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A while back I attended that Natural Products Expo West on behalf of the Kids with Food Allergies Foundation. I spent over 11 hours on the trade show floor talking to vendors about their new allergy-friendly foods so that, as I explained to these vendors, I could publicize their products in a free report that would be distributed to the organization’s 25,000 members.

Believe it or not, there were a few vendors who couldn’t be bothered to talk to me! I guess free publicity to an extremely loyal target audience just didn’t appeal to them. The lesson here: Whether you’re exhibiting at a trade show or sitting in your office, when opportunity knocks, don’t turn it away.


Exhibiting at a trade show is usually a major investment. In addition to the exhibitor’s fees you may also incur costs for booth design, signage, literature, free samples, promotional items emblazoned with your logo, travel and more. Even having a table at a local business expo can get costly! Here are some tips to help you maximize your trade show investment:

  • Send Invitations – Let your existing customers know where to find you at the show, and give them a chance to take advantage of your “show special” even if they won’t be there.

  • Announce What You Do – Attendees walking the aisles are trying to guess which booths have vendors that can meet their needs. If they can’t quickly determine what it is that you’re offering, they’re likely to keep walking.

  • Keep an Open Mind – While you might have particular goals for your trade show experience, you never know what opportunities might present themselves. For example, take the time to talk to reporters, whose positive write-ups can create enormous demand for your products.
  • Be Approachable – Smile, make eye contact, and don’t be so busy talking with your team members that potential customers feel ignored. And be sure that everyone working your booth knows your products and services inside/out.  
  • Get the Badge Reader – Pay to get the device that can quickly scan the bar codes on your booth visitors’ name tags. You’ll look cheap – and perhaps too new/small to meet my needs – if you don’t make the investment.
  • Bring Plenty of Literature – Attendees may talk to dozens of vendors, and their minds will turn to mush by the end of the day. When they get back to the office they need something tangible to remind them why they’re interested in your company. Be sure your literature includes product descriptions, order instructions and contact information.


What Others Are Saying

"Each time I work with Linda, I am reminded just how well she understands marketing. Linda understands the principles of marketing on a psychological level. She sees the bigger picture. She is pragmatic, insightful and incredibly fast."

Kristine Putt,
Owner and Brand Identity Designer, Paragon Moon