear is a big, powerful animal that should add considerable strength to any team.  But just as a bear hibernates through the winter season, you don’t want a booth staffer that gets so tired they sleepwalk through a quarter of the show.

Do your trade show booth staffers get too aggressive when they hunt for new leads?Having a wolf in the booth could be a good thing – it’s valuable to have someone sharply focused on hunting for new business.  But at a trade show, you should be afraid of a really big bad wolf on your booth staff, because overly aggressive behavior scares away attendees and will starve your business.

Do your trade show booth staffers take too long jawing with unqualified leads?Can you picture a goat chewing away all day at a tin can, or an old shoe, regardless of its nutritional value?  Unfortunately, your booth staffers don’t have time to waste jawing with a worthless lead.  They’ve got to learn to recognize and disengage from poor quality leads, so they can spend their valuable time speaking with more qualified attendees.

Did you recognize any of your booth staffers in this trade show animal kingdom?  I hope you have lots of squirrels, frogs, and dogs in your booth, and not so many lions, ostriches, and bears.  Do you have ideas for other “animals” that you’ve had staff your booth?  Let us in on the joke in the comment box below.

Trade Show Booth Staffing GuidebookWant some excellent ways to boost your booth staffers’ results that don’t require treating them like animals?  Get your free 48-page Booth Staffing Guidebook, filled with insightful articles, worksheets, and checklists, by clicking here and requesting your 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.

16 responses to “Your Trade Show Booth Staffers Are Animals

  1. Love it! My biggest fear is that clients will send a mule to the show. It happens so often I just don’t understand what they are thinking. Some are a bit more subtle than others but they are running in herds all over the show floors. Oddly enough…squirrels seem to be the most rare at the show.

    1. Hello Traci,

      I would also love more squirrels and fewer mules!

      Mules make themselves heard, so they are easier to find. Squirrels on the other hand can be so quiet about their success that you won’t realize how good they are until after the show when you look at the pile of note-covered lead cards with their initials on it.

  2. What a great analogy. I’ll send my clients to this page when they need a laugh (or a wake up call!)

  3. I’d like to add shark to the list as a weird interspecies genetic mutation of the wolf & fish varieties… they’re voracious predators that spend so much time moving around looking for blood, they don’t stop to have a meaningful conversation!

  4. I laughed at this article… I actually do have some of my dogs sitting in my booth at the pet expos I do! I usually have at least two Chinese Crested dogs in various spots in the booth! As for the two legged ones, I have several of the animals you listed above.

  5. Nice analogy. I’d like to add the Honey Bee to the list of personality/worker types. That would be someone who’s always busy collecting the trade show honey. LEADS!

  6. Ah, yes, I’ve seen a few raccoons over the years. Bring me those treasured frogs any day! Good job once again, Michael. Amusing article that is also right on point.

  7. I appreciate models like these.
    After sharing this article with a pair of show staffers I learned they enjoy inservicing at clinical sites but not so much shows.
    Without sharing this I never would have had the opportunity to use them for their passion for education instead of squirreling away like I do.

    1. Kate,

      That is very mature of you to actually ask your team if they want to staff your trade show booth. Now that you know what they really like, you can find other people who are willing and able to step in. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

  8. Don’t forget the peacock. One who stands in the booth and challenges the booth with her outfit as an attraction. When questioned they always require the assistance of a company staffer to handle even the easiest of questions.

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