Archive for February, 2016


In today’s economic climate small business owners are searching for cost effective marketing tools and new ways to attract customers. One method of connecting with prospects that consistently produces results and remains a great value is face to face marketing at a tradeshow. The tradeshow floor is an exceptional source of business for both exhibitors and attendees. The Center for Exhibition Industry Research says 66% of attendees come to network while exhibitors will reach 7 times the number of qualified prospects at a tradeshow compared to other types of advertising. With that in mind, here are some tips for maximizing your next tradeshow experience no matter which side of the exhibit aisle you’re on.

For attendees:

  • Prepare in advance. Before you go, pull up the exhibitor list from the show website and take note of all the companies you believe can fulfill your requirements.       Research their products, pricing and reputation on the internet before you visit. Revise the list before show time to zero in on the firms you definitely want to visit on the show floor.
  • Target your resources. Have a clear understanding of exactly what you need before you go to the show. Create a list of the products and services you will search for.       Include all the details that are required for the perfect solution you desire. Be prepared to articulate your needs and provide a description of the problem you’re trying to solve.       Prepare all the information and answers to questions an exhibitor would need to provide you with a quote.       Include important details such as style, color, quantity, size, budget and deadline and delivery dates.
  • Network. In addition to looking at the exhibits and talking to sales people, the show floor is a great place to mix and mingle with industry colleagues and meet new prospects for your business. Have plenty of business cards with you to pass out to people you meet in the seminars, in the aisles and at each booth.

For exhibitors

  • Get leads. Unless you are attending a consumer show exhibitors will be restricted from direct selling or accepting money, so lead generation should be the primary goal of every exhibitor. Obtain each prospects name, phone number and email address.       You can gather the information by holding a drawing, registering them for newsletter or by signing a guest book. Making sure those leads are qualified by ranking each prospect. Use a simple ABC system. Mark hot prospects as “A” leads for quick follow up.  Your “B” leads might buy In 6 months, but the “C” are most likely not qualified and just wanted your free mouse pad. Add a note on the lead that will remind you what the prospect asked about. Include a personal comment about your topic of conversation, where they lived, or what they wore. These notes will create familiarity and jog the prospects memory during the follow up process.
  • Collect competitive intelligence. Nine out of ten business owners ranked exhibitions as the number one most useful source of purchasing information because they could examine and evaluate competing products in one location. Your customer is on the show floor comparing yours business to others, so you should know what you are up against. Walk around the show and observe your competition.       How does their display look, what are they saying to customers, what are customers buying, what are they selling and how is it priced? Debrief the staff about your findings after the show and use the knowledge you gathered to make improvements to your image and marketing programs.
  • Gather Market Research. You have a million dollar opportunity to check the pulse of the public right there at your booth. Take a short survey to uncover customer concerns and important problems. Request their opinions on your new product line, styles or color choices. Ask attendees to rate your service on quality, delivery or courtesy.       This is your chance to get true opinions on the spot

Susan Ratliff is President of Exhibit Experts. As an award-winning entrepreneur, she brings 35 years experience in sales and marketing and provides seminars and products to turn any tradeshow booth into a powerful profit center. For information on exhibit marketing products or to hire Susan Ratliff to speak at your next event, contact her at 602-828-1177 or visit