Tricks of the Tradeshow

Tricks of the Trade(Show): Planning, Exhibiting, and Follow Up

Earlier this year we attended our first AED Summit trade show where we both exhibited and presented at this event. Several months before we were set to exhibit, we sat down with our seasoned-trade-show-exhibiting sister company, Equipment Trader, to talk about the most important factors of exhibiting and how to make this a revenue producing event. The following tips are a sum of our planning and post-exhibiting takeaways. We hope it helps you as you consider exhibiting (which hopefully we’ve convinced you of in our last post!) and how to get the most out of the experience!  

Before the Tradeshow:

Every good event planner has a checklist, and this tradeshow required a pretty detailed list at that. For your convenience we’ve attached a mock of what our checklist looked like for our last trade show, sparing you the nitty-gritty details. Here is that attachment.

During the Tradeshow:

Planning, while necessary of course,  will only get you so far. Once you’re through the door of that trade show floor, you’ll need to take action to generate opportunities. Below you’ll find our roundup of the best trade show advice for game day!

Your booth staff makes or breaks your success, therefore make sure to put the best people in your exhibit who are positive, professional and energetic. 

If your employees are new to trade show exhibiting, they need to be trained on how to talk about your products succinctly in this setting and how to capture crucial lead information via a printed or digital spreadsheet on the spot, taking detailed notes when able.

The 3 types of trade show attendees, and how to approach them:

  1. The “Drifter”: knows nothing about you, and is a first or second-time attendee.
    • How to approach: New attendees will likely be drawn to giveaways and entertainment. Because they’re new to the game, you’ll have more time to engage them and figure out of this attendee is a valuable lead by first capturing their information with your giveaway drawing and then asking more specific questions about who they are and what they do. Every lead counts!
  2. The “Drive-By”: higher ups with limited time, surveying for valuable prospects quickly.
    • How to approach: You may not have had the resources to schedule a personal meeting with your top prospects outside of tradeshow hours. No worries! By quickly and succinctly communicating what you have to offer to these important executive company contacts on the trade show floor, you might be able to secure a spot in their schedule that week for dinner or drinks. If not, make sure to follow up after the trade show with an email or phone call reminding them of your show special.
  3. The “Know-it-all”: Need a WOW factor to attract them to your space, they are seasoned attendees and well connected.
    • How to approach: Similarly to the Drive-By, these trade show attendees are fickle and need to be carefully approached. They want to be wow’d by your booth, so if you couldn’t spring for all the bells and whistles you’ll probably have to step outside of your booth to engage this attendee.

Three things to know about the attendee you are talking to:

  1. WHO you are with:
    • Immediately introduce yourself and find out what their name and company is.
  2. WHY they are visiting:
    • Ask them if they are a seasoned attendee and what do they seek to accomplish when they attend this tradeshow.
  3. WHAT you need to do:
    • Your primary goal should always be to get them to make some sort of commitment. This will vary from prospect to prospect but whether it’s to secure a follow-up phone call or making a sale on the spot, it’s important to secure something!

After the Tradeshow:

While each business may judge the success of their tradeshow attendance differently, the best trade show exhibitors know the work’s not over when the trade show ends! Those resulting connections is where success can truly be cultivated. Use the information you’ve gathered on your game day spreadsheet to reach out to these leads as soon as you get back through email, a friendly phone call, or even a thoughtful handwritten note. We suggest trying all three methods for different leads to see what works best, again tracking your sales for future strategic planning.

We hope these tips and tricks help you as you plan and prepare for your own exhibit. Remember, you’ll only get as much out of the trade show experience as you put into it- so really go for it! For questions or further advice on tradeshow planning and exhibiting, we’d love if you reached out to us at 


Sarah Gallagher

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