10 Tips for Exhibiting Success

We want your experience at the expo to be the best it can be.

To help ensure your success we've outlined some exhibiting tips. Remember, your exhibiting experience is directly related to your ability to engage the attendees. Please take a minute, read the tips, and let us know if you have any questions or need some ideas. We're here to help!




1) Set clear goals for your expo participation

What do you want to get out of it?

Do you expect to sell a particular amount of inventory at the expo, or expect to become known in the community as a resource? Are you focusing on promotion and increasing brand awareness or hoping to launch a new product? Whether it is branding, sales, or collecting prospects, this planning helps you focus your message and your goal.

You can have more than one goal, of course, but the point is to be clear about what your participation in the expo is going to achieve.

Be sure to train your staff.

Make sure they know the goals, why you are exhibiting, your focus, and how to answer to key questions. That way everyone is presenting your marketing message and makes for a professional appearance. You only have one chance to make a first impression - which will most likely be a visual impression. Consider wearing the same colors, a shirt with a logo, or some type of professional attire.

2) Advertise in advance

Put the word out that you’re participating in a particular expo by inviting your clients, customers, suppliers, and other contact to attend the show. If you have one, be sure to advertise your expo participation on your website as well.

You want this experience to be part of your overall marketing continuum. By including the show as part of a bigger plan your company can leverage it for momentum in the marketplace. Build your pre-show marketing plan on and around your company’s overall marketing plan. This goes back to planning your goal and your overall message. For example, your message may be that you have the best customer service, or the purest ingredients. Decide your focus and simplify your message.

The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) has collected some data on advertising prior to an expo or trade show event. Here is what they found:

  • 33% of attendees visit a booth in response to an advertisement.
  • Exhibitors that advertise attract 56% more attendees than exhibitors that do not advertise.



3) Arrange your display

Think neatness and visibility when putting your expo display together.

You have three seconds to grab buyers’ attention as they walk down the aisle. To make sure your display is noticed, design your graphics so they are visible from 30 feet. Make sure the design quickly and clearly tells buyers why they will benefit from coming to your booth. Your graphics must answer these buyer questions: “Who are you? What is your product? What is your offer, and why should I care?”

The 5 things every display should include:

Your booth should have a visual, headline, description, name, logo, and website. You want to have a focal point.

Use a display board to hang some of your products at customer eye-level to draw them into your display. Make sure your display is organized and tidy; customers will be turned off by messiness or by having to do too much searing to find what they want. Have all your prices clearly marked. Consider arranging your display table in levels. For example, larger items in back and smaller items in the front.

Build the impressions of demand into your expo display.

Customers will want your products more if they think they’re in high demand. Place a strategic sold sign on one or two items. You might even leave a display spot empty, giving the impression that you’ve been too busy to restock.

Pull a crowd to your expo booth.

Use an interactive display, such as a quiz or game on a computer, a contest drawing, a scheduled demonstration; it doesn’t need to be fancy to draw people’s interest and get them to a cluster around your expo display, rather than the others. At a gardening expo, we once saw over 50 people crowding around to watch an exhibitor demonstrate how to turn compost! OTher examples: hypnosis CDs with headphones, sample products, try on lotions, jewelry; offer a sample of your service. The more senses you appeal to the more interactions you provide, the more likely attendees are to come into your booth.

4) Samples & giveaways

Have a stock of promotion items that you can use as giveaways at your booth.

Small items that people can take away and use (while being reminded about your business) are best. Be sure you place these items in a location where people will have to walk into or through your espo display to get them. You can give away promotional items to encourage people to participate. For example, maybe they need to fill out an informational sheet (that you can use for follow-up), participate in your demonstratio, or play a question and answer game to receive the giveaway.

Use a prize draw or contest

Having some kind of prize drawing or contest is a great way to collect contact information from booth visitors. We encourage you to give away a door prize. Be sure you have all the supplies you will need, including signup sheets and a collection container for entries. You will want to use this as a means to collect contact information on potential customers. Be sure to ask qualifying questions so you will know if it’s a hot lead. For example - if your business is hypnosis you may want to know if they are interested in losing weight or want to stop smoking. Make notes on the back of these entries that could help you later like “has red hair” or “2 kids.”

Establish a tracking mechanism to measure the success of your giveaway

If it is a redemption item, such as a coupon, code it so that you know it resulted from the show. Post-show follow-up could include a question about the premium - did visitors remember receiving it? How useful was the item? After the show, analyze your giveaway with your exhibit team: Did it draw specific prospects to the booth? Was it eye-catching enough to persuade passersby to stop? Did your customers find it useful? Did it project the right corporate image? There are plenty of exciting promotional items for you to choose from so that you can avoid the usual pens, pencils, and key chains. MAke your giveaway work for you and it will be money well invested!

5) Make it easy for booth visitors to get information

Use signs in your expo display to give information about prices, minimum orders, shipping costs, or any other basic information they might need to know, to save them the trouble of having to wait and ask when you’re busy with another potential customer.

6) Make sure you have plenty of promotional literature on hand

You’ll want to have a good supply of color fliers and brochures as well as order forms, price sheets, and business cards that you can hand out to booth visitors so it will be easy for them to find all the information they need about your business later. Don’t use it as a crutch but rather a support.

7) Be ready to do business

Be sure you have a good supply of order forms, pens, credit card slips, or anything else you need to conduct sales and keep track of people’s orders.

Determine the top ten questions that are most likely to be asked about your product or service and prepare to answer in advance.

8) Have your expo booth personed at all times

Someone has to be there to greet browsers, engage them in conversation, and take their questions. If you can’t be there every minute the expo is open, you’ll need to have at least one other person to help attend your booth.

9) Actively engage trade booth visitors

Key Secret - People won’t come in if your body language says “Go away!”

Nonverbal communication plays a huge role in creating first impressions. Attendees are constantly watching. If your body language conveys the fact that you don’t want to be at the show, would prefer not to engage with attendees, or are just going through teh motions, they’ll pick up on that and go elsewhere.

Standing at the corner of your exhibit with your arms folded tells attendees “Stay away! I’m on guard.” Sitting down, looking at your phone, or chatting with colleagues says “I’ve got better things to do.” Altogether, it means “You’re not important to me,” even if you ask the attendees what you can do for them today.

Give people who approach your expo display a friendly welcome, and welcome their questions. “Chat” with booth visitors, and find out what aspects of your business they’re most interested in. Minimize trite questions such as “may I help you?”, “how are you”, etc. Ask open-ended questions. “Can I help you?” only leads to a response of “No, I’m just looking.” Questions like “What prompted your interest in our exhibit?” or, “How did you learn about our products?” requires answers that encourage conversation.

Be prepared to offer specific solutions to their questions.

The trick is to draw them in without intimidating or overwhelming them. Remember the 80/20 rule: Listen 80%, talk 20%

10) Follow up promptly - Get them while they’re hot!

Send out email, regular mail, or make the phone calls to follow up on the contacts and leads you made during the expo as soon as possible. The faster you send them out, the more your business will stand out from the rest.

Expos can be incredible sources of contacts and customers for your business - be sure and make notes about them as you meet them so when you follow-up you can jog your memory.

So that’s it!  Follow these 10 tips for exhibiting success and watch your business soar. We hope you enjoy your expo experience and make the most of this day. Well see you soon!