3 Critical Principles for Generating More Trade Show Booth Traffic

June 25, 2019

Mike Duseberg

Mike Duseberg is the founder of TradeShowFunnel.comDedicated to helping exhibitors connect with more qualified prospects, Mike is fascinated by measurable, accountable and profitable trade show marketing.

Most trade show booth traffic is passive.People passing the booth recognize the company name and look to see whats new.Others recognize the equipment on display and decide they want to learn more.

Exhibitors who rely on passive traffic alone, however, miss out on a huge number of qualified prospects who simply don’t “see” their booth or actively choose to ignore it. 

Expert exhibitors know maximizing the number of qualified leads they get from each show means actively attracting traffic to their booth and enticing qualified buyers into the booth to meet the booth team.

So how do you draw traffic to the booth? 

Principle 1: Lead with the outcome

At WEFTEC, a lot of companies are selling pumps. They have pumps on display. The message they are communicating is come in here and let us sell you a pump.” If you want to buy a pump, its persuasive.But it could be better.  

We all know the old marketing cliché: people dont want to buy drills, they want holes.In fact, what they really want is to hang a picture on the wall. So, if you insist on leading with a product message, lead with the outcome the prospect wants: lower energy costs (save money), better reliability (lower cost of ownership, ease of use) or electronic monitoring (saving time, saving effort, maybe even working from home”). 

The outcome message must always connect to what the actual person in the aisle at the show wants. Reduced energy costs” might attract a CFO at a show for real estate firms, but ease of use” will attract the maintenance professional visiting the facilities conference.  

Principle 2: Lead with something interesting

Leading with a product demonstration is a great way to stop traffic because people like to see things work.They like to see automatic welding machines, remote controlled equipment, etc.

The classic product pitchfor kitchen tools like juicers and knives is effective because people in the aisle see the outcome, and they visualize themselves using the product. Heres the original pitch for the ShamWOW– even while watching on YouTube, you kinda want to buy one… 

After a good B2B product demonstration, people should have questions. They want to know more: How will it work in their business? How much does it cost? Whats the delivery time? Whats the product lifespan?These questions lead the prospect engage the sales team; in fact, they are literally qualifying themselves and asking to schedule follow up calls.

Principle 3: Lead with something fun

For over 40 consecutive years, Exhibit Surveys has reported that live performers and demonstrations are the most powerful way to build traffic on the trade show floor.  

Ironically, performers work well because they dont use a product message to attract the crowd. People in the aisle are intrigued by the excitement, mystery and fun, and they enjoy the diversion from the usual look at my stuff” experience that most booths offer. 

In fact, the entertainment disarms the audience and makes them more open and receptive to the business message. By integrating the message into the show, the prospects are actually learningabout the product while theyre being entertained.  

Just like a product demonstration, the prospects should have questions at the end of the show, and they qualify themselves to the sales team when they come into the booth and ask for more information.  

You Must Be Active

If the pundits are correct and business conditions will weaken in 2020, actively attracting prospects to your booth will become more important than ever. More companies are exhibiting at more shows, and the increase in total square footage sold indicates that the show floor is more competitive than ever before.

Exhibitors will need to make a memorable connection with booth visitors, position their sales team as trusted advisors, and avoid commoditization to close sales and defend price integrity. 


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Visit Dallas is thrilled to announce the approval of a 2.5 million square-foot convention center with 800,000 square feet of exhibit space and 300,000 square feet of breakout area, including 160,000 square feet of ballroom. “This news is a game changer for Dallas and will put our city on the map as the preeminent large-city convention and meeting destination in the nation,” said Craig Davis, Visit Dallas President & CEO.