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


Branding Your Company Before and After the Trade Show

Hello, My Name Is...

Here’s a simple way to show off your company to prospective customers and clients from the minute you walk out of your door until the minute you return.

Wear a branded shirt or coat. It may sound simple, but look at what it does: it puts your name in front of people in the cab or shuttle to the airport. It shows your name off to people in the airport and on the plane.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with traveling anonymously, and it may suit you best. But why not take the opportunity to not only show off your company name while traveling, but to show how cordial and engaging you can be? This may be a better fit if you’re a salesman or PR person who enjoys interacting with other people, but it can work for anyone.

Some companies I know have all of their tradeshow staff wear nice branded clothing, such as a long-sleeve button, collared shirt with an embroidered emblem, so everyone on the plane, bus or hotel knows who they’re with.

Top 10 Annoying Things Tradeshow Attendees Do

Licensed through Creative Commons: photo by Taylor Marie Photography
Licensed through Creative Commons: photo by Taylor Marie Photography

Thousands of people come to tradeshows. Most are pretty nice. Many are a joy to meet and greet and do business with.

Then there are the annoying ones. Worse than Uncle Marvin at a family reunion. Harder to put up with than sand in your beach barbecue.

So what are the most annoying behaviors at tradeshows? We scratched our collective heads – then asked some of our online friends. And we came up with the following obviously incomplete list.

10. The guest who won’t leave. Yeah, you’ve done all you can, answered all his questions, put up with his lame jokes and made it clear you need to talk with other visitors…but the guy is still standing there. Waiting for…something?

9. The visitor who tries to pick up dates with booth workers. ‘Nuff said.

8. (related to #9) Guys who hit on the ‘models’ in the booth. Okay, so the company decided to bring ‘booth babes’ to attract an audience. But it’s still a pretty eye-rolling thing to have guys try and pick ’em up.

7. When visitors bring their bratty kids to shows. Now, bringing youngsters to a tradeshow (as opposed to a consumer show) is a bit questionable…but when they’re in a horrible mood and bratty? Yeah, annoying.

6. When an attendee says “I’m just looking” when I approach them. Trade shows are NOT The Gap!

5. Petty annoyance, but how about people who just dart over to your booth to grab the “free stuff” and then vanish? (too typical, but still annoying)

4. Stand in your booth talking to each other but refuse to engage your booth staff! grrrrr…

3. When attendees don’t wear their badges or turn them around. Just let me know who you are and what I can do for you..

2. The ones who refuse to accept that a female booth personel could be the expert and keeps addressing the men in the booth.

1. “They don’t show up!”

Your own exhibiting experiences would give you a different list…but for today and today only, those are the top 10 annoying things tradeshow attendees do!

Thanks to all the Tweeps who participated, including @rbakctiff, @katiejcrose, @qualitylogo, @EmilieBarta, @leyla_a, @ckinney, @Asa_Dahlqvist and @ctstew.

Asking Qualifying Questions at Tradeshows

Tradeshows are a busy and distracting environment in which you’re trying to make sales and generate leads. By asking qualifying questions you can cut to the chase quickly.

Tradeshow consultant and author Mitch Tarr says it takes practice. For instance, you should come up with a pertinent question, such as “Do you own a small business nearby?” or “Do you have kids in elementary school?”

If you spend a moment to qualify and engage the person, you’ll quickly determine if they’re qualified prospects. Each show might require a different qualifying question. A regional home show would have different requirements than a national tradeshow.

Ensure that everyone on your staff is well-rehearsed and able to ask the question to qualify visitors. While this may seem simple, in practice it often is not. In the heat and bustle of a tradeshow, it’s easy for someone to forget what the question is – or forget to ask it consistently of the booth visitors.

Guerrilla Tradeshow Marketing: What Makes it Different?

Guerrilla Trade Show Selling

Jay Conrad Levinson, Mark S. A. Smith and Orvel Ray Wilson released “Guerrilla Trade Show Selling” in 1997. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Orvel; I’ve given copies of the book to clients and find it a treasure trove of usable ideas – many of which I’ve either recommended or used.

A dozen years later it still packs a wallop in terms of great ideas to implement in your ‘guerrilla’ tradeshow marketing efforts.

As an example, here are a few highlights of some of the ideas that make guerrilla marketing different:

  • Guerrillas rely on time, energy and imagination instead of mountains of cash.
  • Guerrilla marketing is based on psychology instead of guesswork.
  • For a guerrilla, profit is the only reasonable yardstick of success. Profitable marketing is good marketing. All other marketing is bad.
  • Guerrilla marketing is strictly geared to small business.
  • Guerrilla marketing removes the mystique from marketing.
  • Guerrilla marketing is based on cooperation instead of competition.
  • Guerrillas don’t go for the sale – they go for the relationship.
  • Guerrillas know that it takes a combination of advertising, direct mail, telemarketing and other practices. Combine more than one tool and they reinforce each other.
  • Guerrilla marketers use as many marketing weapons as possible – tradeshows are just one weapon in the arsenal.

The book is easy and fun to read – hey, you want a marketing book with attitude? This is it!

You’ll find ways to save money, generate traffic, decide which shows to attend or exhibit at and close more sales. Who wouldn’t want that?

Free Tradeshow ROI Webinar


Joyce MeKee at got together with Skip Cox of Exhibit Surveys recently for a webinar on the new ROI Toolkit created by Exhibit Surveys, IAEE, CEIR and PCMA. The ROI Toolkit was released by Exhibit Surveys in January of 2008 after years of development. The webinar is an effort to explain what it does, and how it can help with your tradeshow marketing – as well as show you exactly how the ROI toolkit works.

Check out the webinar here at

Take a look at the ROI Toolkit from Exhibit Surveys here.

Tradeshow Marketing Podcast: Karen Silvers interview

Karen Silvers

Need a promo item for your next tradeshow, but think it might be a waste of money because your guests will just throw it away? It doesn’t have to be that way. As in most marketing efforts, when you bring in the services of a professional your results usually improve dramatically.

Karen J. Silvers, a promotional products distributor with Lee Wayne Company, spent some time discussing promotional products marketing – and firmly believes there is no time when you should NOT be able to put together a promotion around giveaways.

Check our Karen’s website and find her on Twitter – @KarenJSilvers.

13 Tips for a Successful Trade Show

Guest Article by Emilie Barta

Tradeshow Marketing

So you have purchased your booth space, had your exhibit house design and build your exhibit, contracted all of your services, booked your airline flights and hotel rooms, hired your Professional Trade Show Presenter and other trade show talent, and chosen which of your employees are going to staff your booth. So now all you have to do is show up at the convention center…right? WRONG!!

The biggest reason that exhibitors have an unsuccessful show is because they just stand around and expect attendees to come to them. Trade shows have a lot going on in a condensed space, and you need to attract attendees to your booth. Here are some simple tips for a successful show:

  • A SMILE and a POSITIVE ATTITUDE are the best accessories you can put on in the morning!
  • Make sure to do PRE-SHOW MARKETING to drive attendees to your booth. The walk-bys are the icing on the cake.
  • You must give attendees a REASON to walk into your booth, otherwise they will just walk on by.
  • Make sure your PURPOSE for being at the trade show is crystal clear so that no attendee gets confused by your message.
  • You must WELCOME attendees into your booth and be a perfect “party host” once they are inside. It is all about the first impression!
  • Maintain your ENERGY LEVEL throughout the day, no matter how tired or hungry you are.
  • STAFF YOUR BOOTH with the employees who recognize the value of trade shows, shows up on time, will not wander away from the booth, knows the answers to the questions the attendees will ask, maintains a put-together appearance, and are not prone to losing business cards or information that will be needed back at the office.
  • Make sure that the staff of your booth has a UNIFORM APPEARANCE so that it is obvious to the attendees who works for your company and can answer their questions.
  • Don’t think that you can do it all, because you can’t. Make sure to OUTSOURCE functions to companies who represent your company image.
  • LISTEN to the attendees and give them exactly what they are looking for in the moment. Upselling can happen once the show is over and a relationship has been established.
  • Have a designated method for getting HOT LEADS to the appropriate sales person both on the show floor at back at the office. Never let an opportunity slip away due to disorganization.
  • Remember that you are REPRESENTING YOUR COMPANY from the minute you get to the airport in your home city to the minute you are in your car driving home. Many relationships have been started on airplanes or shuttles, in the cafeteria, or at dinner. And many more relationships have been destroyed during these same times.
  • And most importantly, HAVE FUN!!

Some of these tips may sound obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I approach a booth only to find one employee present, sitting with his/her back to the aisle, with a scowl on their face, hunched over their computer. These are the exhibitors that complain that they had an unsuccessful show and give trade shows a bad name.

Have a successful show!!

Presenter, Program Host, Narrator, Actress, Voiceover Artist


Using Music at Your Tradeshow Booth

Headphones...or speakers?

Have you ever been walking through a tradeshow only to be diverted by the onslaught of a loud steady hip-hop beat from a booth three rows away? It’s happened to me a few times.

Typically, if music at a booth is too loud, neighbors will complain and it won’t take long for the music volume level to drop to acceptable levels, whether voluntarily or through enforcement by show organizers.

So does all music at a show rub people the wrong way? And with thousands of exhibitors won’t low-volume music get lost in the hustle and bustle?

Perhaps, but there are ways music can be used effectively. At a recent show I was drawn to a faint but persistent reggae beat emanating from inside a small barn-like structure. Once inside I heard Bob Marley’s “Jammin'” and I was treated to a small art display that enhanced the exhibitor’s image in my mind. Of course, being a stone-cold reggae and Marley fan helped, too!

Across the floor I heard light new age music that was barely audible from ten feet away – but it sounded perfectly appropriate for the product on display.

In both cases the music was unobtrusive and supported the client’s image. If you’re going to consider music as a background for your tradeshow it should do both.

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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