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Preparing For Trade Show Presentation: The Guide for Small Businesses

If you're a small business, chances are you don't have a dedicated trade show expert on staff. You probably have a piecemeal group of employees with varying skill sets that are at your disposal to represent your business. Don't fear, though. I'll walk you through some steps to make your trade show as effective right out of the gate as possible so you can hit the ground running!

We'll concentrate on a few areas here:

  1. Planning
  2. Presentation
  3. Preparedness


Sometimes which trade show to attend with your meager marketing budget is the best question, and sometimes it's a no-brainer. Spend some time on the phone with the sales reps for the shows. They'll give you (highly overestimated) attendance predictions, demographic data, psychographic data, and they should be able to let you know what types of marketing they've done to drive your customers to the show. Compare and decide between the different trade shows to determine which fits your target market best.

Once you know which show you'll be attending, try to get the best deal possible. Most trade shows have decided it's best not to discount booths at all, even last minute, because then everyone would want to postpone their registration, causing a huge headache for organizers.


Presentation is a very wide topic, I know. What I mean here is both the first impression and the fit and finish of your brand. The most common measurement for a trade show booth is that it takes the average person 3 seconds to walk past a 10ft booth. That means that you have 3 seconds to catch someone's attention before they pass you right by. That's a 6 second window if your booth is 20ft, and so on. First off, in a split second, can a passerby tell what it is that you do? If they are looking for your product/service, but can't tell that you provide it, you'll lose customers left and right. Corner booths can get 4-5 seconds of attention, so it's often worthwhile to pay the extra $200-300 for a corner if your booth is small.

Once they can tell what it is you do, do you look professional and trustworthy enough to consider talking to? Use high quality materials in your booth with good design, and you'll instill confidence, and they'll be ready to take the next step. I recommend my Austin banners company, but anything that is quality should do the trick.


Don't show up to the show without a plan, and don't let any of your employees show up without being trained. Provide:

  • Motivation for salespeople involved – I've had excellent luck with taking them out to lunch if they perform at a pre-set level.
  • Empowerment – Give them something to work with like a show special or something for them to entice potential buyers with.
  • Training to know – Make sure they know how everything in the booth functions, they know what to say, and make sure they have 5 approach questions to start talking with folks, and rotate them so they never sound stale.

Practicing and planning with your trade show group will work wonders for your early sales & leads. You and your team will be ready to put the rubber to the road right at the beginning of the show with no warm-up period.


AJ Wilcox is the marketing manager for a consumer electronics company in Utah. He loves running, exotic cars, and spending time with his wife and 2 kids. When he’s not attending trade shows, he is thinking up ways to drum up more leads at the next show!