Tips for Tradeshow Attendees


tradeshowSo you are ready to start the New Year and you’re preparing to go to the big tradeshow. You will be looking for new products, forming new relationships, and reconnecting with colleagues and friends. With travel and events, the show will keep you constantly on the move for a week straight. Then quickly upon your return home, you will be faced with a slew of new tasks, new deadlines and new opportunities. The beginning of the year can be a rushed and stressful time, especially with your travel schedule. With this in mind, how can you make sure the tradeshow is a valuable experience? For years I have been coming to these events and people always say, “Have a great show!” What exactly does this mean? For me, a great show is not about what happens here—it is about the result of being here. How does your attendance at this show benefit your relationships with clients? How does it affect your bottom line?

First, it is critical that you don’t just walk the show looking for something “cool” or “new”—you must search for effective solutions to help your client achieve their goals. To do this appropriately, consider these questions before your wheels leave the ground:

  • Where do your clients use promotional products?
  • Who is their target audience?
  • What is the goal of their promotion?
  • Why should they use promotional products instead of other marketing options?

Once you have considered the answers to these questions, here is how you can apply this knowledge on the show floor:

  • Create a “needs” lists for each client and scan booths quickly for items that fill the need.
  • Focus on effective solutions, not on products.
  • Avoid the “What’s new?” trap.
  • Ask your suppliers questions to get advice for new ideas.

I know we all come to the show to find what’s new, but there are more than a million different products in this industry, and neither you nor your client has tried them all—so they are new to you! Your suppliers can steer you in the right direction. They know their product lines very well, and they have seen them used many different ways—so tap into that knowledge. Here are some questions you can ask suppliers to find the right products.

  • What is an example of your products being used to achieve successful results?
  • How can you help me sell these products?
  • Who sells the most of your products? And what do they do?
  • What are some non-traditional applications of these products that make them unique?

Also, it is a good idea to use the one-on-one interaction as a way to qualify suppliers. Your vendors can dramatically improve or damage your reputation with clients—get to know these people!!

  • What potential problems should I avoid when selling your products?
  • What are your policies regarding problem resolution?
  • Can you give me a specific example of how you handled a difficult situation?

Here are some other quick tips that will help improve your experience at the show:

Effective Apps

  • CardMunch—easily transfer contact information to your phone
  • EverNote—take pictures, make notes and be organized when the show ends

On the show floor

  • Wear comfy shoes (and use gel inserts if you can)
  • Hydrate


  • Set your calendar with important events and meetings, use the proper time zone
  • Go to the last day of the show—it’s usually slow so you can have better supplier conversations

I would also say that you should go to bed early and get your rest, but I know you won’t.

Have a great show!

(Suppliers, I haven’t forgotten you—here is a blog I posted about Tips for Tradeshow Exhibitors)