Advice on Exhibiting at Trade Shows

What are ways to drive more leads to your booth that have been successful? Unsuccessful? And what are the must-haves when tabling at a trade show?

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@InCharged Glad you asked this question as I see so many organisations spend good money on their stand then fail to work it and leave not rating the show. Some top tips I’ve picked up along the way are:

  • Get your stand staff on the front of the stand throughout the show not hiding at the back, talking to each other, on the phone etc. They should be engaging with everyone who passes the stand. A smile or “good morning” can be enough to start a conversation with a potential buyer

  • Make sure your stand design doesn’t include any barriers - physical or visual - to dissuade people from coming on to your stand

  • Switch phones to silent. The stand team need to be focused on who is in the room

  • Absolutely no eating on the stand unless you’re catering for clients on there and if so do that at the back of the stand. I’ve seen people munching on pizza, baguettes…even a curry! It looks unprofessional rather than inviting

  • Ensure everyone on your stand knows who your “big fish” is i.e. the one person you want to visit your stand more than any other and plan for that

  • Work out how you’re going to get time-wasters to move on so they’re not stopping genuine business coming on to your stand…especially not that big fish!

  • Don’t judge a book by its cover - at a well known consumer show, a rather scruffy looking visitor was ignored by staff on a stand selling ÂŁÂŁmulti-million products so he bought from their competitor.

  • Be a great listener - get the visitor talking about their business, their challenges, objectives etc. If you can’t help but you know a man who can take this person over to them - both parties will remember you and may come back to you on another occasion.

  • Make sure you have the latest product on your stand. A media outlet I’m aware of didn’t have the current issue on their stand at a consumer show they’d previewed in it.

  • Follow up any leads at the very earliest opportunity. Send them a brochure rather than burdening them with one to lug around the show which may end up in the bin, left on the train, in the boot of their car etc.

In terms of your stand proposition, be as single-minded about your stand proposition as you can. What does your target audience want from you? What do you want them to take away with them? What is your USP? What is your message? This should be evident at a glance when visitors decide between yes, no or maybe.


Great advice @MelissaJane. I would add that it really helps to have some novelty factor to draw people in - this could be free food or drink, fun branded giveaways, a competition, game or chance to try something like VR. It’s just a way to get attention and get talking.
Dependent on what your product/service is, it can also be helpful to have a explainer/demo video playing, so people can just stand back and watch before deciding whether to engage.

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Exactly! What has been helpful to my team is memorable engagement, whether it be a sort of entertainment, but something that is unorthodox to see at a trade show. Supplying amenities is a big one, such as water, food, charging for the phone, etc. A booth design that utilizes all five senses, such as bright contrasting colors, music, etc. Lastly, give aways that are not stress balls or pens. For example, if I was having a trade show in London, perhaps a give away of umbrellas or if the attendees are all sporty junkies, a branded sports bag would do the job. I think the biggest thing however is interactivity. How interactive is your booth? What are you doing to engage with these attendees? And how are you capturing their information?

Ramon A. Perez


Some great suggestions here. Comes back to knowing your audience and a giveaway with a perceived value to that audience can work really well. I once took an inflatable dinosaur giveaway home from an exhibition. Not sure what that says about me (!) but by 10am the next morning everyone in my office had seen it on my desk, asked why I had it and knew where it was from.

At another event I attended PRS for Music were giving a canvas tote bag away with a slogan about music on it. Everyone was taking one and within minutes of the event opening the bags were hanging from visitors’ shoulders across the show floor - literally walking advertisements which got those who didn’t yet have a bag looking for the PRS stand.

One of the best giveaways I’ve ever received was from the Swiss Convention Bureau. It was a Swiss army knife keyring with all the usual tools, as well as a USB memory stick - endlessly useful, just like any good CVB should be!

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I personally enjoyed getting a branded sports back pack at one trade show because it allowed me to carry everything effortlessly. It’s also great because you know people will wear the backpack during the trade show. My personal favorite was a giveaway of a portable charger.

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Agree, I’ve also received a portable charger and it’s proven to be a lifesaver on a few occasions!

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I need to go to more shows!