By: Marne Brobeck

trade show

Walk the floor of any trade show and you will see any number of concepts meant to draw attention. Roulette wheels, magicians, trinkets of all things imaginable–it seems that anything goes and often does when clients are asked to display their products and services. The one constant is that trade shows are hard work. Whether you volunteered or just the lucky one chosen to be the company mouthpiece, you will find the days long and tiring. Arrive fresh and prepared to show your best side.

Trade Shows and Golf Courses.

I don’t chase the little white ball, but I know that many business deals have been inked at the links. Trade Shows likely rank well above the aforementioned in regards to closing deals, so what can you, as a vendor, do to increase your percentages of attracting new and qualified customers? The easy answers are size of booth and location. Since these are so obvious and often non-negotiable, lets move on to others.

Create a storefront even if you’re selling services first and products second. Learn a lesson from Verizon. They make their money on service fees, but what do you recall seeing in their stores? Phones–lots of phones. Trade show attendees want to see the products, even if the majority of costs lean more towards the service fees. Keep this in mind… service agreements are words, where products are tangible items that can be held and will resonate with your audience.

Booth graphics should create a clear message as to what your company sells.  Have you ever walked up to a booth only to discover what the vendor is selling wasn’t your initial thought? What happened? How could the messaging not only miss the mark, but the entire wall? My guess is the vendor attempted to spew as much information as possible in the shortest amount of time. Sound the “Fail Buzzer” now! Let your booth graphics breathe and be more visual. If your booth resembles a tri-fold brochure (every foot of space occupied by words) you need to ask yourself, “Why do I have my sales staff here?” In short, let the booth graphics introduce your company. And let your company salesperson engage with the customer.

Don’t blend in. My business partner and I took notes as we walked one trade show floor. Our purpose was to see how many vendors used the words, “Solutions, Technology, or Next Generation” in their main messaging. Amazingly, almost half of all booths had these words in their company’s description. Maybe these words best described the offerings of each company. Nonetheless, overused words like these lose their impact and meaning. They also make your company look stale and lacking imagination.

Other topics that could easily fit into this blog include:

• Colors that recede and advance

• Lighting to add depth

• Graphics at eye level

• Interactive displays

• Brand continuity

• Multi-messaging

• Cross-selling

• Create an event


Ah, so many ideas… so little time.