Tradeshow and Exhibit Thoughtleaders
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John F. Kennedy

Trace Cohen's Articles

10 Tips on How to be the Best Exhibitor at a Tradeshow for Attendees and Media


I just returned from a major tradeshow last week and while it was amazing, there were a number of things that jumped out and bothered me.

As an exhibitor at a show, you’re paying top dollar for a booth, marketing collateral materials, props and handouts, and travel and hotel accommodations for your staff to attend the show, so WHY are you not making the most of it!

The most glaring email and booth mistakes were the following, along with a few tips I’ve learned over the years:

1. No booth number – marco… polo…

As part of the media, I received hundreds of emails asking me to stop by a booth, and so many of them never put their booth number! That’s like telling me to call you without giving your phone number. 

TIP:  Make sure to add your booth number when communicating your information to be easily found at the show, so I don’t have to search for it.

2. Poorly formatted emails and typos- I cnduo’t bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg

I can’t tell you how many emails I received that had broken text, spacing errors, not easy to read, or just poor grammar.

TIP: Just send over a few bulleted sentences highlighting what your company does and your role with the company.

3. Link to news on your site – make sure it can be found

This is just a personal pet peeve, as I want you to get as much SEO as possible and drive traffic to your site. Having your content live in email limbo doesn’t help anyone searching for your news.

 TIP: Publish your company news on your site or better yet, if a show offers a branded digital news platform this would be the best way to be found, discovered and shared with attendees and media.

4. Completely image based emails that Gmail won’t display it right away –would you like to display this image?

This is only a recent problem that Gmail started to implement about a year ago, however, it has caused a number of issues lately. It’s just one more button to push.

TIP: Keep your emails as text and some images or have a link to the news elsewhere.

5. Even after your email, I have no idea what you do – have we met?

I really did read through every email that was sent to me, and while some were great and to the point, others just left me confused.

TIP: Make sure your email is clear, describes who you are, what you do, and what you want from your reader. Keep it Simple Stupid (KISS)

6. Too much writing – TL;DR (Too Long Didn’t Read)

It’s really depressing to open any email and see so much text and paragraphs that you need to scroll down to finish it.

TIP: As I mentioned before, keep it short, sweet and to the point. It will save you, and everyone else time, and possibly a faster response to your email.

7. Make sure someone knowledgeable is at your booth – “so what do you do?”

When I come by your booth, it’s because I’m interested in what product or service your company offers. It is expected that the person at your booth represents your company and knows why they are there.

TIP: Train your team or whom ever you hire to know your company well enough to answer the easy questions so that I don’t have to read your handouts or check out your site later.

8. Dear sir/madam/journalist – really?

I only received a few of these, but they really stand out as just being weird. I understand that you want to be polite and formal, however, it just screams that you just sent out a blast email, which I already assumed.

TIP: Just use my name or a “Hi/Hello” works too.

9. Ugly links vs Bitly

Generally, people don’t like to click on links for websites they have never heard of before, especially with the recent security breaches.

TIP: Use a bitly link or another shorter link so you can customize it, and track how many people clicked on it.

10. Images so wide it breaks the reading area – size does matter

I received a handful of images that forced me to scroll horizontally in order to read the email or view the image.

TIP: Be certain you have an attractive layout with images and text aligned properly.

11. BONUS: Smile and engage – exhibiting is like speed dating so act like you’re interested

I can’t recall how many times I’ve walked by a booth to see someone just sitting there, looking unhappy like they don’t want to be there. This is your opportunity to talk with your customers face-to-face, which is an amazing opportunity to learn about what they like, don’t like and expect.

TIP: Smile, look excited and talk to people that walk by. Most people are not sure what they are looking for, so make sure to engage them. Not everyone will be interested in what you have to offer, so don’t get discouraged and keep trying!

Trade shows, events and conferences are truly a business phenomenon as it’s a single location that everyone in your industry attends with the mentality of doing business or learning something new.  It is up to you to make sure that you take full advantage of this opportunity both physically at your booth and digitally through email, social networks and mobile apps. Make sure that you, your company and your information can be found, shared and discovered so that you can garner more leads and hopefully increase sales.

© 2014 by Trace Cohen