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


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.


Podcast: Jeffrey Brown Interview

Jeffrey Brown of Tradeshow Blues

Jeffrey Brown of Tradeshow Blues discusses the re-launch of the tradeshow industry online ‘newspaper,’ as well as other properties including the Tradeshow Blues Wall, the CTE and others.

Show links:


Video: 6 Reasons to Attend Tradeshows

Earlier this year I gave a presentation to the Oregon Health Care Association on tradeshow marketing, and opened up with a short segment that included ‘6 Reasons to Attend Tradeshows’:


P.S. Oh, yeah, I’m available to address your group, too! Current topics include:

  • Twittering Your Way to Tradeshow Success
  • 7 Ways to Make Your Next Tradeshow a Success
  • How Graphics Can Bring People Into Your Booth
  • Staff Training: The Best Money You Can Spend

and others…all of which can be customized to your particular company or situation. If you’d like to find out more, just drop me a line or pick up the phone – I’m always happy to talk!


Podcast: Greening Your Exhibit with Tim Morris

Tim Morris of Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits  and Exhibit Design Consultants discusses his white paper “A More Sustainable Event Industry is Just Around the Corner”. Tim has spent several years looking to make the exhibit industry a more eco-friendly and greener industry.

Grab his free white paper here.


Exhibit Industry Online Resources

Industry News

Yeah, you could find most of these websites through Googling your little heart out, but why not let me do it for you?

Some of these sites I just came across, others I’ve used for years. All are focused on providing news, information and commentary on the exhibit and events industry. I’ve left out any corporate sites that pretend to be industry news but are rather blogs or sites that are pitching products.

So enjoy this collection of online magazines, newspapers, news sources and blogs. (If I missed a cool resource, add it in the comment section!)…

Center for Exhibition Industry Research
“Our goal is to promote the image, value and growth of exhibitions. This is accomplished through producing primary research studies that prove the effectiveness and efficiency of exhibitions as a marketing medium.”

Exhibition Services & Contractors Association (ESCA)
“…for firms engaged in providing services and materials for the meetings, exhibition and hospitality industry.”

International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE)

“…to represent the interests of tradeshow and exposition managers, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events™ is today the leading association for the global exhibition industry. Today IAEE™ represents over 8,500 individuals who conduct and support exhibitions around the world.”

Online Resources

Exhibitor Magazine Online
For tradeshow managers and exhibitors. Includes a buyer’s guide, exhibit tips and stories, resource directory and marketplace. Lots of stuff here for the exhibitor!
“The Ultimate Event Resource” including tradeshow lists, a job board, press releases and industry training links.

Tradeshow Week
“ is news and information about meetings, events, tradeshows and associations…”

Tradeshow Executive
“We aim to help show managers stimulate growth, profits and customer satisfaction so that their show, organization and the trade show industry can prosper.”

Exhibit City News
“Exhibit City News, the nation’s only tradeshow industry newspaper…”

Tradeshow Expo
“A newspaper and website for the trade show, convention, meetings and exhibits industries….”

Tradeshow Blues
Industry insider stuff from Jeffrey Brown. Tradeshow news with an attitude.

Exhibit Surveys
Providing research and metrics for the tradeshow industry.


Podcast: Whitney Mathews Interview

Whitney Mathews of Spiral16 shares how she used Twitter to meet people, create connections and more business by using Twitter at tradeshows.

Whitney was featured as one of our mini-case studies in “Twittering Your Way to Tradeshow Marketing Success”, the free e-book available here (opens new page so you can keep listening to the podcast!).

Here’s Whitney Mathews’ home page. Follow her on Twitter here.


One-to-One Marketing

A tradeshow is a unique selling environment. One where you can talk with literally hundreds of prospects over a few days – all one-to-one.

So what does it take to get the most out your personal interaction?

Keep these few tips in mind:

The visitor may or may not be ready to buy. Treat them as if they are on the verge of getting out their checkbook. Be personable and engaging and make sure you’ve answered all of their questions. They may not buy for a month or a year or more, but if they leave your booth feeling good about you chances are good they’ll be more willing to write a check in the future.

A visitor will probably only stop at your booth once during the show. Unless you have something they REALLY want, one stop is plenty for them. Don’t assume they’ll come back. So when they do stop, fully engage for the time they’re granting you.

If you’re tired, try not to show it. Yeah, we know you’ve been on your feet all day. But if you act bored and tired, your visitor will probably just keep going. Make a sincere effort to find out what’s important to your visitor. It may mean having a little fun at your own expense (making a joke about that yawn you just let out) so they see that while you’re tired, they really are important to you!


Exhibiting on the Cheap: Get More with Less

Please enjoy this guest column from Marlys Arnold

In these days of reduced budgets and sky-high travel costs, every company needs to make the most of their exhibiting dollars. Here are some tips to help you save without sacrificing value.

Show Services

  • Plan ahead! Reserve booth space and show services early to take advantage of discounts and avoid overtime rates at the facility.
  • Consolidate shipping. Charges are usually rounded to the next hundred pounds or CWT (one hundred weight). Bundle smaller things together to make one larger shipment. And be sure to ship far enough in advance to avoid paying any “rush” charges.
  • Take your own trash can, extension cords, and power strips with you instead of renting them at the show.


  • Use online tools to promote whenever possible to save on postage. With the tools available now, this goes far beyond basic e-mail! Try using YouTube, podcasts, a Facebook page, and more.
  • Use existing artwork on your booth graphics and promotions. Not only will it save money, but will also reinforce your company message.
  • If you feel giveaways are important, select something that can be used at multiple shows, perhaps for an entire season. You’ll save by taking advantage of larger quantity discounts as well as not having to throw out items after only one show. Better yet, consider giving away something from your own product line.


  • Scale back the number of staff to those who absolutely must attend, or use temporary staff in the host city for basic duties like greeting attendees or scanning badges.
  • Choose alternate airports (Midway vs. O’Hare, Love Field vs. Dallas-Ft.
  • Worth, etc.) to save both time and money.
  • Request that staffers room together. Let them have a say in who rooms with who.
  • Look for hotels that provide a free breakfast, WiFi service, and other amenities. This may not seem like a lot, but can really add up over an entire year of travel for your team.

© 2008 by Marlys K. Arnold (some tips reprinted from Build a Better Trade Show Image, © 2002)

Marlys K. Arnold, ImageSpecialist
Author of:
– Build a Better Trade Show Image
– Pack Your Bags!
… And host of the Trade Show Insights podcast

Find me on Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn!


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