The tricks of the TRADE (show)

I just finished a successful weekend at the 2012 Pittsburgh Pet Expo with Vitality Science.    3 days, over 10,000 people, lots of animals and lots of business contacts and sales.  Our weekend went so well that I decided to write this blog post about

HOW TO put on a successful trade show and promote your products to the masses!

Vitality Science at the Pittsburgh Pet Expo


When you are purchasing a spot at a trade show you want to think about the following:

1) Where is the front door? 1a) Where is the front door is relationship to the exit?

TIP: One either wants to be right in front of the entrance or at least 2 rows over. REASON: It is human nature to want to “look around” first before buying and generally shows are so big, that unless they REALLY want your product or service they will not put forth the effort to find your booth again.

2) Which direction is the flow of traffic going to be headed? 2a) Is there an attraction or a widely known company, somewhere along that flow, that will change the course of traffic? Think like your customer. What will they be distracted by? and from there where will they turn? and then where will there path lead? To your booth?

TIP: You might think about having a worker stand at the top of your aisle with promotional give-aways or something to draw them down to your end of the aisle

3) Generally corner booths are not available. Either they are more money or they are saved for the gold sponsors.

TIP: If all else fails try to get a booth next to a corner or next to a gold sponsor.  Gold sponsors are companies that people know and will seek out to visit.


Its the little things that are not apparent to the average client that matter. This is why i will give you my MUST HAVES for a trade show.

1) Velcro Tabs:  These inexpensive life savers will come in handy over and over again.  For example when i unrolled my new banner, i realized that the outer edges were turning in. So much so that you could not see the full banner. So i took 6 pieces of velco and adhered it to the back of the banner and attached it to the cloth divider behind my booth. It looked great and no one was the wiser.  Another great use for it was the table cloth that i had brought was too long, so i folded the end into a triangle and adhered it under the table with some velcro. The table cloth looked as if it was specifically made for that table.  So do not for get your velco.

2) Masking tape

3) Scissors

4) Calculator

5) Cell Phone Charger: especially if you are using your smart phone for foursquare or paypal to receive payments.

6) Pens

7) Business Cards

8) Stapler

9) Camera: To take pictures of product and booth for future entries in trade shows, For promotional resources and to be able to look back and see what could be changed for next year.

10) Name Tag: To be personable and receive credit for sale by name recognition


Depending on what your product or service is, determines what kind of feeling you are going to want to portray at the trade show.  For example Vitality Science  is a Holistic Pet Supplement Company. Our main priority is to educate the customer about natural alternatives to their pet’s health. We need to talk to a lot of people for an extended amount of time, take questions and recommend protocols, while making new comers feel welcomed and a part of the discussion. So we have found that the best set up for us is an ‘L’ table shape. If you can picture a bartender behind his bar, sweeping from one end of the bar to the other. Talking and taking care of each visitor.

If you are the type of company that would like to bring people into your space and talk things through one-on-one. Then one of my favorite set up designs is 2 tables on the out sides of the booth, with a table and chair set up inside the booth towards the back.  Of course to make it even more inviting. I recommend a nice homey carpet and maybe a floor lamp with soft lighting.

You may choose not to have any tables and just let the name and reputation of the business speak for itself. Whatever you choose make it yours, make it inviting and make it nice.  It is the little extra touches that you do that will allow you to stand above the rest.


Before I was in the trade show business i was in the catering business.  My job was to present a pleasant display of food that was functional and fantastic. I also was in charge of keep the client happy and ensuring their repeat business.  All industries, when dealing with customers are the same. Be it catering or trade show, we are still selling ourselves first then our service or product.  With this said I take a booth set up extremely serious.

You could have the best product or service in the world, but it doesn’t matter if no one can see you.

1) Make sure that your display is a 360* display.  Walk around your booth and make sure that there are no blind spots, blank spots or products without labels facing all directions.

TIP: Take a walk through the conference space. Take note on how your customer will approach your booth and make sure all the information (signs, products, brochures and sales people) are standing in a proper location to catch the attention of your potential clients.

Notice: On the left side of this picture. I used both the front and back of the easel to adhere a poster.  No matter what the direction of traffic is, people can see my posters.

2) Utilize the space that you were given.  Dont be afraid to use anything and everything around you.  In the picture above you can see that I used two extra chairs to prop my signs on just at the edge of my allotted space.  In the picture below: I used a poll that was behind me to hang a brochure by a string.

TIP: Use the space that is allotted to you but do not block pathways or infringe on your neighbor. Common courtesy goes a long way. For example: Dont put a large poster up on your table that will block the view of customers to your neighbor. Or dont have extremely loud music or videos playing, to where your neighbor cant interact with their customers. Just act as you would want your neighbor to be towards you. Some of our best wholesale accounts come from people that were are neighbors at trade shows.
3) If you are selling a product or information that people need to read in order to learn more about your services, then I highly recommend raising those products or pamphlets up to the customers eye sight.  There is a entire science that goes behind the placing of products on store shelves.  The product that sells the most gets the all time desired shelf space, right at eye level. The least desired spot is on the bottom shelf.  Seriously how many of you actually get down, on your knees, to dig out the last tupper ware jar, on the bottom shelve, at kmart? Not too many of you, i assume. You will just as easily reach for the one at arms length.  The same philosophy goes for your booth.  People will not come down to the table, so just as well pass it up. They will only “put in the cart” if the table comes to them and information is readable, in eye sight.  Notice the Luxolite (the brown jar above the boxes) are just the right height for an average adult and it was the highest elevation on the table.  Luxolite was are biggest seller at this trade show.  Coincidence?

TIP: One of the best ways to raise your table up to the customer is to put the table on bed risers. These are most commonly found at Bed, Bath and Beyond or walmart and run for about $10.00.  Also stack your products up or use display risers. If you can place the risers under the table cloth it looks more professional.  We are taught at a young age, “not to touch”, Subconsciously this command stays with us and potential clients are more likely just to look at the product rather than pick it up and read it.

4) Make sure your most common products are in arms length to your sales person, so they can easily use it as a tool, while talking to the client.  Any break, even just to turn around and pick up a product, could loose the clients interest.

TIP: Make sure your tables are ‘user friendly’. Meaning all products and pamphlets are easily and seamlessly obtained by your sales reps.


1) Find a common ground with your client

2) Talk to them not at them

3) Acknowledge that the client is a person and not dollar sign

4) Ask yourself: What can you do for them? What problem is your product or service helping them solve?

5) When you give you get back. Offer a part of your expertise for free and returns should follow

6) Have Fun. Smile!

I hope I helped to answer a lot of questions you might have had about putting on a successful trade show. If you have any other questions that i did not answer please feel free to comment below and i will answer them to the best of my ability.


LeLa Becker is founder of Business Love 101, Start Up Business consulting services

If you feel this article has helped you and you would like to donate to Business Love 101, so others can continue to learn on a sliding scale please feel free to do so by CLICKING HERE


2 thoughts on “The tricks of the TRADE (show)

  1. Good post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon every day. It will always be useful to read content from other authors and practice something from their websites.

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