8 Surefire Ways to Stand Out at Your Next Tradeshow

By on 01/9/2015

Attending trade shows is an incredible way to gain exposure, get publicity and even find sales reps for your company. But let’s face it—hundreds or thousands of companies attend the same trade shows, so you’ll need a way to stand out. Here’s how.

tradeshow booth

Everyone is vying for your audience’s attention at a tradeshow. And they will all use luring tactics; they will distribute branded items, talk about their products, and do everything possible to scan attendees’ badges with lead retrieval scanners. Most companies use the same trade show tactics as each other, and attendees eventually forget who was who. But there are other, smarter ways to strategically approach trade shows that will make you stand out from other companies and competitors and stay on attendees’ brains long after the event is over.

Train Your Staff
Costumes, props and freebies all take a back seat to having employees in the booth who’ve been trained in trade show skills.Attendees often walk the trade show floor in zombie mode. If they’re approached aggressively, they tend to leave. If they’re ignored, they tend to leave. The simple secret to breaking them out of zombie mode is with a non-threatening approach like “Enjoying the show?” Most people will stop and engage.

Ideas: Before attending the show, take an afternoon to go over key strategy and main points with your staff. Be sure they each have a unique 30-second elevator speech prepared that highlights your product or company energetically but non-aggressively.

Make Your Trade Show Presence ‘Inbound’
The initial visual will be your trade show table cover.  Make it bright and inviting with photo quality images.  A first impression will be a lasting one.Conduct a brainstorm and do something different than the average trade show booth. Whether that means constructing unique signage, showcasing something truly unique in your booth, or featuring an activity that draws people to your neck of the woods, do it!  Give attendees something they won’t not be able to resist as they walk by, pulling them in the inbound way.   Food that arouses the senses, coffee or candy all work well.  Display all “goodies” to the back of your booth area.  People will need to walk through your booth to get to the treat and may find something of interest along the way.

Ideas: photo booth, caricature artist, “wheel-of-fortune” spinner for prizes

Present a Pristine Product
If you are showcasing a product, think Christmas morning- shiny and new.And don’t forget to bring more than one. Not only do you need enough to make a presentation in your booth, but also replacement product for any that may have broken in transit, gotten soiled or get banged up during the course of the tradeshow. While customers may be sympathetic, you only have one shot to make an impression.

Make Follow-up Easy
Even if you use a digital scanner, some people will leave a business card. Bring an expandable file for orders and business cards. You will have all of your post-show work in one neat handy place.Be sure to write any follow-up info on the back of the customer’s business card. Things like, “took catalog,” “ordered,” “call in two weeks”—any information that will assist you in prompt follow up after the show.

Create Foreshadowing
Do an e-mail blast and social media blasts about your service/product a few weeks before the show. Be sure to include a “Come see us at XYZ show” with the dates, locations and your booth number. This is a great place to mention any prizes you might be offering too! Hook them early.

Leverage Social Media
Create a hashtag for your presence and give fans/followers compelling reasons why they’d want to come visit your booth. This may include a special giveaway, a new product announcement, or even the opportunity to be the first to have access to new data. Make your posts personal, and engage with your followers one-on-one. During the trade show, promote your hashtag at your booth or use the event’s hashtag if one is available, and tweet/instagram about the interesting things you have going on at your booth.

Create a Targeted Experience on Your Website
Set up a unique landing page on your website that promotes your trade show presence and gives hints about the value attendees can expect to get from you by attending your booth there. Use this opportunity to also provide them an opportunity to download an ebook or whitepaper that relates to the theme of the trade show. If people are interested in what you are saying, they will have another reason to attend the trade show.

Mind Your Manners
Etiquette goes a long way, even at trade show.

  • Show up on time and don’t leave the booth early.
  • Keep your booth neat and clean.
  • Have brochures/catalogs on the table so that a buyer may just take the literature if they choose not to stop for the sales pitch.
  • Keep all banners and display materials within the booth proper.
  • Greet buyers when they stop at your booth.
  • Thank buyers for stopping by or writing an order.

A successful trade show is dependent upon positive attitudes and communication among your booth staff.  All the giveaways, attractions and excitement will initially work, but the follow up is most critical.  A short personal note of thanks goes a long way.  Enjoy the show and make it fun for you and all those that attend.

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