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Trade Show Tips for Exhibitors

Written by Amy Chan


Posted on October 23 2014

No amount of preparation makes the actual day of the show a walk in the park.  You can have all your materials set, your booth ready to go, but when it’s time to open that door and walk in, you have to be alert and on your toesDon’t panic.  You can do it!  While planning ahead is crucial, don’t forget to focus on being prepared to handle curve balls, screw balls, spit balls and knucklers!

Here are some tips for being ready for the big trade show.

First of all, the very worst thing that can happen is you arrive on the day before the show, and some critical piece of your presentation has failed to arrive with you.  Or worse yet, a storm in Chicago has affected your connecting flight in Atlanta and you miss your flight.  Sure, maybe everything will go smoothly.  But wouldn’t you rather have a few extra hours to kick around town before the trade show starts, knowing everything is in order, rather than that stressful run down the tarmac with pamphlets flying every which way?  Always plan to arrive the day BEFORE the day before the show.  That allows extra time in case something goes wrong (and it will one of these times) and lets you sleep easy. 

Similarly, always bring more money than you think you’re going to need.  This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to plan out the budget in advance.  But after your carefully thought out budget is in place, allow an extra pillow for that emergency fund.  Again, if your product or some part of your presentation either doesn’t show up, or breaks, or fails, you need an emergency fund to get that last minute replacement. 

Let’s talk about the booth itself, and your actual presence at the show.  When it comes to operating the booth, there are three major factors in your booth’s success.  1) the booth itself; 2) the staff you have employed at the booth; and 3) what you’re actually selling.  It is important for you to take control over as many aspects of these three things as you can.  Your staff must be trained and have an in-depth and un-stumpable product knowledge.  The absolute worst catastrophe that can befall your booth is if during a presentation, or conversation with a potential client, an employee or staff member has to say “I don’t know.”  Goodbye, sale.

If your product or service is possible to demonstrate, you absolutely must have a demonstration, and an eye-catching and slick one at that.  Train your employees before ever getting to the site of the trade show, so that they know the ins and outs of the demo, and what sort of issues may arise.  Troubleshooting with an audience is stressful, unprofessional, and clearly disastrous. 

Additionally, it always helps to take time to learn your competitor’s products and then compare yours to theirs, and of course show why yours is far superior.  Apple and Samsung are always using each other’s phones and tablets to show why theirs is superior.  It not only shows the customer that your product is better, but it shows that you’re not just saying it (even though you probably are), and you have actually looked into the competition and can show why yours is better.

Last but not least, if you can exude enthusiasm for your product, it will be contagious to the show attendees.  This does not mean that you should hire pin up girls to smile and giggle and be overly excited about what you’ve got: that’s insincere.  But your booth’s staff members should genuinely like the product, feel excited talking about it, and engage anyone and everyone in a discussion about it.  Putting on an air of enthusiasm will go a long way.