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Top 10 Tips for Successful Exhibiting

By Candy Adams, The Booth Mom®

As a trade show exhibit junkie with a 25-year addiction, I’ve been asked to share my best advice to maximize exhibitors’ show results. Here are 10 simple – but effective – tips every exhibitor can use.

1. Know your audience and focus your exhibit on their needs.

Take the time to identify your perfect prospect for your product or service at each show. Select the most appropriate solutions to present in your exhibit to your target audience. Keep those solutions top-of-mind when creating your exhibit’s messaging, focusing on your products’ benefits and how they’ll solve attendees’ problems.

2. Identify and prioritize the top three reasons why you’re exhibiting.

You may be exhibiting to:

Gather qualified sales leads

Promote new products

Enhance your corporate brand

Educate your audience

Cement existing client relationships

Conduct business meetings

Obtain press/media coverage

Recruit distributors/dealers/representatives/employees

Perform competitive/market research

Attend educational sessions

Focus on these reasons when making your strategic and spending decisions. Ask yourself, “Will doing this help me reach my goals?”

3. Set strategic, measurable show goals.

Establish realistic goals based on your target market as a percentage of anticipated show attendance, the number of exhibiting hours, exhibit size, staffing and budget. Predetermine how you will measure success when the show’s over.

4. Identify the products or services you’ll showcase.

“New” is the most powerful word on the show floor. New products are attendee magnets! If you have a large product line, display only a pertinent sample. Trade show attendees want to interactively experience your product or service in your exhibit, not just walk through or past it.

5. Design an attractive, functional, uncluttered exhibit.

Keep your exhibit open and inviting. Don’t block more than 20% of the aisle with counters, walls or surplus exhibit staff. Use color, light and movement to attract attendees. Then keep them in your booth using engaging presentations, hands-on demos, “info-tainment” and a professional staff.

6. Use high-impact graphics focusing on your prospects’ needs.

Plan your graphics as large, colorful visual speed bumps to attract attendees’ attention and communicate your message. Effective graphics create an interest in your product or service by telling potential prospects what your product can do for them in about 3-1/2 seconds, the time it takes to walk past a 10’ x 10’ booth.

7. Promotion – Pre-Show, At-Show, Post-Show

Be proactive in inviting your most-wanted list of qualified attendees to stop by. Industry studies have shown that an exhibitor can double the number of qualified leads at a show with effective pre-show and at-show promotional campaigns.

8. Prepare your exhibit staff for “show business.”

Trade shows are a different model of sales opportunity with unique challenges. Just like you wouldn’t send an actor on stage without a script, a rehearsal with other actors and props, don’t expect your exhibit staff to perform unprepared in your exhibit. Double your qualified leads by allocating a few percent of your overall budget for professional exhibit staff training.

9. Record all critical follow-up information on a lead form.

Plan ahead with whomever will follow up on your show leads to decide what relevant information they will need, including contact info, product interest, current supplier, reason for changing vendors, role in the purchasing process, timeframe to buy and requested follow-up.

10. Provide promised follow-up within 48 hours of show close (if not sooner).

Industry statistics say that no follow-up is done on 80% of show leads! Prepare your post-show follow-up process before you leave for the show. Stand out by contacting your prospects by the agreed-to method – and no later than a week after show close.

Candy Adams is a veteran independent exhibit project manager, hands-on consultant, exhibit staff trainer, industry speaker, and columnist/faculty member for EXHIBITOR’s magazine and conferences. Contact her at For more information, visit

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