Must Trade Shows Be Boring?

This week I attended two trade shows, each geared towards different professional audiences. Anyone who’s visited similar gatherings won’t be surprised to hear they were equally dull.

Both ballrooms held several dozen display tables, and every presenter offered the usual candy, cookies, pens, koozies, and brochures.

I rarely knew what a company did unless I actually spoke with a salesperson. And nobody did anything of substance to compel me to learn more about their product or service.

Repeatedly I’d see a company name, a spread of brochures, some goodies…and absolutely zero reason to visit with them.

When I’m walking down the aisle at these shows I glance left and right but typically continue walking. Someone saying hello will get a response, but I don’t slow down.

In fact I’ll only stop if I understand in advance what you’re selling and believe I need that item.

So I must be missing their logic. I know that trade show sponsors pay to personally meet potential customers. There’s lots of competition for attention, but so many vendors make no effort to differentiate themselves. They invariably look exactly like their neighbors, then can’t understand why their investment doesn’t generate more activity.

So ask yourself; will a landscaper get more visibility from brochures and cookies, or a patch of grass and a live sheep? Won’t a plumber be more prominent by displaying a functioning toilet?

Still think the plumber should give out candy? Use the toilet as a candy bowl to ensure customers remember services being offered.

Cookies are a good handout if you’re a baking company, but otherwise they’re instantly forgettable.

In fact, only one non-food company I encountered successfully used baked goods to market themselves. The business advisor whose board displaying 36 donuts proclaimed “Let us fill in the holes in your business!”, and his flow of sales prospects dwarfed all others.

Doing what everyone else does is safe, but also mind-numbing. Swaddling your message in a blanket of ho-hum guarantees you’ll lose attention from prospective customers.

But taking a creative risk can garner you loads of attention, as well as helping to fatten your bottom line.

Finally, remember what operatic great Beverly Sills said; “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

Make your marketing more interesting at

2 Replies to “Must Trade Shows Be Boring?

  1. Another great example of your original suggestions that provide extraordinary investment in moving our businesses from here to up there with simple yet effective ideas and observations. Thank you again from the east coast in coastal North Carolina.

    1. Thank you John. I look forward to seeing your business soon on the list of fastest growing businesses.

      Warm regards,

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