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Trade Show Booth Staffing Secrets

April 13th, 2009 · 4 Comments · Trade Show Marketing

The success of your trade show booth in large part will be determined by your trade show booth staff. Here are my “Top Ten Secrets” to making sure your trade show booth staff, be it just you or a crew of ten, do a great job and maximize your trade show marketing success. Of course, you don’t want to forget the importance of having a compelling trade show display design, and the other basics of trade show marketing. And the truth is, just like my earlier “trade show secrets” post, these trade show booth staffing “secrets” aren’t really secrets, they are more just “common sense”, but “secrets” just seems to have a better ring to it. Plus, based on my experience at past trade shows, believe it or not, from some trade show booth staffing I’ve seen, the ten points below must be “secret” because some of the trade show staffers I saw didn’t appear to be aware of them!

1. TAKE CARE. Take care of yourself! Get plenty of sleep the night before, eat a good breakfast, stay hydrated, and wear comfortable shoes (as I already said, this is really just common sense!). If you don’t take care of yourself, you may end up looking like one of the many trade show zombies mindlessly wandering the aisles.

2. STAND. Stand up, and keep standing up. Don’t sit down. Staffers that are standing are much more approachable than those that are sitting with their arms folded, staring off into space. You should stay standing the entire time, which is why you want to wear those comfortable shoes.

3. IDENTIFY YOURSELF. Wear your name tag, and make it easily visible. And I would add, if you have a tough name for the locals to pronounce, consider going with a nickname plus your real name.

4. MAKE IT PERSONAL. Find out and use your prospect’s name. People like a personal touch. Find out who you are talking to and use their name, repeatedly. When your conversation is over, be sure to thank them by name.

5. AVOID THE YES-NO. Ask open-ended questions. If you ask yes-or-no or one-word-answer questions, you are likely to get a simple yes or no answer thrown over the shoulder as your potential prospect keeps on walking.

6. ASK. Find out the prospect or customer’s problem before you solve it. Don’t just launch into what you think you can do for the prospect. Ask questions, listen, and find out what they need… then tell them how you can help them with their needs.

7. LISTEN. Remember the 80-20 rule. 80% of your conversation should be listening, and only 20% should be talking. You can learn a lot about your customer just by keeping your mouth shut.

8. GIVE. Have cool trade show giveaways and hand them out. If you need some suggestions or ideas, you can find some unique trade show giveaways here. A simple but useful trade show giveaway (with your company name and contact info printed on it) is a great way to thank prospects for spending time talking to you and to remind them of your company later. When trade show attendees spend their time talking to you, show your appreciation with a trade show giveaway. Just make sure the trade show zombies don’t take all of them!

9. IGNORE. Don’t spend time chatting with other staffers. Trade show booth business hours are not the time to talk about where you’re going to eat dinner later or about the ball game on TV last night. Don’t talk to other staffers in the booth. Reserve all your time and focus for potential prospects.

10. FOCUS. Focus on your booth, not the trade show booth next to you or the trade show booth across the aisle. Resist the temptation to slip away and “study the competition”. Do that after hours. During trade show business hours, you should be in your booth, standing, and ready to do business.

Follow these top ten trade show booth staffing secrets, and make your next trade show a huge success.

PS. If you have a trade show booth staffing secret or tip, or a personal success story, feel to leave a comment and share your experience.


4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Nicolas Prudhon // Apr 15, 2009 at 11:27 am

    I find that situation so ironic, because last year I had to prepare my first trade show oversea (and first trade show at all actually) and didn’t have any clue whatsoever of how to do that.

    I wish I hadfound your website at that time.

    Fortunately for me, I’m no longer required to participate in trade show, but if ever have too, I’ll make sure to drop by your blog!

  • 2 The Trade Show Guru // Apr 15, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    hi Nicolas,
    Exhibiting at an international trade show adds a whole different layer of things to worry about, but the basics are still the same. Thanks for stopping by! ~ Steve

  • 3 Master of the Philippines // Apr 16, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Trade show sales techniques aren’t really any different than any other, like car sales. It’s too bad that most car salesmen suck at sales. The product sells itself most of the time.

    These techniques are even used by military recruiters, where they learn it from Xerox no less.

  • 4 The Trade Show Guru // Apr 16, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    Hey RT,
    I agree that trade show marketing shares a lot in common with marketing in general. And I don’t know why, but 90% of the car salesmen I have dealt with know very little about the car but really want to be my friend and tell me jokes. The stereotype fits.
    I’m not familiar with the Xerox connection… ~ Steve

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