Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.
Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.

March 2016

Ultimate Guide to Tradeshow Booth Staff Training

The following is a guest post by Tifany Scifo of Reveal Marketing Group.

Trade shows provide the perfect forum to expand your business – whether you run a multi-million dollar enterprise or a humble family business, a successful trade show can be a veritable boon to your company’s bottom line. Unfortunately, the opposite is equally true – a disastrous showing can not only give potential investors and clients the wrong idea about your company, it can have a lasting negative impact on your firm’s reputation and cling to your company like a stubborn, fetid odor.

With so much on the line, it only makes sense that you exercise due diligence and prepare your contingent of representatives before you even leave for the convention; to make absolutely certain everyone is ready to bring their “A” game – and ready to “wow” anyone who happens to saunter up to your booth.

Trade Shows: An Eye Witness Account

Last year while writing for the automotive industry, I was fortunate enough to be assigned to cover the SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) event in Las Vegas. For those unfamiliar with this particular event, it is the biggest automotive event of the year – filling the expansive Las Vegas Convention Center with thousands of custom vehicles and aftermarket vendors as far as the eye can see. Big or small, each vendor had the same goal – to develop a list of qualified leads that could then be turned into a mutually beneficial business relationship.

As I walked from hall to hall, it became startlingly clear which companies were making the most out of the opportunity. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the companies with the flashiest digital displays or the ones that employed a gaggle of vapid booth babes armed with coy smiles. As I listened in on the interaction between vendor and potential client, it occurred to me that the ones that would emerge victoriously from SEMA were the ones that came prepared – lock, stock and barrel.

How to Get Your Staff Ready for “The Show”

Whether it’s your first show or tenth, there’s always an opportunity to tweak your approach to trade shows. Remember that if a strategy worked one year, it may not the next, so be sure to revisit your plan of attack and set reasonable goals. As for the staff that will be accompanying you, there are a few things they should know:

The Marketing Strategy. It’s important your staff knows exactly what is expected of them in terms of sales goals, but be sure to take the time to expand a little further on the topic of “goals”. Give your staff some idea of the impact a successful trade show can have on the company, and take the time convey to them any key messages you’d like potential clients to walk away with.

Your Products. Regardless as to whether or not you’ve decided to feature a single product or an entire product line, you need to invest some time reviewing them with your staff. Remind them that they will be the point of contact for a lot of new potential clients that may be unfamiliar with your company, and their product knowledge must be on


point. Take a features and benefits approach.

Sales Floor Selling. If your staff is used to engaging clients one on one (or on the phone), remind them that selling at a trade show is a very different beast. Instruct them that they will likely be vying for a client’s attention (quite possibly within eye or earshot of a direct competitor) and that things like professional attitude, positive body language, and eye contact are all valuable tools in engaging a client. Also, take a few minutes to review some of the questions they are likely to encounter while speaking to potential leads, and ways they can answer them earnestly and intelligently.

The Layout. While this point could certainly mean, “be sure your staff knows where the washrooms are located”, in this instance it means “know the layout of the booth”. Be sure that before the doors open that each member of your team knows where the overstock promotional items, company literature, and anything else they may need to close a sale are kept. There is nothing quite like a confused and disorganized staffer to chase away a sale.

Additionally, it would be good for your staff to know where the center’s private meeting rooms are located, should the need arise to take a client somewhere quiet to seal the deal.

Consider Hiring a Trade Show Coach

If you’re not exactly enthused at the idea of having to get your staff ready for the show, or if you simply don’t have the time, you can certainly benefit from hiring a coach. Professional trade show coaches like Susan Friedmann have carved out a niche for themselves helping companies get the most out of trade shows.

Coaches have seen what works and more importantly, what doesn’t – and have a commendable grasp on what needs to be done prior to, during, and after a show to ensure that your trade show is as profitable as it can be.

Tifany Scifo is the Creative Marketing Manager at Reveal Marketing Group Inc. She specializes in Web Design & Development, Creative Design & Direction and Tradeshows. She enjoys sharing her thoughts through blogging and social media.

Click Here to Get Your Digital Copy of My New Book

How Little Richard Can Improve Your Tradeshow Marketing

I’ve been sitting here (and moving around a lot, actually) listening to Little Richard, and realized that a steady diet of Little Richard can help you with your tradeshow marketing. How, you say?

Let me count the ways.

  • Energy! Little Richard has more energy in a two-minute recording than virtually any other recording artist. You need energy for tradeshow marketing. Little Richard gives it to you.
  • Ready Teddy! Preparation is at the heart and soul of tradeshow excellence. Are you ready?
  • Rip it Up! Gonna rock it up, gonna rip it up, gonna shake it up. Try something different and put your heart and soul into it.
  • Jenny Jenny! Do you remember people’s names? Read their name tag, shake a hand, and say their name. It’s a great way to remember it.
  • I Got It! Take responsibility. When you see something that needs attending to – more samples, carpet sweeping, taking out the trash, greeting a visitor – simply say (and do it): I Got It!
  • Keep a Knockin’! When a visitor comes to your booth, have your questions ready. If they don’t unveil their problems or pain associated with the solution your product or service can provide, keep un-peeling the onion, as it were. Keep asking questions – keep a knockin’!
  • Kansas City / Hey-hey-hey-hey! So you’re a travelin’ guy or gal. That means many stops throughout the country (or internationally) to grab more leads and raise your brand awareness. It might mean a stop in Kansas City!

Now that you’ve picked up some tips from one of the greats, let’s take a moment and listen and watch, shall we?

Click Here to Get Your Digital Copy of My New Book

Webinar: 27 Rules of Tradeshow Marketing

webinar keyboard

How many rules of tradeshow marketing are there really? Who knows? Pick a number!

In 2009 I wrote an e-book called “101 Rules of Tradeshow Marketing” which eventually was downloaded 5,000 or so times. A couple of years ago I revised it and put it back out there in the cloud for free.

As we’re doing a webinar-a-month this year, I wanted to revisit the concept of ‘rules of tradeshow marketing’ but didn’t feel that I could do 101 rules justice in a 45-minute webinar. Hence, the somewhat random choice of just 27 rules.

In any event, you should join us for the webinar. It’s coming up April 19th, 2016 at 9 am Pacific / 10 am Mountain / 11 am Central and noon Eastern. Sign up as usual at

And yes, at the end I’ll make sure you get your own copy of the e-book that started it all: 101 Rules of Tradeshow Marketing.

NorthWest FoodService Show [photos]


I had a chance to attend the 2016 NorthWest FoodService show in Seattle this past weekend and jumped at it. Hey, it’s a good reason to drive almost four hours one direction on a busy, rainy I-5! NWFS a regional two-day show that is aimed at the restaurant profession and is loaded with exhibitors from the food production industry (think fish and fowl, fruits and veggies and more), software support services, linen, utilities, bakery equipment and so much more. With perhaps a couple of hundred exhibitors and a few thousand attendees, it’s a much smaller show than Natural Products Expo West, although there are some companies that exhibit at both.

It’s interesting to see, as at any show, the wide range of tradeshow exhibits on display. Some companies go all out with large island exhibits (at least a few), while most are of the smaller inline variety. Some exhibitors came with a serious exhibiting attitude and others seemed like they showed up because there wasn’t a game on. Not to disparage them, but it really showed in the lack of attention to details, or even to the broad strokes of putting up a respectable exhibit.

Take a look at this photo collection and you’ll see the type of booths that were on display at the Washington Convention Center this past weekend.


Expo West 2016: Notes from the Swirl

Natural Products Expo West 2016 is in the books. I’m sure they’re still counting the numbers, but I have no doubt the final tally of visitors and exhibitors will top last year’s 71,000 (update: final numbers: 77,000+ attendees, over 3,000 exhibits, 600+ of which were new this year). It’s my 13th time I’ve walked the floor and worked with client exhibitors, and have always enjoyed it. It’s a grueling and weary four days, but well worth the time.


Some notes and thoughts…

At first blush, it appears that hundreds of exhibitors really stepped up their game. New booths, refreshed and repurposed older booths and new looks were the common themes that run throughout. Having said that, there were still a lot of exhibitors that seriously looked like they didn’t really know what to expect. I did talk to dozens of exhibits (maybe a hundred or more), and many are looking to upgrade for next year’s go-round, simply to compete with their neighbors down the aisle.

Last year I lost count of the time I saw the word ‘natural’ used in graphics. This year, not so much. I did however, see the term ‘superfoods’ used extensively.

Things are always in flux. I talked to several company reps who are facing personal changes because the company they work for has been or is being acquired by a larger entity. This means that while doors close, others open; new opportunities abound because there are always changes afoot in the industry. And even with 70,000+ visitors and exhibitors, it seems like a small industry (which I’m not even a part of, except peripherally!). Many people change companies but still land at this industry show each year.

Big is in – always. While there are hundreds of smaller exhibitors that are in the aisles with 10×10 or 10×20 in-line booths, the convention center is packed with large island booths, 20×20, 30×30, 40×40, 40×70 and more. I know the space is not cheap, so the investments made in marketing at this show are substantial. I spoke briefly with Bob Moore, the iconic “Bob” of Bob’s Red Mill, and he reiterated what he’s said many times before: exhibiting at Expo West year after year has helped the company expand and grow and reach new markets they couldn’t have otherwise reached. Without a doubt, many companies increase the size of their booth simply to show competitors that they’re in charge.

Exhibit construction: while I saw numerous fabric graphics and hanging pillowcase signs, there were hundreds of exhibits that featured solid wooden panels in their construction. At least six companies brought in vehicles (trailers, cars) as part of their exhibit. I saw one table made from a surfboard, a photobooth, one stuffed bear sitting on a toilet, and one iconic dread-deaded lion drinking coffee. There were loads of large graphics that caught your attention from several aisle away.

Social media: always lots of action on Twitter and Instagram. A handful of exhibitors pushed contests from their booth to tag them or tweet or ‘gram them from the show floor for a chance to win. A few years ago, that was a big deal, now it’s just part of the game – some are involved and some are not. Nobody seems to make a big deal about it, but social media engagement and contests are there, just not ubiquitous.

As always, Natural Products Expo West is a big deal – the biggest show of the year for the industry. Always great to be a part!

Check out the photo gallery!

Click Here to Get Your Digital Copy of My New Book

11 Reasons to Exhibit at Tradeshows

  1. Your company can reach markets that they would not normally reach. A tradeshow gets you in front of people that will never find you otherwise.
  2. Decision makers attend shows. This means that if they see what they like, they can, y’know, decide!
  3. Networking with colleagues. Meet future partners, employees or employers.
  4. P1140105

    Checking out the competition’s latest and greatest to see how it compares to your offerings.

  5. Great place to launch a new product or service.
  6. Build or re-position your brand.
  7. Reach out to the media with public relations and give access to your management team.
  8. Do a survey – market research.
  9. Generate leads, make sales and move the sales cycle along a little more quickly than normal.
  10. Meet with key clients.
  11. Increase your ROI by getting directly in front of thousands of potential customers in a very short time frame.

SoYoung wins ExhibitorLIVE’s Best 10×10 Portable Modular Exhibit Award


At this year’s ExhibitorLIVE conference and tradeshow in Las Vegas, the annual Portable/Modular Design award were handed out. Here at TradeshowGuy Exhibits (formerly) Communication One Exhibits, we snared a design award for last summer’s SoYoung 10×10 portable booth.

Keep in mind, this was not the popularity contest where everyone got to vote on their favorite design. No, this was the juried design award.

The goal of the competition was to “recognize the vendors and designers responsible for these remarkable exhibits, while also spotlight what’s possible in this realm.” It was the third annual version of this competition. While it appears that all of the awards have yet to be posted online, you’re welcome to review winners of the first and second years.

When we were contacted by SoYoung last summer, owner Catherine Choi indicated that they were looking to upgrade their current booth, which was a bit of a mishmash of hanging shelves and display units which didn’t work as well as they liked. Working with Classic Exhibits and designer Katina Rigall, we created an attractive and functional booth with a large backlit graphic, product display shelves and a unique aluminum CNC-cut display tree (which is what we think knocked it out of the park and got the judges’ attention).

The booth made its debut at Expo East last fall in Baltimore and will continue its work at Expo West in Anaheim this winter and beyond.

Exhibitor Magazine made the announcement of all of the award winners on March 1st, starting with the SoYoung booth. Many thanks to Classic Exhibits and Katina for creating a beautiful, creative and functional design, and of course to SoYoung for reaching out to us for the project.

Check out our gallery of the SoYoung booth here.



Booth Staff Body Language Primer

Have you ever walked by a tradeshow booth and felt somewhat put off by the vibe you were getting? So much so that you just kept on walking?

That’s not a surprise. The way that people stand, move and hold their body communicates a great deal. We don’t need to hear words to get a very plain message, and often that message is “we’re not really interested in talking to you right now.”

While you can spend a few minutes Googling body language and get a ton of great information, let’s stick to specifics for a booth staffer in a busy tradeshow.

Arms crossed: indicates a defensive position. People will see you as someone who is really not all that interested in talking with you right now.

Sitting on a chair: tired and non-energetic. Therefore it will be seen as not ready to engage.


On the phone: whether you’re talking or just checking out Twitter, Facebook or whatever, this also shows the visitor that they are less important than that stupid cat video (at least that’s what they think if they bother to think).

Holding a clipboard: can often be seen as someone who is on a mission to fill out the form, and will pounce at the first moment. Visitors often avoid this person.

Eating: Ugh.

No eye contact: again showing a visitor that you’re not important. It also shows shyness or desire to avoid interaction.

Direct eye contact and a smile: a positive sign that most visitors will interpret as a willingness to engage.

Hands down at side: another good positive open body position which tells a visitor that you’re ready to have a conversation.

Clenched fist: seen as a negative or aggressive stance.

A visitor can make a snap judgment in just a few seconds while standing 10 or 15 feet away. They will often make a decision on visiting your booth based entirely on the body language that your staff is using. Learn to read body language, and learn to use it positively to communicate an upbeat, welcoming message to your visitors.


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