11 Ways to Stand Out at a Trade Show

Attending trade shows is an incredible way to gain exposure, get publicity and even find sales reps for your company and products. But let’s face it — hundreds or thousands of companies attend the same trade shows, so you’ll need a way to stand out. Here’s how.

Present a Pristine Product

Think Christmas morning. Shiny and new.

And don’t forget to bring more than one. Not only do you need enough to make a presentation in your booth, but also replacement product for any that may have broken in transit or gotten soiled. While customers may be sympathetic, you only have one shot to make an impression.

Pick a Card, Any Card

You’d be surprised how many trade show attendees forget to bring their business cards. Don’t be one of them.

Include on your business card all the ways people can contact you — phone, fax, email, website, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. Most importantly, include your name.

Have an Office, Maxed

Your trade show space will be your office away from home, so bring all the office supplies you’d normally use to conduct business.


  • 2-part order forms, with a copy for the customer and a copy for you;
  • Sales brochures;
  • Credit card forms;
  • Stapler;
  • Calculator;
  • Pens;
  • Paper clips;
  • Push pins;
  • Straight pins;
  • Suction cup hooks;
  • Masking tape;
  • Gorilla tape (you can fix anything with that stuff!);
  • Packing tape for sealing your boxes at the end of the show;
  • Tide To Go;
  • A pressed table cloth in case the table does not come draped – this finishes your booth and gives you storage space under the table;
  • Extra light bulbs, extension cord and a power strip;
  • A sign for the booth with the company name on it.

Make Following Up Easy Peasy

Bring an expandable file for orders and business cards. You will have all of your post show work in one neat handy place.

Be sure to write any follow up info on the back of the customer’s business card. Things like, “took catalog”, “ordered”, “call in two weeks” — any information that will assist you in prompt follow up after the show.

Wear Comfortable Shoes

You can’t stand out if you can’t stand up and your face says, “Ouch”. 

So get some shoes that are comfy and stylish – yes, they do exist. Gym shoes are a no-no unless you have a medical condition that requires them.

Be Ready with an Elevator Pitch

Have a story about your product, what inspired it and what it does. Be prepared to talk about its features and benefits.

If there is a similar product on the market, be able to clearly articulate the points of difference between yours and the competition’s, without “negative selling”. Instead, do your homework and point out the positive differences about your product without mentioning the negatives of your competitor’s. For instance, if you’ve heard that your competitor has backorder issues, let buyers know that your product is in stock and ready to ship.

Create Foreshadowing

Do an email blast and a postcard mailing about your product a few weeks before the show. Be sure to include a “Come see us at XYZ show” with the dates and your booth number below your signature.

Show Proof of Promo

Buyers love to see that you support your product with a strong PR and advertising program. Be sure to feature your editorial placements and upcoming advertisements prominently on your brochures and trade show display.

Lure Them In with a Sweet Treat

Chocolate will slow them down every time. Place some wrapped candy in a dish or a pretty basket.

They may not buy, but they have stopped and they have looked.

Mind Your Manners

Etiquette goes a long way, even at trade show.

  • Show up on time and don’t leave the booth early.
  • Keep your booth neat and clean.
  • Have brochures/catalogs on the table so that a buyer may just take the literature if they choose not to stop for the sales pitch.
  • Keep all banners and display materials within the booth proper.
  • Greet buyers when they stop at or enter your booth.
  • Thank buyers for stopping in or writing an order.
  • Work on your hand shake. There is nothing unladylike about a firm handshake. It exudes confidence and a business like impression.
  • Get a manicure. Along with your personality and enthusiasm, your hands are a sales tool!

Be Friendly and Have Fun!

Most importantly, be friendly and inviting. Say “hi” to everyone that comes your way. And… have fun!

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