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Before you head off to your next big trade show or conference, such as the amazing social media events coming up in Miami and Boston to shake hands and make connections, make sure you have all your bases covered for what you’ll need while you’re there. Here is a list of the top 10 things to have at a trade show to help ensure a successful show.

1. A Well-Prepared and Enthusiastic Booth Staff

If you are hosting a booth at a trade show or event, then for the duration of the show, the booth staff will be the face of your business. Make sure they are doing a great job and are happy to be there.

Get on the same page and be sure they know what you want from them and how you want them to interact with your potential customers. Also be sure your booth staff knows what information they should be sharing with the people who stop by.

Keep your booth staff well-hydrated and well-fed to keep their morale and energy up and they will be able to keep up the pop up displays while talking to people and be excited about your business.

2. Eco-friendly Giveaways

Of course giveaways are great ways to build traffic at your booth and get people to walk away with your brand emblazoned on an item they’ll use and show their friends every day. But make sure it’s a well-made and eco-friendly item you are handing out because cheaply made stuff will break or fall apart and end up in the landfills – definitely not the message or the impact you want your company to be having out in the world.

3. Power Chargers

Obvious, perhaps, but still easy to overlook. Your awesome slide presentation or video show isn’t going to be effective for long if your laptop battery dies two hours into an 8-hour show!

4. A Great Reason for People to Join Your Mailing List

Put some time and money into offering a great giveaway that is chosen by drawing of a form that people fill out, or some other freebie or incentive. In order to be notified that they’ve won, they’ll have to give you their real information. Be sure to ask permission first, but if you offer a prize and a product that is genuinely interesting to them, they’ll be happy for you to put them on your mailing list!

5. Show-time Specials

Offering an exclusive deal or package to each guest or business speaker at a trade show is a great way to net more buyers then and there. Be sure to have a catchy banner to advertise your irresistible offer for a combo package of your services or product at a special price available only during the show.

6. Business Cards

Of course, be sure you have brought enough business cards to last everyone for the duration of the show – and it never hurts to pull out impressive business card holders displaying your company logo or an interesting design. Be creative about what business card cases you carry and anyone around when you have it out may strike up a conversation with you.

7. A Gifted Speaker

Bring out the best of your company or else hire someone who can give effective and exciting demonstrations of your product on a continuing basis. Find someone who can engage the audience and present your product or service so that it looks as awesome as it really is.

8. Less Chairs

It might seem counterintuitive, but if you bring less chairs for people to sit in to watch your demonstrations or presentations, it will be less daunting for the first person to come sit in. Plus the space will run out sooner and it will be standing-room-only, which will attract many others to come see what all the fuss is about.

9. All the Basics

You don’t want to be caught without a pen, scissors, tape or a breath mint when you most need any of those things! Be sure to prepare a little basic necessities kit with those items plus any maintenance-type objects that are specific to your display (puffy paint, an extra garland of tinsel to replace the one that fell off, etc.) so you’re not caught high and dry in the middle of the show.

10. A Great Attitude

Probably the most important thing of all! You can prepare all you want and have all the little bits in place, but if you aren’t smiling and positive about the experience, you’re not going to succeed at your tradeshow. A person who smiles is a person who succeeds!

Vern is a guest blogger who enjoys attending various trade shows and conferences in the technology industry. He is especially happy to see trades shows running smoothly thanks to all of the hard work that goes into adequate preparation, including having spare laptop rentals for attendees when theirs are down.

3 comments on “Top 10 Things to Have at a Trade Show

  • Great post there Vern, I was particularly amazed by your tip #8, I never have thought of that one. But what I mostly bring to conventions and tradeshows are pen, camera and notepad, since I came to just learn. But now I have thought of bringing my own business card for the next one that i’ll be attending to.


  • Hi Vern, I’ve been manning a trade show booth for a couple of trade shows every year and you have some great suggestions. One of the biggest ones I’ve ever exhibited at was bringing in over 60,000 attendees at one point. For high volume shows like I suggest renting the biggest booth space you can afford. The bigger booths always bring in more traffic because people assume that they have much more to offer. We also found it best to have “functional” giveaways, for example (keeping eco-friendly idea in mind) try solar powered flashlights. Having your catalog on a CD rather than in print is a great idea too.
    I really agree with about having enough business cards, it’s sort of embarrassing to run out.


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