Everyone wants to have an exhibit that attracts a crowd, but rather than being busy for the sake of being busy, imagine what would happen to your results if you spoke to more of the right people and less of the time wasters. This may sound a little idyllic, but it’s not mission impossible.

When we work with clients to their strategy right from the beginning, it flows into all facets of their exhibit programs… The design, the staff management of the booth and most certainly the results.

Some of the common complaints people have on trade show booths include:

  • Spending the whole time educating people rather than having conversations with real leads
  • Your stand is usually the busy one but you struggle to tell if it’s working well
  • You can’t justify results
  • Too many tyre kickers
  • People seem to just want freebies and giveaways

If you want talk to the right audience you need to put in a little work ahead of time to give yourself the best chance. Unfortunately, there’s no magic wand for this stuff but focusing on the following will help turn your exhibitions into a serious lead generation machine.


This alone, is one of the single biggest factors in gaining attention at a trade show. By speaking directly to your audience you quickly sort the boys from the men and when done right, you’ll find visitors pre-qualify themselves before wasting your time.

This billboard in Silicon Valley is one of my favourite examples of this. To most people it means nothing, but to those who read code, it says “Red Bull gives you wiiings”. Crazy clever. How can you alter your messaging to be more meaningful to your target market?

Red Bull gives you Wiiings


Everyone loves something for free, but ask yourself if this is actually adding value? If not, is there a way you can upgrade the experience so it does? Or would you be better using none at all? Depending on what else you have going on in your booth, sometimes it’s just overkill and in our experience, not always necessary.

Train your staff

Have you ever been stuck talking to someone that isn’t a potential customer, only to watch someone you actually want to talk to stroll right by your booth? Learn to qualify quickly and have a system to manage visitor interactions. Do you have enough staff? The right staff? Are they managing leads correctly and working as a team? The quality of your conversations at a show will be a direct reflection on your success. It’s 100% worth thinking about.


Is your stand layout discouraging people from walking onto your exhibit? Do you have any barriers to entry? Is it too bright? Too noisy? And, speaking freely here… Is it a bit vanilla? We see some pretty average looking trade show stands at exhibitions. We may be taught not to judge a book by it’s cover, but that is exactly what we do in an effort to be efficient and not waste time on something that isn’t of interest.

Set the expectation

Use pre-show marketing to drive behaviours. Get creative with this! It doesn’t mean you have to ask for orders, I know a lot of our clients have long lead times for their products, but they still create the expectation that their customers need to see them at a show. You want people to seek you out to learn/play/be entertained /discover/win… you get the idea. Offer then something they can’t get anywhere else. Make it enticing and then promote the hell out of it!

At the end of the day, 83% of people who attend a show can influence the buying decision. Even if the show is a flop, forget what’s happening around you and focus on what you can do to make the most of what you’ve got.

We’ve had clients at shows that didn’t get a great turnout in terms of crowd numbers and while their neighbours spent their time complaining about the organiser they still end up having a brilliant show because they had a solid game plan. They aren’t lucky. They planned.

It’s easy to buy into what else is happening around you, but I challenge you to make a real go of it. You’ve invested the money in going anyway. Why not humour me and let me know how you go?