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  • Writer's pictureKen Newman

Top Ten Tips to Turbocharge Your Trade Show

#1 Smaller Can be better.

When selecting your booth size, keep in mind that investing in a 20 X 40 might not guarantee you a more successful show. A smaller booth that is constantly packed is not only a LOT less expensive than a big half-empty booth, but it will generate much more excitement. Think of your last dinner party. Doesn't everyone seem to congregate in the smallest room in the house?

#2 Make sure your booth staff is always ready to talk to potential customers.

That means, don’t sit down. And avoid standing in groups of two or more fellow staffers. Stand near the aisles. Look out at the crowd – make eye contact. Smile. Don’t say, “Can I help you?” They’ll say, “NO.” Instead, look at their name tags. USE their name. Ask them what their company does. Invite them into the booth. (Oh, I should mention that Magnet Productions provides free booth staff training both before and during the show.)

#3 Have a live presentation.

(OK, we produce them, so you’d expect us to say that.) But we’re not talking about entertainment for entertainment’s sake. Bippy the Mime making a workstation out of balloons may be impressive, but it’s not likely to ensure you qualified leads. When we say live presentation, we mean having someone represent your company who is engaging, knowledgeable, and will interact with the audience. Most trade show presentations sound like staged readings of Marketing White Papers. Don’t do this. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, talks about “24 by seven, valued-added solutions, that will optimize your performance and enable reliable, available, and scalable deliverables ….” Instead, say it in English. Yes, we write scripts, too.

#4 Use giveaways to build booth traffic.

BUT, don’t just GIVE stuff away. USE that stress ball, t-shirt, Frisbee, hat, corn dog, whatever to quiz the audience on what they’ve just heard. Use it to get them to ask questions. You can also use higher-priced giveaways as an incentive to get people to the demo stations – to get them into the booth. (We’ve got some great ideas on unusual promotional giveaway items.)

#5 Keep the live presentation or product demonstration short.

Seven minutes is ideal. Ten minutes is the limit. Fifteen minutes – get the hook ! Trade Show Attendees have a lot of real estate to cover. Don’t feel you have to tell them your ENTIRE STORY. Pique their interest, get them to want to know more. Give them time to spend in your booth.

#6 Have a live presentation.

(Did I say that already?) Well, it bears repeating. The presentation can be entertaining, but there has to be a point. Our formula has always been 80% content and 20% humor. People love to laugh and actually retain more information when they do. BUT, they want the information. A strong presenter with a well-scripted presentation can keep a crowd captivated with nothing more than a microphone. We’ve done live shows in booths as small as 5 X 10, and pulled in 200+ interested attendees per presentation.

#7 Be at the show BEFORE the show.

Work on building booth traffic before the show begins. Send out information to existing clients and potential customers about what will be happening in your booth. Offer incentives for people who show up on the first day. Post 'teaser' videos on your website and use YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to help build a buzz. (And yes, if you're wondering, we can help with that, too.)

#8 Make sure your booth is very accessible.

That means NO WALLS. You need to make it as easy as possible for people to come into your booth. They are already resistant enough. They don’t need additional barriers. And here’s an interesting point. Studies have shown that if your carpet is similar in color to the carpet used in the aisles, people are more inclined to come into your booth. I know it sounds weird, but it’s true. By the way, we work with a number of companies that can design a perfect booth on any budget.

#9 If you have a presentation or demo area, don’t have too many seats.

This may sound like a strange suggestion, but there’s a reason for it. A seating area with 50 chairs is intimidating. Few people want to be the first to sit down. Also, if you have an audience of 25 people, it still looks half empty. But with a dozen or so seats, you’re looking at a ‘Standing Room Only’ crowd. People walking by will be more interested in what’s going on if all the seats are full.

#10 Have at least one crowd gatherer / booth staff assistant.

But let’s be clear. We are not talking about scantily clad eye candy for your booth. We’re talking about warm, engaging, gregarious greeters. Men and women who will chat up people in the aisles, scan their badges, ask them qualifying questions, invite them into your booth and introduce them to your knowledgeable (and well trained) staff. These folks can also act as Product Specialists who have the advantage of also being GREAT conversation starters.

#11 Bonus Tip

Contact us at and ask about our free assessment questionnaire. Just complete it and we will send you a custom e-book with specific actions to help make your next trade show, your best trade show.

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