Plan Your Trade Show NOW —

This current state of Virus-panic and freeze-frame will not last forever, obviously. So let’s plan for success down the road a bit. When, exactly, can we HAVE the next trade show?? Okay, that is not certain at this point — but let’s be ready to rock when the green light finally shows, right?


Sure thing. Because a lack of planning is clearly the dumbest mistake any professional can make and trade shows are easily one of the most expensive moments in the coming year, for a lot of us.

There are a LOT of reasons why a given Trade Show is a money-sucking waste of time, but among those are some items Within Your Control. So that’s a good thing. Here are a few items we think are worth considering —

GET PROFESSIONAL HELP: Where? From your Best Clients.

Yes! Early on in your planning process, contact your top clients — maybe a dozen or so of your best customers. And ask these vital questions:

  • What was their decision point on choosing your company?
  • What is the best thing about your product or service?
  • How does your product or service help their business?
  • What trade shows do they usually attend?
  • Which exhibits really got their attention?

Clearly this input can help you choose WHICH would be the right Trade Shows for your company to take part in, and help shape your ideas on what to offer and your display materials.

STAFFING TRICK:  One item seldom addressed is the people you choose to be at the booth. The top sales hitters might be the obvious choice — but is that ideal for that environment? Few sales can be closed at the show, which is likely their strong suit. Consider this finding from a recent study on — bear with me now — dating habits. Really. The big surprise: the MOST attractive quality of all, regardless of other factors, is simply Happiness.

No joke. Simple, genuine Happiness is far, far stronger in its overall attractiveness to others than good looks, nice clothing, fame, income or even health. We really enjoy being around people who love their lives and consistently enjoy themselves. They’re fun! Probably we hope it’s contagious, and to a point it is. Sure.

Faking it does not work. Any professional will see through the cold, grinning sales shark in an instant.

And your bouncy, good-humored, happy crew not only will charm and entertain your prospective clients, they will make the long hours at the show easier for everyone, maybe including you. In the meantime, your strongest closers are where they SHOULD be — back at the ranch, making calls and emails, bagging more sales for your company.

FOCUS, NOW, FOCUS:  Your company’s most valuable asset to your customers must be front and center. That seems obvious, I know, but a huge number of Trade Show exhibits fail to highlight their best feature, oddly enough.

Think of your booth display as a billboard.

Remember the rule of thumb for billboard ads by the interstate? Something like it must reach that motorist within seven seconds to be effective.

Your prospects are moving a bit slower of course, but still your graphic display has to almost  instantly reach a prospect as she strolls past and must address a problem she faces often. So, think: What is really your company’s strong suit?  Are you faster on turnaround? Less expensive? Better service? A stronger warranty? Find your focus and sell THAT. Your company’s other selling points will come up in later discussion.

GIVEAWAYS THAT WORK:  Time was, pens and coffee mugs with your logo were THE obvious choices. And for good reason, too, being useful and (to a point) durable. Thumb drives might be a good option these days.

So, we hope you are planning that big trade show for later this year, after the madness has abated a bit and we can get back to some level of normal business. This too shall pass, right?

Author: Denny

Denny Porter is a creative professional, having worked as an artist, book author, reporter, editor and columnist. He produces concepts for new products for almost any industry upon request and very quickly, via and offers creative consulting. Mr. Porter served honorably in the US Army (Europe) and attended Union College in Kentucky and Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.