Guest post by Shonna Jordan

There are many excuses as to why businesses negate the proven viability of exhibit marketing as part of their marketing mix: We don’t sell a product; We don’t have enough stuff display; We’ve tried it and it doesn’t work for us.

In working with clients over the years to develop and hone their exhibit strategy, I have some statistics of my own:

  • Exhibit marketing is the #2 way businesses generate new leads. Second only to direct referrals.
  • You will engage and interact with up to 5x more people at a show when you have a table top than you will by just attending.

And other studies report that:

  • 4 out of 5 attendees walking the aisles at every trade show have buying authority and thus are potential customers for exhibitors.

So why the excuses? Either because they have the wrong mindset and/or went about the strategy the wrong way.

Remember why you are there.

First and foremost, to implement exhibit marketing exhibit marketingto your best benefit, you need the right mindset. You need to remember your purpose for being there… Relationship building, credibility in your business community and LEAD GENERATION. Yes, if you have a product to sell, people may buy directly right then and there. If you offer a service, yes, attendees may book appointments or engage your services right then and there. BUT you cannot assess the success of your efforts ONLY by immediate revenue generated. The LEAD is the important thing – a potential client with whom you have already interacted and can now follow up.

You do not have to have a product to sell to generate leads for your business. MANY service-based businesses successfully utilize exhibit marketing and reap the rewards of their marketing efforts.

Engagement and interactivity are key.

Sure, having products to display is a great “attention grabber” at a show/event, but you don’t need products to have a display that works for you. You simply need interactivity. A quick survey, an opinion poll, a nice bannerstand, giveaways, etc. And most importantly, a great conversation starter. Ask a question. Or make a request. “Hi, how are you” is great for social engagements, but it’s not going to get you the desired result at a trade show or expo. Engage with the attendees, get their information and follow up after the show.

Avoid common exhibit marketing mistakes.

Sitting behind your booth and waving at passersby is NOT a good strategy. Getting into long, drawn-out conversations is a tradeshow no-no. Expecting people you don’t know to actually stop at your booth of their own volition is an inappropriate expectation.

exhibit marketingKnow where to stand for best opportunity to interact.
Most shows will put two chairs behind the table or in the booth space. First of all, do NOT sit behind your table. And secondly, do not STAND behind your table. Being behind your table puts a barrier between you and the attendees. Stand in FRONT of your table to make it easier to engage.

Have someone in the booth at all times.
This is a tough one for some small businesses who are solopreneurs or have limited staff. However, if you are absent from your booth, you are missing opportunities. Even if you just have a friend cover for you while you skip to the loo, grab a nibble or need to sit for a minute, that’s better than losing leads.

Know how to end a conversation gracefully.
While you are conversing with just one person for an extended period of time, 10 others just walked by. That’s 10 leads you didn’t get. Plan and prepare. Even role play to be ready for the multitude of personalities you will encounter.

FOLLOW UP after the show.

Have your follow up email ready BEFORE you even go to the event. Then, it’s just a matter of putting in the data collected, placing the photo you took of your table top exhibit at the event and clicking send.

Try it.

To those who have said, “we’ve tried it and it didn’t work”, I say, “Try this.” Know the purpose. Implement the strategy. Avoid mistakes. And follow up. A great opportunity to “try it” is at the Business Women’s Mega Mixer. I’ll be there and hope to see you there, too!


exhibit marketing

Shonna Jordan

Now celebrating 15 years as owner of the North San Diego-based marketing agency, Jordan & Jordan Marketing, Shonna has helped hundreds of business owners, entrepreneurs and independent agents striving to polish their marketing efforts by providing marketing education and training, expert marketing materials development, marketing language development and marketing campaign strategy and implementation. In addition, she is the owner/founder of Good Ol’ Gals Business Connections and the producer of two large local business events each year: The Business Explosion and the Business Women’s Mega Mixer