When you exhibit at a trade show you participate in a wonder of free enterprise.  Competing companies agree to present themselves side-by-side allowing potential buyers’ simultaneous access to a multitude of choices.

Exhibition marketing requires a willingness to face your competition head-on in the exhibition hall.  Yet you have much more competition for visitor attention than just your fellow exhibitors.

Here are 6 competitors you must beat to fully engage your clients and prospects at trade shows:

  1. 1.   Your Industry Competitors

While you expect to compete with other companies in your industry, your competitors can actually be helping you, too.  Their marketing efforts lure more prospects into the show hall, expanding the potential universe of buyers for your product category.  Some confident exhibitors even seek a booth space close to their bigger competitors to draft off their booth traffic.  To win these head-to-head match ups, make sure your trade show booth clearly articulates what makes you better.

  1. 2.   Time

Time pressed attendees are less likely to visit every aisle in the show hall.  Combat this by:

  • Getting booth space in the highest traffic sections of the show hall, usually in the centre and to the left of the main entrance
  • Reaching out to attendees before the show to set appointments
  • Teaching booth staff to quickly qualify and release unqualified booth visitors
  • Offer prizes daily in your booth that qualified prospects will want


  1. 3.   The Office

Even at a show attendees are still distracted by their urgent issues from work.  To gain their full attention, bring new products and hold engaging demonstrations that attendees can’t experience in their office.

“The Office” can also distract your booth staff, so make sure your staff are aware of the considerable marketing investment the show is for your company and its potentially huge marketing value depending on the level of their efforts.

  1. 4.   Conference Sessions

How many times has a trade show attendee told you they couldn’t stop or couldn’t stay long on your booth because they were rushing to an educational session?  Fight fire with fire.  If attendees come to your show to learn offer them valuable new research reports or host your own educational presentations in your trade show display.

  1. 5.   Other media

Even while attending trade shows, your prospects are enticed to consume other forms of media, from their iPhone, BlackBerry or laptop.  So launch an integrated marketing campaign during the show, reminding them via email, text and social media why they should visit you in your booth.

  1. 6.   Their Family

Trade show attendees are people first, buyers second.  While away from home they miss their families.  That’s why some exhibitors provide giveaways that are specifically meant for visitors’ kids rather than attendees themselves.

Now that you know who your true trade show competitors are, you can formulate strategies that garner more attention from your clients and prospects – and increase your trade show success.


Have you got any thoughts on trade show competition? Post your comments below.

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