Go Big or Go Home!

If you’re planning to go “big” at your next trade show, then be sure that you’re consistent about it.

At a show I attended recently, I noticed some exhibitor inconsistencies. There was one company with a high profile in the industry who was one of the show’s sponsors, yet only had a 10×10′ space. While that alone was surprising, what was more curious was the way the staff treated attendees. There was no greeting, and when an attendee expressed interest in the product, only a short and aloof answer was given. No offer to demonstrate the product, no questions about what the attendee wanted, nothing. Needless to say, attendees weren’t lingering at that booth.

Another problem was in the international area, where rows of exhibits featured exhibitors parked in chairs behind their tables along the aisles. I’m sure they wondered why all the Americans buzzed right past them without so much as a glance. Sure, there are potential language barriers, but there are ways to overcome them. First, make sure that you have at least a few staffers who can speak the language of the attendees. For those staffers who can’t, team them up with the spokespeople or let them serve as product demonstrators. At the very least, they need to stand up and get out in front of the tables — the same as all other staffers.

And finally, there were exhibitors who wasted their opportunity on the special feature stage. If you’re in a show that offers such a platform, plug your participation using every possible method of promotion: pre-show mailers, e-blasts, posters in your booth, and more. Don’t count on attendees simply discovering it in the program guide. It’s sad to see a space set for 60-80 people have only seven or eight in the audience.

There are a lot of ways to make a big impression at trade shows. You don’t have to be a major sponsor or have the biggest booth. Just make sure that whatever methods you’re using to promote your products or services reflect how “big” you are. If not, you might as well stay home.


© 2010-12 Marlys K. Arnold  (Reprinted from the June 2010 TradeShowTips Online. To receive tips like this in your inbox every month, please take a moment to fill out this request.)

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About the Author:

With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. She travels the country consulting and training both exhibitors and show managers, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image (2002), host of the Trade Show Insights podcast and creator of the ExhibitorEd training kit. She can be reached at www.imagespecialist.com.

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With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. Exhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community.

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