3 Ways to Avoid Being Invisible on the Trade Show Floor

I recently read an article in Newsweek about being invisible in different cities around the globe by just fitting in with the locals, in the way you dress and behave.

This triggered a thought about how most exhibitors display themselves at trade shows. They have similar booth displays, bland and often uninteresting graphics and an array of stuff that is simply blah!  In other words, there’s very little that jumps out at the visitor with the message “Notice Me!”

Walking down the aisle as an attendee, these exhibits blend into nothingness, and are quite simply, seem to wear the invisibility mantel with pride.  This begs the question, “is this really the role you want to play when you invest serious marketing dollars to be at the show?”

Here are three ideas to consider if you decide you want to be noticed:

1.  Be different.

Next time you’re at a show, either as an exhibitor or as an attendee, check out the sameness around you.  Ask yourself, “what would it take to be different in this industry environment?” “What would help you stand out from the crowd?”

Recently, a coaching client of mine exhibited at a local expo.  As a first-time exhibitor we discussed ideas that would have the company stand “head and shoulders” above the competition.  Being in the property maintenance business, they decided to use live shrubbery creatively to arouse attendee curiosity. It worked extraordinarily well, and they captured more leads than they’d planned for.

2. Break the rules.

In your quest to be different, take your ideas and experiment with different approaches. Can you add to it or take something away?  Challenge the norms, break the rules and allow yourself to be zany, crazy and off-the-wall.  Read Roger von Oech’s “Whack on the Side of the Head,” to help get those creative juices flowing.

3. Think like a kid.

Children have an innate gift of bizarre ways of looking at things. Somewhere along the way we lost that gift and replaced it with average vanilla thinking, and duplication of what others do.  Typically, the thought process is, “if it works for them, it’ll work for us.” Sameness is boring.

Invite a few five year olds to look at your ideas, and work on helping you create something completely different. You might need to adapt their ideas, but, their way of looking at things could definitely get you out of your “box-like” thinking.

To rid yourself of that invisibility mantle, keep your overall goal in mind: “How can we be different, stand out from the crowd, and be noticed, so that visitors will stop, take interest, and ultimately, buy what we have to offer?”

The Tradeshow Show is open 24/7 – come in and look around!

Susan Friedmann, CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, internationally recognized exhibit marketing expert working with companies to increase their profitability at trade shows. Author: “Riches in Niches: How to Make it BIG in a small Market,” “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Target Marketing,” “Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies” and many other titles. For more great information on trade show marketing strategies that work, and for a complimentary copy of “Exhibiting Success,” visit http://www.thetradeshowcoach.com. Click to download the “Riches in Niches” app.


2 Responses to “3 Ways to Avoid Being Invisible on the Trade Show Floor”

  1. Susan,

    I couldn’t agree more with you. I talk with companies everyday about how to stick out from the crowd and get noticed by prospects. What I have found is that some companies are afraid to be different. Their corporate culture is of the opinion that they don’t want to “rock the boat”. They feel that if they try to hard to attract qualified prospects they’ll look desperate.
    Has anyone else encountered that type of resistance?

  2. You are right about the effectiveness of being different or using a theme that is intriguing. And If you need too, you can be very creative even with a small budget. I would go as far as taking into account the time of the year or the region where is the show when developing a concept for your kiosk. Once you gave a reason for the visitors to connect with you, it makes your job on the floor so much easier


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