The Trade Show Survival Guide: Part 2

Updated: Sep 6, 2018

Before SH Design-Build entered the kitchen and bath showroom world, we built trade show kiosks. We have been to dozens of trade shows all over North America and we’ve learned quite a bit, as visitors and vendors.

We also understand that setting up a booth at a trade show is a big investment. With the right plan (and the tips and strategies we're sharing below), you can head into trade show season with confidence.

3 Things to Remember

Attendees have buying power.

4 out of 5 trade show visitors are authorized to buy. (Source:

Want to reach the decision makers? Nearly half (46%) of attendees are in executive or upper management. Source:

A captive audience. Visitors spend an average of 9 hours checking out kiosks and exhibits. Source:

Having lot of potential customers in one place is great. But how do you make sure they visit your booth? How can you stand out to attendees who have spent hours of the trade show floor?

People are attracted to great graphics and a clear message.

Anatomy of a trade show booth

An example of an SH-designed trade-show booth

Roll-ups, banners, podiums, display furniture and elements should be well designed using high-resolution images and graphics. No one is impressed by a 6-foot banner with fuzzy images.

People, especially those born in more recent generations, are far more visual than they used to be. In previous years, pamphlets and text-heavy banners served to educate trade show visitors, who were more inclined to stop and read. Now, people want experiences that let them try, see and touch.

Distill your brand, images and information down to the essentials. Make it simple for people to know who you are, what you do, and how they can contact you.

  • Sharp graphics

  • Large images

  • Easy-to-read literature (flyers, pamphlets, etc.)

  • Business cards with complete information

  • Email sign-up form

  • Tablet or computer

  • Business Card Scanner

  • Good Lighting

Attracting People to Your Booth

Interactive Displays

When you give booth visitors something to do, they are more likely to hang around. Having a touch screen with your products or previous projects, infographics, quick snapshots of your services or process and even reviews keep visitors busy swiping. This can be helpful if you are busy with one visitor and don't want to lose the chance to speak with another.


A picture is worth a thousand words, so how valuable is a virtual tour of your showroom or a completed project? You can choose to let all visitors try out the headset, or you can save the VR experience for more serious prospects.

Special Offers

If it suits your brand, you can promote special offers available only to trade show attendees. Discounts of first orders or deals on new products are tempting and will attract people to your booth. Be sure that whatever you offer, the terms are clear. Also be sure to follow up on the offer after the show.

Instead of a discount or deal, you can offer your expertise. Prepare a white paper (either physical copies or via a link) about industry trends or with a detailed case study. Insider information is valuable, and often what people are looking for a trade shows. If the even is being held in your hometown, consider offering info on the local area to out-of-towners.

You should already have a social media marketing plan in place for your trade show. One way to use social media is to engage with people who have checked in at the venue or mentioned the trade show on social media. Invite them to your booth and offer a special incentive through social channels.

Social Media

Use your social media channels to your advantage. Collect all the hashtags and follow all the accounts related to the show, then post early and often. The more active you are, the more likely it is that people will find you. Make sure your posts contain your booth number and any special offers, products or gifts you have.

Don't get too mechanical though! Everyone will be posting their booth number and asking people to come by- that is the goal. Engage people with photos of your experience, write posts about what you are hearing and share posts from other vendors and attendees. Listen to the conversation online and offline and adapt your social media posts to provide visitors with the information they are asking for.

If you attend any talks or information sessions, post some of your notes, a quote or two, or some interesting stats.

More ways to use social media at trade shows here.

Promotional Items

Mobile Device Chargers


T-Shirts (with a cool graphic or quotations; keep your logo small and discreet)

Water Bottles

Notebooks (high-quality ones, like Moleskine)

Cloth bags

Note: One of our favorites from a previous conference was a mini spray bottle of screen cleaner with the cloth cleverly hidden in the lid.

If you are going for a more “traditional” item, like pens, lanyards, key chains or magnets, make them interesting with cool graphics or extra features (A pen with a highlighter at one end, for example, or a key chain that lights up).

Stick to your plan

Attending a trade show, either as a visitor or a vendor, is a major investment of time and money. That is why you have to go with a plan and stick to it as much as possible.

With the right planning, a trade show booth is worth the investment. You will put the most time and energy into the booth, of course, but don't neglect your most important task- getting people to visit your booth! The right mix of visuals, digital tools, social media activity and promotional items is essential.

Use this blog to make sure you don't forget a thing, and be sure to check out Part 1 of our Trade Show Survival Guide.

We hope to see you there!

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