The best trade show giveaways are within
Q&A with Steve Cain
It's trade show season again, so I've been
hearing many questions and comments on this theme lately:
Question: We are getting ready to exhibit at a local
trade show. Many people attend the show and we want to promote our educational
programs. Can you give us some tips on how we can compete with the big
exhibitors who have expensive giveaways?
Answer: I once read that the most desired giveaway
at trade shows is information. While Purdue Extension cannot award new
cars or cash prizes, we do have the most important giveaway of all: knowledge.
When people go to a trade show, some are enticed by the thought of prizes,
but many go to learn, ask questions, or examine what's available. Here
are 10 tips to make your booth stand out to visitors.
- Match the information you provide as closely as you can to the show's
theme. This means knowing the audience and tailoring your message to
- Before the show, announce that you have important information to
give away. Prepare radio and newspaper public service announcements
and invite listeners to visit. Be sure to include your booth number
- Give show visitors all the energy you can. If possible, don't work
at the booth the entire day, every day of the show. Trade show professionals
know that two to four hours is the maximum a person can effectively
work and smile while greeting hundreds of visitors.
- Don't sit down. Stand at the edge of your booth and make eye contact
with each visitor you can. Say, “Hello.” Invite visitors
into the booth area to learn more about your best information. You
could ask, “Would you like free information on (your informational
- Assuming you have an existing tabletop display and access to a color
printer, be sure to keep your display up to date by using current photos
and information. Larger photos — 8.5 inches by 10 inches or 11
inches by 14 inches — enhance displays. Use two to three images
per panel. Keep wording to a minimum. You only have seconds to capture
the visitor's attention. Use the few words you have to ask a critical
question or make a statement that gives them the information they need.
Put detailed information in a handout. Use “free” with
informational fliers that fit the theme. Don't make excuses that it's
only free information. It's more than that. Remember, information is
the Number One reason the visitor is at the show.
- Brand Purdue Extension. Be sure visitors see the name in big bold
letters on the display. Make sure they understand that Purdue Extension
has information relevant to their needs. For branding tips, see the Purdue
Extension Marketing Web site.
- Have business cards or appropriate contact information so visitors
can follow up with you. And don't be shy about collecting names. For
people who want more information, have a sign-up sheet for a direct
mailer or for your newsletter. More information about newsletters are
available on the Purdue
Extension Communication Survival Guide and Purdue
Extension Marketing Web sites.
Steve Cain, email@example.com
Do you want On Target to cover a topic that interests you?
E-mail your ideas to Kevin Leigh