I have found a few things that really make a trade show booth stand out compared to others…

Hardware – People love the hardware. Have quality interesting displays that are easily touched. When a prospect touches the products, the likelihood they will buy from you goes up considerably.

Big smile and friendly demeanor  - People love friendly booth staff. Gregarious outgoing booth staff attract more prospects.

Handshakes – When you touch a prospect (handshake, high 5, shoulder slap, and even a hug) you increase the potential to turn the prospect into a customer.

The touch should not be forced, but should be natural. If you have good rapport with the prospect and you tell them a funny joke, a backslap is acceptable when done correctly. If you really bond, a hug can do wonders, but be very discrimnating with any contact beyond the handshake. Judging proper way to make physical contact is a learned process and I will restate that any touching beyond a handshake must be natural and not forced. Do it wrong, and you lose the prospect.

Laughter – Make them laugh within 30 seconds and they are more likely to purchase from you. Having a staff member with a sense of humor and product knowledge works wonders. My primary goal with ALL booth visitors is to get them smiling and laughing within 30 seconds (15 seconds is better). Not everyone has this ability, but if you have someone on staff that is the life of the party, you might want to have them in your booth making the place lively.

Entertainment – People are drawn to crowds of people and having entertaining staff working the booth keeps interested prospects at your booth listening to your pitch, and the crowds automatically attract additional people.

Create a nice trade show booth “neighborhood” – Get your booth neighbors to like you. Chat them up. Give them free coffee and food. Joke around with them. Share laughter. In the slow times, they will hang out at your booth attracting more visitors.

Video – I am not a big fan of video because I have seen few show visitors watching the videos. They seem cold and impersonal to me, but if used in the proper manner, they may be a good supplement to a well staffed friendly booth. The reality is that I have seen precious few people watching videos on monitors in trade show booths. Typically, people go to shows to see product and people, not watch TV.

Chairs in the booth – I feel that chairs in the booth are not desirable because prospects get a negative impression of seated booth staff, however, a separate meeting room with table and chair in the booth is a good option as long as it is only used for customer meetings. When the meeting is over, stand up and mingle with the crowds again.

Dirty booths – I feel a cluttered dirty booth is a turn off, so keep your coffee cups and computer bags out of sight.

Raffles, games, and giveaways – I have also found that raffles, games, giveaways, etc do attract people, but often they are not quality prospects. I used to work for a manufacturer that had a fun game in the booth that attracted big crowds. We scanned the badges of the participants, but the value of these leads were almost zero. Those that played the game and were good leads would have come to our booth anyway. The crowds that congregated around the game actually impeded the pathways for legit prospects that wanted to talk to a booth staffer.

Backdrops and banners – Banners look cheap.  Much better to use a popup backdrop at the very minimum.  They are pretty inexpensive nowadays and the investment is well worth it over the long run.  Look professional.

Messaging – State your product/service clearly and simply.  Don’t clutter your backdrop with lots of text.  Show visitors rarely read anything other than 2-3 lines from your backdrop.