18 Hidden Rules for Trade Shows

Skyline posted a list of "18 Hidden Rules for Trade Shows" on their blog. The list is great for two reasons.

First, it's a great example of posting content useful to your customers to encourage a sale. Skyline is a trade show exhibit manufacturer; this list encourages prospects to visit their site, helps them make better displays, and increases the likelihood readers will buy their future displays from Skyline.

Second, the list has some good tips. I've reposted some of the best points below with my commentary; read the article for the full list.

1. The more words you put on your trade show display, the fewer times they will be read.

Very true. The display should be mostly graphic with simple, easy-to-read text. People should want to take your literature, or talk to you, to get more information.

2. The larger the crowd of people already in your booth, the more other people will want to visit your booth.

My only caveat to this is at some point the booth becomes overcrowded, and people decide they're better off coming back later when the crowd is gone and someone is available to speak to them. Frequently, they never come back. To prevent this, be sure your booth is big enough for your anticipated crowd, and optimize your use of floor space to maximize available space.

4. The more fun trade show attendees have in your booth during the show, the more serious business you will do after the show.

I have mixed feelings about this. I would say that the more fun attendees have, the more likely they are to remember you when you call afterwards. I would also say that for many manufacturers, "information" is as important to your target audience as "fun".

6. Your best booth staffers are usually the ones who talk the least and listen the most.

Amen. It's amazing how many booth workers talk so much that attendees never have a chance to ask to make an order!

8. The colors of your trade show display will likely be determined by: 1. your brand colors, or 2. the latest design trends or 3. your company president’s spouse.

Question: which of these do you think is the best method of selecting colors?

10. The greater the distance a visitor has traveled to attend a trade show, the higher the level of hospitality you should provide.

My only problem with this philosophy is the implication that it's ok to be less hospitable to in-town attendees.

13. The more years you exhibit at the same show, the more you will have repeat customers visit you in your booth.

Yes, but weigh the value of this repeat business against the overall value of the show. If only three people visit your booth this year, seeing the same three people again next year probably won't help you much.

18. The faster you follow up your trade show leads, the greater the sales you will generate from that show.

Absolutely. It's a common problem; people come home from a trade show with a suitcase full of business cards, and honest intentions to call them all right away. Three months later, they've turned into a pile of cold leads on your desk. People you meet at trade shows should receive some form of contact from you the week after the show; this is a great way to introduce a social media element by sending them your e-newsletter, and follow-up with more personal contact within the month.

What other "hidden rules" have you found for trade shows?