Other Lessons in This Course
- Trade Show Etiquette for Presenters & Attendees
- How to Make Homemade Stress Balls
- Top 10 Advertising Jingles of All Time
- The 10 Best Slogans of All Time!
- History of TV Ads
- What are the Different Versions of USB
- Types of USB Flash Memory
- How to Motivate and Retain Your Employees
- Different Types of Portable Chargers
- What is Branding and Why is It Important?
- The Truth About Made in the USA Products
- Are Water Bottles Bad for the Environment?
- How to Recycle Pens and Pencils
- Trade Show Etiquette for Presenters & Attendees
- How to Make Your Own Tote Bag
- How Cell Phones Affect Business & Advertising
You learned how to mind your manners as a kid. It was expected for you to say “please” and “thank you,” not to interrupt when someone was talking, and cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. Those same rules hold true when you’re navigating a trade show, but whether you’re a presenter or attendee, there are also a few other things to keep in mind.
How should you behave at a trade show? What are some do’s and don’ts? Whether you’re a presenter or attendee, you should pay mind to a few basic rules of etiquette!
Know Your Product or Service
It should come naturally to talk about your products or services, to the point where you don’t have to rehearse a tired elevator pitch. If you have a lot of “uhhhs,” then you have a problem. When you’re natural, it’ll be easier to expertly answer any questions that come your way.
Stay Off the Phone
That email or Facebook notification can wait. Looking down at your phone makes you seem way less approachable, and the whole point of being at a trade show is for people to approach you! Tuck that phone away and save it for later.
Look the Part
Everyone at the booth should be dressed in either branded merchandise, like polos with your logo, or professional clothes. Make sure you hide unsightly boxes or bags, keep your table runner clean, and put your papers in a neat stack. A smile is always good, too!
Arrive on Time
Set an alarm and ensure you have enough time to commute to the trade show and help set up the booth display. Your co-workers are relying on you, and it wouldn’t look very professional to show up in the middle of a presentation.
Lay Off the Perfume/Cologne
If this was speed dating, then by all means spray on the Chanel No. 5. At a crowded trade show, however, a super fragrant perfume or cologne will make people feel like they have even less breathing air. Pop in a mint if you’re feeling smelly.
Talk With the Attendees
While it may seem familiar, you’re not there to talk to your co-workers. Branch out of the safety of the booth and try to win over the crowd. Be authentic and interested in the person who comes to visit. This will help you convince them to give your product or service a try.
Bring the Freebies
The attendees had to get into a car, find a babysitter, and take time out of their weekend to be there. The least you can do is give them a free water bottle or stress ball to take home. Put some thought and effort into your promotional products and find some trendy items the crowd will love!
Exhibitor Do's & Don'ts
• Speak confidently
• Use open body language
• Shake hands with attendees
• Dress professionally
• Give out free swag
• Be mindful of your speaking volume
• Keep your booth organized
• Maintain a positive attitude
• Stand up straight
• Stay enthusiastic
• Engage in authentic conversation
• Look at your phone too often
• Wear too much perfume or cologne
• Sit while the attendee is standing
• Talk more than you listen
• Invade personal space
• Show up late
• Eat or chew gum
• Swear or use offensive language
• Complain or roll your eyes
• Sit, lean, or slouch against the wall
• Disappear for hours
• Come across too “salesy”
It can be nothing short of exhausting going to a trade show. However, it’s worth making the best impression possible on the crowd. Recruit only the staff members who have the social graces and enthusiastic personalities to practice these rules of etiquette.
Are you prepared to exhibit at a trade show? Make sure you have all your ducks in a row with this helpful trade show checklist.
Engage in Conversation
Don’t let the exhibitor speak at you the whole time. This is your chance to ask genuine questions and show interest in the product or service. At the same time, give a hearty “hello” before you start going into the fine details. These are real people you’re interacting with after all, not robots.
Did you enjoy your experience at a particular booth? If you liked the business’s product or service, give them a call and let them know you were at the trade show. This might even lead to an exclusive discount, just for you!
Post on Social Media
Take time away from selfies and viral videos to share your trade show experience. Not only are you helping the business get more publicity, but you’re showing followers that you’re ahead of the curve with what’s new and exciting.
Spend Time at the Right Booths
While it might seem courteous to hear what someone has to say, you’re doing the business a disservice if you have no interest. If you have no intention of following up, leave the food and freebies behind and move on to another booth that’s offering something you value.
Go With the Flow
It would be encouraged at a Slayer concert, but the trade show floor isn’t the place to throw elbows and shove your way through the crowd. Be patient and walk at a casual pace from booth to booth, and don’t stop randomly in the middle of the aisle. You can always grab a map ahead of time to avoid confusion.
The presenters worked incredibly hard to set up an awesome display. Let them know their efforts are appreciated, especially considering the typical cost to rent a booth is between $100 - $150 per square foot. Something as simple as “your sign is super cool” helps validate that cost for the business.
If you had a good experience at one booth, send others in that direction. Trade shows can be huge and have hundreds of businesses at one time. Other attendees will feel less overwhelmed when they have a good starting point.
Attendee Do's & Don'ts
• Be courteous of the crowd
• Ask questions
• Follow up with companies
• Post pics on social media
• Compliment nice displays or promo items
• Spend time at booths you are interested in
• Engage in authentic conversation
• Recommend good booths to attendees
• Set appointments ahead of time if possible
• Show respect to the presenter’s space
• Give space between you and the displays
• Clean up after yourself
• Push or shove people
• Bombard the presenters with questions
• Take the giveaways at booths you’re passing
• Take photographs without permission
• Assume everything is a free sample
• Waste time at a booth if you’re not interested
• Demand a discount or free stuff
• Ignore everyone around you
• Interrupt when the presenter is speaking.
• Lay your stuff down on the trade show table
• Lean against the display or booth
• Leave your trash at a booth or on the floor
At the end of the day, you’re at the trade show to learn something new. Keep an open mind as you go from booth to booth and be courteous to both the presenters and other attendees.
Why Go to a Trade Show?
If you have to put in all this effort, you might be thinking “What’s the point?” It boils down to the ROI, or return on investment, of going to a trade show. An amazing 81% of trade show attendees have buying authority. This means the person you’re talking to can easily turn into a future customer. On the flip side, a trade show is a great way for attendees to discover something new. You might just find the product or service of your dreams!
Trade shows are also a way to give personality to your business. The staff at the booth, the interactive activities, the look of the display, and the free swag turn your brand into an experience rather than an idea. The attendees now have a memory of your business they can refer to when they need a product or service like the one you offer. This is how your business stands out from the thousands of others!
The Bottom Line
You’re sharing the trade show floor with many other people. It’s common courtesy to be mindful of space, friendly in your interactions, and respectful of each other’s time. If you’re there as a presenter, these rules are especially important as they reflect back on your business. Even if you’re not sure what fork to use at a business dinner, you can still show off your good manners at the next trade show!
Alyssa is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products. As a promo expert, she's uncovered the world’s first custom tote bag, interviewed the guy behind rock band ACDC’s logo, and had a piece published by the Advertising Specialty Institute, a leader in the promotional products industry.