Business Tips from Showtime!

A series of Business Tips from the book:Showtime!
By Rob Fortier and Meryl Hooker

Part of your show budget should include updating your sales materials.  Many … companies update and reprint their catalogs in conjunction with a major trade show.
— Rob Fortier and Meryl Hooker

We featured a series of tips on Rob and Meryl’s Showtime! awhile back.  But because it is such an excellent resource and has TONS of great tips, I am doing a second series, starting with this one.

Clean, crisp, up-to-date sales materials are not a luxury, but a must during a trade show.  Dozens, if not hundreds, of buyers will be walking the show, picking up material here and there from booths they find interesting.

Most of these materials, historically, are catalogs and line sheets.  Now days, I see lots of vendors handing our CDs and cheap flash drives with their product information detailed on each digital device.

Even if you use the newest technology to give to your buyers, I still suggest at least a one page color flyer.  A visual hard-copy summary of your products will help jog your buyers memory and prompt them the check out your digital catalog.

Stay tune for more trade show tips from Rob and Meryl …


One of the fun things about trade shows is the cool giveaways.  Everyone loves free stuff; and having something to pass out in your booth can be a relatively low coast way to entice, engage and enroll new customers.
— Rob Fortier and Meryl Hooker

As a gourmet food producer, we gave away food samples at our trade shows.  I represented a company that made ‘Spud Fudge’ (okay, remember I am from Idaho!).  She made up small square samples of her special fudge, we added toothpicks and gave them out to everyone and anyone who came by our booth.

Of course, this will not work for everyone!  But chocolate is always a good incentive for people to come into your booth!

Rob and Meryl suggest having your logo and company name printed up on inexpensive tote bags.  Once a visitor to your booth takes one of your bags, you can fill it with your business card, price sheets, and any other info.  And an extra added bonus is all the free advertising you will get for your booth when other buyers see the tote bags all over the show!!

Of course, there are many other options, like personalized pens, magnets, calendars etc.  Anything you can give a potential buyer to come into your booth or remember you when they get home is a win-win for everyone!


The primary purpose of your booth is to feature your products.  The second is to give a positive impression of your company.
– Rob Fortier and Meryl Hooker

This may seem very obvious, but some trade show vendors can focus too much on the ‘gimmick’ than the reason for their booth!

Typical booths are small:  10 x 10 feet, and you need to use those feet in the best possible way to enhance your products and company.  Excessive furniture and props not only take away from your product, but they are expensive and tedious to transport.

Personally, I would focus on your signage.  A good sign, that includes your logo, company name and maybe tag line, is what most buyers see first.

Depending on your line of products, lightweight shelving is great to showcase lots of products.

Mostly, keep your booth airy and inviting to buyers.


It is no secret that trade shows are hard work, both mentally and physically.  As you get your booth ready to exhibit, take some time to get yourself ready too.
— Rob Fortier and Meryl Hooker

This really hits home for me because when we exhibited in our first trade show, I had NOT taken time for myself:  I had not gotten enough sleep the day before, my health was a bit compromised, and I was not my best self.

Thankfully, we had some help, so I left for a few hours to rest and catch up on some sleep.

It is hard to imagine the toil that a show can take on a person.  After a few hours, you may get tired and sore from smiling so much!!  No, really!!  And if you are really focused, you may forget to bring food or forget to eat it!!

Rob and Meryl suggest treating yourself extra special two weeks before the actual trade show by getting some extra exercise.  Standing for hours can get tiring fast if you are use to sitting at a desk most of the day!

No amount of extra planning can compensate for taking time to rest, eat and hydrate your body.  If you don’t, you may end up crashing mid-show (like I did) or getting sick after the show is over.


When it is quiet, take some time to talk to and get to know the other exhibitors around you.  This is a priceless opportunity to build a network of people who you can help and who can, possibly, help you.
— Rob Fortier and Meryl Hooker

Some of my closest business friends are my competitions.  Yes, you read that correctly!  My competitors are my friends!

At a show, we are all in this together.  Each business is trying their best to gain more buyers, increase each buyers experience, and help their buyers succeed.  And, most importantly, there is room for all of us.

Some of the benefits from working with my fellow exhibitors is gaining new lines for my sales rep business, learning about new stores that may be interested in my lines, learning from the experiences of other vendors …. and the list goes on and on.

Making friends with the vendors on either side of you makes it easier if you need to make a quick run to the ladies room and need someone to watch your booth for a few short minutes.  And I, in turn, did the same for them.  (Of course, there was this one gal who said she’d be right back and I ended up watching her booth for nearly an hour!)

Trade Show Exhibiting Secrets 100As you know, networking can be invaluable, so don’t forget to network with fellow vendors at a trade show.

Are you interested in learning more about exhibiting in trade shows?  Check out my eguide:  Trade Show Exhibiting Secrets!



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