How to Attract Interest at Trade Shows

Question: I'm about to unveil my new business idea at a trade show. How can I get peoples attention and attract them to my booth?

Question by: Collin

Tell a Story with Your Visuals

"Use your visual marketing tools - the stand, the brochures, the flyers and even what you wear - to tell the story behind your idea rather than focus purely on the idea itself. Everybody loves to hear a story so focus on your booth as the place to tell this story rather than purely sell your idea and you'll likely stand out from the crowd. "

Don't Rush It!

"With trade shows you're lucky if you get 30 seconds which will ultimately lead to a sale. Use different visuals (no toys, yoyos or pens) to attract people and multi-media works well if you have a screen that people can look at quickly. Once they're in the booth, interact with them as genuinely as possible to get their info. Never try to close on the first conversation!"

- Ishita Gupta | Founder, Publisher, Fear.less Magazine
Create a Reason for Engagement

"Whether it's a game or a contest, promote something that bring people to your booth in excitement. The more creative and interesting the idea is, the more conversations you will have, relationships you will build, and success you will see from your presence at the event. "

- Logan Lenz | Founder / President, Endagon

#LiveTwitterStreams

"Social Media is all the rage right now, and one of the best ways to get peoples attention at trade shows is to put up a live Twitter stream and create your own hash tag. You can display it on your iPad or a flat screen.This will definitely draw crowds. Maybe even do a giveaway for a free iPad if people drop their business cards in a bowl for your marketing list also! "

- Kris Ruby | President, Ruby Media Group

Presell Your Product

"Prior to laying down the carpet and putting up your booth, research some potential clients and ask them to stop by. People travel in groups at conventions and if your potential client does in fact come by, they often times will bring their friend(s). "

- Sean Devlin | Co-founder / Dir Prod Dev, Front Rush

Show Your Stars

"If you have a bit of credibility behind you or your business, show that loud and proud first, this way, people can know your business idea is one worth hearing if you were a successful entrepreneur in a past life, or if through extensive research, your business idea is guaranteed to succeed."

- Danny Wong | Co-Founder, Advisor and Lead Evangelist, Blank Label
Create Show Buzz

"As a NEWBIE to the show, work with the show manager to take advantage of attendee lists and onsite exposure. Talk to trade publications who will be at the show as well, try to get something in their "show" edition. It may cost you a few more marketing dollars than you had planned initially but if you can close business at the show it'll be worth it."

- Jerry Piscitelli | Owner / Inventor, Portopong LLC

Free Autographed Books

"Buy a book related to your industry in bulk, and have the author there to sign copies. People will flock to your booth, and tell others about it. Ask for a name and email in exchange for a signed copy. While people wait in line, take the time to talk with them. Don't make it your mission to sell. Make it your mission to have them take the first step -giving you permission to contact them later."


Invite! Engage! Plan Ahead!

"Advertise to your clients, leads, suppliers and contacts to attend the show. Plan what the booth would be like, material would you be giving away, how many should be at your booth to field the visitors, how would you collect their info to make sure they come back after the trade show. All of this needs to be planned ahead to ensure a successful participation."


Launch a Press Blitz

"Create media frenzy by executing a press blitz that includes introductions to local media, targeted press release distribution and a media alert prior to attending the show. Develop a contest or giveaway to generate interest and offer the media an incentive for stopping by your booth. Look for ways to expand reach beyond your booth and get people talking prior to your arrival."

- Erica Nicole | Founder and CEO, YFS Magzine
Make Your Trade Show Presence Customer Friendly

"Set up your booth with the customer in mind. No table should be between you and the customer--it's a barrier! No cell phones in the booth or chatting with your colleague when customers are walking past--it shows you are not interested in engaging! No reading badges--you are there to CONNECT! Get out in front of your booth and invite people to learn about your product by asking them questions!"

Choose your colors and images wisely

" A properly placed image, colors and call to action can create head turning behavior from your audience which is exactly what you want. Don't skimp on making your image "larger than life" as it will carry you through the times and will keep the attention on your brand. "

Forget the Booth Altogether!

"At any tradeshow, it is vital that you go to them, not wait for them to come to your booth. More effective than paying several thousand dollars and waiting for people to come, is walking around the tradeshow with your business cards and smile. Talk to people, make your rounds and collect cards. I guarantee this strategy will be more successful and much more cost effective than booth-ing."

- Zach Cutler | Founder and CEO, Cutler Group

Be Genuine Instead of Sales-y

"No one likes an aggressive salesman. Instead, really connect and engage with the folks who stop by your display. Determine their pain points and decide how you can help them resolve those issues."

- Heather Huhman | Founder & President, Come Recommended

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