White Paper: What Attendees Tell Us About Best Exhibiting Practices

April 30, 2012

Editor's Note: Mike Thimmesch and Joyce McKee will be giving a TSNN Webinar - "Getting More Leads and Making Them Count" May 24 at 1pm - sign up here:


A newly published white paper by Marketech reveals what 3,341 trade show attendees, in interviews held at 30 events, said caused them to visit trade show exhibits. Skyline has sponsored this new research report and made it available free to exhibitors, who can get a copy by requesting it here.

The Value Of People, Product, and Promotions in Attracting Visitors to Trade Show Booths

Attendees gave their primary reasons for visiting trade show displays, and when the answers are grouped, you can see that people, product, and promotions are key in getting attendees into your exhibit:

Product:  The number one reason given to enter a trade show booth was to obtain product information (32 percent). Add product demo (11 percent) and you get to 43 percent of booth visitors interested in product.  So being ready to help attendees to learn about your products is paramount.

Promotion:  There are several reasons for visiting a booth that can be grouped under promotion:  Giveaway (17 percent), in booth activity (11 percent), refreshments / hospitality (8 percent), ad / promotion (5 percent), and invitation (1 percent).  Those add up to 42 percent of respondents. So consider this – does your promotion budget equal 42 percent of your trade show budget? Probably less – so promotions are worth the investment.

People:  Attendees said they visited booths because of the greeter (13 percent), product demo (that a person usually does!) (11 percent) and to see a rep (10 percent), which adds up to 34 percent of interested attendees. Thus, the people that you choose to staff your booth truly matter.

Other findings from the study:

  • Sponsorships and ads do increase brand awareness among trade show attendees, but do little to increase booth visitation.  If the goal is to get leads, then sponsorship appears to be the wrong promotional tool.
  • Pre-show promotions are key in getting attendees to the booth, as only 20 percent said they visited because of “happenstance.”
  • Giveaways and greeters are effective investments for driving booth traffic.

Trade show booths are the intersection of people, product and promotion, and all are essential in attracting attendees.

The Incredible Value of a Proactive Booth Staffer

When asked who started the interaction between them and the booth staffer, attendees said that 89 percent of the engagements were started by the rep. So without booth staffers that engage visitors, exhibitors will get far, far poorer results.

To Influence Attendees to Buy, Help Them Learn

Marketech believes this is the key takeaway from this research report:  There was a strong correlation between learning from an exhibitor and being more inclined to buy from them.  For example, when an attendee learns something new, they were 27 percent more inclined to buy from the exhibitor, but if they did not learn something new, they were only 6 percent more inclined to buy from the exhibitor. An attendee who learns from you is more likely to become your client.

But it has to be relevant learning, cautions Marketech:  “Identifying the visitor’s agenda and speaking to it must be one of the most important elements in preparing a staff to work an event. Otherwise, the exhibit staff is merely delivering an information dump that does not achieve either party’s objectives and is a waste of time.”

Other “Best Practices” Recommendations for Exhibitors:

  • Create a reason for attendees to put you on their “must see” trade show list
  • Ask your sales reps to invite their customers and prospects
  • Be sure to train your staff to best engage with attendees
  • Create a learning environment in your exhibit to drive purchasing behavior, and be creative in transforming known information into something new
  • Teach technicians to mention your brand name while they do demonstrations to increase memorability with attendees
  • Pay attention to non-customers and influencers, too, because they can spread the word to buyers, too
  • Increase memorability with hands-on demos

The size of this study – based on over 3,000 interviews – gives you an unprecedented body of experience to help you enhance your trade show program. There’s great advice here, especially about drawing in attendees with product info, promotions, and the right people, and about creating a true learning environment to make attendees more likely to buy from you.

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