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How to Make the Most Out of In-Person Trade Shows

3 minute read

By Phil Hobden

I often come across numerous tips on how visitors can make the most out of trade shows or events. However, it's equally important to discuss how vendors can maximise their experience and achieve a great return on investment (ROI)... after all a good trade show can feed the sales machine for many months to come!

For me, someone who's done countless trade shows, I find it disheartening to see vendors on stand spending more time on their phones or engaged in conversations among themselves than with customers. They will pack up early to go home and wonder later why they didn't generate any leads from the stand!

Worse still, they complain about the lack of ROI to the organisers or throw out the usual excuses like “We had a bad spot” or “wrong audience”. But guess what… quite often, it isn't them it really is you (or your team)! I’ve said it a million times… it's crucial to actively engage with potential customers at an event, rather than waiting for them to approach you.

So, here’s five valuable tips to make the most out of in-person trade shows, ensuring fruitful conversations and interactions that can help you achieve that desired return on investment!

Radiate Confidence: Stand tall, with your shoulders back and chin up. Embrace a power stance that exudes confidence. Your self-assurance will attract people towards your booth, drawn to your commanding presence.

Get Creative with Business Cards: Move beyond the ordinary rectangular business cards or smartphone apps. Invest in uniquely shaped cards that leave a lasting impression. Consider triangular cards that convey an edgy and determined vibe or circular ones that signify your affiliation with industry leaders. Be unforgettable!

Dress to Be Remembered: Don't blend in; instead, stand out with your attire. Choose an outfit that catches everyone's attention, like a vibrant t-shirt colour. Alternatively, you can go all out with a suit covered in blinking LED lights or an extravagant hat adorned with feathers that reach the heavens. Remember, your appearance should serve as a conversation starter rather than just a networking tool and in a room of hundreds of vendors how will anyone remember you if you just blend in?

Offer Memorable Swag: Move beyond the standard pens and keychains of the past. These are great but even writing this I can see around 50 branded pens in my office, most of which will never be used. Instead, why not attract attention by giving away unique and customised promotional items. Consider distributing custom-designed fidget spinners featuring your logo or miniature drones that descend from the ceiling. Trust me, everyone will flock to your booth just to get their hands on these one-of-a-kind goodies.

Master the Art of Networking: Approach networking with style and charm. Don't hesitate to use clever icebreakers or inject humour and personality into your conversations. By leaving a lasting impression, people will remember you long after the trade show concludes… which is EXACTLY how it should be!

Remember, trade shows aren't just about conducting business; they provide an opportunity to showcase your charisma and stand out from the crowd. And if others aren't doing it, standing out becomes a lot easier! So, go ahead, conquer that trade show floor, and let your light-hearted brilliance shine!


About the author

Phil Hobden is a Sales Leader, public speaker & podcast host with over 20 years of sales leadership experience who now works for a leading global technology business leading digital change across the accounting industry.

The views and opinions in this article are the author’s and may not reflect those of the business they work for.

Find out more about Phil Hobden on LinkedIn.


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