Trade show checklist: Dos and Don’ts

Trade shows. Love them or hate them, they’re a necessary addition to many great marketing campaigns. They offer an opportunity for you to showcase your products, talk face-to-face with prospects and customers, and bring your brand to life. To help you make the most of your trade show experience, here are a few tips from us to keep in mind for future success!

Trade show preparation: Dos

Be clear about your goals:

Know why you are attending and what you hope to achieve? Define your ideal outcome. Are you looking to find new customers and start the relationship-building process or concentrate on making actual sales? Take the opportunity to scope out the competition, build brand awareness, or underscore your market leadership? Once you’ve laid out your objectives for the show, you can start to plan accordingly.

Location, Location, Location:

Choose the right spot! Where your booth is located in the exhibit hall has a lot to do with the kind of footfall traffic you’ll get. Sign up to the show early, to get the pick of the best spots. Research shows that a placement at the front of the hall, or around the perimeter is best.

Engage and be active:

Think about the costs associated with sending you to that trade show, and make every minute count. Get to the edges of your booth, facing the aisles, and look out for approaching prospects.

Remember, it’s all about being approachable. Putting something like, “ask me a question” on your name badge can also go a long way.

Refer to booth visitors by name if possible:

When with a prospect, quickly introduce yourself and refer to them by name if they’re wearing a name tag. If not, get their name before moving into your conversation. This establishes a connection and makes your conversation more memorable. There’s no sweeter sound to their ears than the sound of their own name.

Ask specific qualifying questions:

You want to try to understand what the prospects goals are, figure out who the decision-maker is in their company, find out more about their time frame, etc. Note down what they tell you so that you can jog their memory when you follow up after the show.

Have some kind of giveaway:

If you want to attract people; have a hook. Think about something you can give to prospects that tells the story about your brand and is memorable. Traditional giveaways include bags, pens, mugs but the options are endless.

Collect as many contacts as you can:

Don’t be shy about asking for business cards. Many trade shows now use a name badge scanning system that automatically collates the data for you.

Take print materials to support your objective:

You may be planning on preparing some trade show specific brochures, flyers, or booklets to hand out. Make sure that whatever you plan to give out is high-impact.

Trade show preparation: Don’ts

Start a conversation without finding out who you’re talking to:

Always find out a person’s name, role in their company, and reason for being at the show before you launch into a conversation. Not only will this help you cater to their needs better, it will also prevent you from revealing too much about your business to someone who might actually be with the competition.

Forget to watch your body language:

Body language is such an important element to how you interact with prospects and customers at trade shows. You want to approach trade show attendees and be as open and inviting as you can. Don’t cross your arms or look away while the prospect is talking. Don’t spend your time clustered with the rest of your sales team, which sends the message that you’re not available to talk.

Bad mouth the competition:

Doing this is off-putting and unprofessional. By spending time trying to convince a prospect of your competitors’ inferiority, you’re actually projecting insecurity on your part. Talk about your own products and why they’re great, not the competition.

Use inside specific lingo or terminology that prospects may not understand:

If within your company, you tend to use certain words, acronyms, or other jargon to describe your products that trade show attendees might not know of, don’t use them. It will just confuse or alienate them.

Eat, drink, or do anything in the booth that could be construed as unprofessional:

Take your mealtimes in shifts with fellow booth staff. Eating a sandwich or drinking a soda in your booth looks decidedly unprofessional, and will prevent people from coming over.

Come to the show without a plan to follow up with leads later:

Avoid letting your post-show game plan become disorganised and disjointed. Have your plan in mind from the beginning of the show, so you know what kind of contact information you need to gather, what talking points you’d like to remind prospects of later and have materials ready to send post show.


Have you got a trade show coming up?
We can help you with…

  • Print materials
  • Stands and banners (inc. design, build & delivery)
  • Promotional goodies


Order your FREE Exhibition catalogue here.

Give us a call today to talk to one of our expert sales team and find out more!

01376 318666 | |

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