3 Proven Strategies to Increase Sales at a Trade Show

Whether you’re in the home improvement industry or make custom cakes for dogs, there are tons of trade shows, events, and expos in nearly every industry that could help you drive your business. Here are some foolproof ways to boost your results from selling in this type of face to face environment.

1.  Pick the right location, size, and set up for your booth

Location, location, location

When you’re looking for your booth space, you’re technically looking at real estate! When you apply for space at a trade show, you should be given a floor plan outlining each booth location and what is available. If not, ask for one. Keep the following elements in mind as you pick your booth.

  • Typically, people veer right when they enter onto a show floor. Look for the entry doors on the floor plan and use that as your primary point of reference. You will oftentimes get the highest foot traffic in the center, right side of the floor. With that said, always ask the sales representative you are working with where they have seen the most traffic passes through. Every event varies, and they should be able to give you more direction on the best spaces at their particular event. 
  • Stay away from stages or entertainment on the floor. Although they attract people and drive traffic, the noise from the performance will interrupt your sales conversations and make it hard to close a prospect. 
  • Some events give you an option of an indoor or outdoor booth. If you are in a warmer climate, outside is more viable. However, regardless of where you are on the map, be prepared for adversity in the weather. Rain and wind are often the culprits for a wasted event initiative. If you choose to go outside, make sure you have the appropriate outdoor equipment (outdoor extension cords, tent cover, etc.) and that you have giveaways that are applicable to the outdoor setting. For example, have sunglasses as your main premium, and maybe a few branded umbrellas and or ponchos in case the weather takes a turn. 
    • If you are at a Fair, make note that the people hanging out outside are mostly there for the experience. The people that walk into the show floor are there to shop and find deals. You will more often than not have more buyers inside, or in an area with other similar vendors. 


Usually, booth spaces are broken up into segments of about 10 square foot increments. For example, you may have a choice between a 10’x10’ space, 10’x20’ space, 20’x20’ space, etc.

The sweet spot is usually a 10’x20’ space - You have enough frontage (20’) to walk the line (more below), and it’s not quite as expensive as a 20’x20’ booth. 20'x20' space is good for the large sales teams that find themselves having more than 3 sales conversations at once, you can fit more people within the booth and thus, sell more. 

Walking the Line is a sales tactic that will help maximize your results if done consistently and correctly. Walking the line means that a sales representative stands on either end of the frontage line. As people walk by, they walk with them for the full length (20’) of the booth line while trying to engage in conversation. 

It is usually at the very end of the line that a prospective customer will stop to continue the conversation. This tactic works if you have good sales representatives, and if the aisle you are on is less than 10’ wide.


You will have a few options on what your setup could be depending on your location. With each option, you get more open sides facing the aisle. The more open sides you have, the more people you can engage that walk by. Translation - more sales!

  1. Inline Booth - A booth sandwiched between two other booths.
    1. One open side on the front
  2. Corner Booth - A booth at the end of an aisle, with another booth next to and behind you. 
    1. Two open sides on the front and a side
  3. Endcap Booth - A booth at the end of two aisles and caps both aisles.
    1. Three open sides on the front and two sides
  4. Island Booth - A stand-alone booth with an aisle hugging each side.
    1. Four open sides all around the booth


2.  Offer an Event Special 

People buy on impulse 95% of the time. When they are walking by all these interesting vendors, they are going to be swayed by the best deals. After all, most people that attend a show like this are looking for a deal, especially if you are a consumer-facing show. If you are at a B2B show, the same still applies, but not as heavily. 

Make sure you are crystal clear about how exclusive your special offer is, and emphasize that only the people at the event can receive the exclusive offer you are promoting at the event. 

This creates urgency for those who are interested and, of course, FOMO (fear of missing out) for the people who don’t stop to learn more. 


3.  Make sure your event marketing is on point

When you're literally standing your business up next to a handful of others in the same place, you want to stand out. This is where a lasting impression matters! Recommended marketing materials for an event environment are:

  • A Decent Display
    • No one will stop at a skirted table when the booth next to you has a beautiful, custom backdrop.
  • Retractable Banners
    • Keep all your important copy at eye level. No one will be looking down toward the ground to read your message. Your text needs to be in large font directly in someone’s line of sight so they can read your blurb within 2 seconds as they walk by. This is usually a great place to promote your special offer, and it will help draw people into the booth to ask about what you're offering. 
  • Takeaways
    • Brochures - Create a takeaway piece with everything someone would want to know about your products or services, and make sure to list out where they can go to find more (your website, social media, etc.). Make sure to list your contact info
    • Giveaways - Have something on hand to give out to people. It doesn't matter what it is, although, I will say, bags are better than mini chapstick. A bag offers you walking advertisements with your logo on it all over the floor, and other peoples' giveaways will likely go inside of your giveaway. 

These tips should set you up for success, but keep in mind, repetition is what will make you polish your company's strategy. Trial and error will be your best friend, and each time you will increase your ROI from your events. One last piece - make sure to take some type of lead capture with you. Whether that's just a sheet that people write their name and number on, and Excel grid, or a full-on lead generation software. You will likely get 50% more sales in following up with customers after the fact than you will during the event. 


Visit nobleer.com for more tips, tricks, and advice. Good luck at your next event! 

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