how to engage customers at a trade show

Trade shows can offer some of the most lucrative opportunities of any marketing activity. No other activity puts you in the same place as so many potential customers, who are all in buying mode. But standing out from the crowd at a trade show isn’t always easy.

You are surrounded by other stands, all vying for attention, which means you need to differentiate yourself in order to get noticed. But how can you do this? In this article, we look at the steps you can take to increase your trade show engagement with customers.

How Can I Improve Trade Show Engagement?

You can improve trade show engagement by considering the following 7 things:

  • Choose your location carefully
  • Impressive stand design
  • Provide an incentive to approach your stand
  • Reward interaction
  • Be welcoming
  • Ask questions
  • Keep it personal


The first thing to consider when improving trade show engagement is the location of your stand. You need to book a space that will receive a lot of attention, so being in a corner on the back wall isn’t going to do you any favours. Locating near areas that get a lot of traffic is a good idea, so busy intersections, near restaurants or toilets.

Being close to, but not actually by, the entrance can work – people will want to move away from the busy entrance quickly but will then look around. Try to find out where the main industry players are positioned, as they will be a magnet for the crowds. If possible, try and get a spot close to then, as you can benefit from this, as long as your stand doesn’t look insignificant next to theirs.


Another way to improve trade show engagement is through impressive exhibition stand design. You need an eye-catching stand to catch the attention of customers at a trade show. Include graphics and text large enough to be read across the hall. Don’t overdo the amount of text, as this will put off potential customers from reading it, and this will make your stand look too busy.

Think about exhibition lighting – don’t rely on what is supplied by the organiser – clever use of spotlights can highlight areas of your stand and people are naturally drawn to light. Another way to stand out is to be taller than your neighbours. Include high-level branding in your stand or have hanging signs.

Make sure there are no barriers to entry on your stand, as it needs to appear welcoming. If you are having a desk, keep it to one side. You need to make sure the exhibition space flows well and there is room for people to move around. Having tables and chairs or sofas where people can relax for a few minutes is a good idea, as exhibitions are tiring, but keep them to the back of the stand.

9xb exhibition stand design for a trade show. Two Open Sides. High Level Branding: Lighting, photo-floor, counters, tv

9xb Exhibition Stand


Providing an incentive to approach your stand is another great way to improve exhibition engagement. You need to give customers a reason to engage with you and your exhibition stand. Demonstrate your product if possible, or allow visitors to interact with your products, as people are much more likely to buy products they can touch.

Have interactive elements on your stand such as iPads, this will not only give visitors something to see but also automate the lead capture process. Audiovisual equipment will also attract attention. Use it to run videos of your products in action. Some exhibitors even have a celebrity on their stands to attract attention, or a magician.

Think about having some branded merchandise to hand out, everyone loves a freebie. Just try to think of something that people will use, like a memory stick or reusable coffee cup. These will not only attract customers to your stand, but also keep your brand fresh in their minds for months to come, maintaining a long term engagement from your exhibition stand.

Kuklink exhibition booth design for an event. Three Open Sides. High Level Branding: Lighting, photo-floor, counters, tv

Kuflink Exhibition Stand


Interaction is also a fundamental part of improving engagement on your stand. A great example would be running a competition where visitors can win a prize in return for their details. Make sure the prize is worth it, for instance, an iPad or something similar. You could also have a special offer that new customers who sign up at the show can claim.


Engagement can further improve at your exhibition stand if you and your trade show booth staff are welcoming. In particular, pay attention to the body language of your stand staff, as looking bored or tired will not engage customers. Staff should look enthusiastic and welcoming at all times.

Sitting behind a desk, using mobile phones to scan social media, eating or chatting amongst themselves will put visitors off approaching your stand. Make sure you have enough staff to allow for regular breaks, as it can be hard work being engaging all the time, and this will give them time to recharge.


To engage with visitors, ask them about themselves and their requirements. A dreary monologue about your products will turn people away, and you could lose out on potential leads. You need to come across as friendly and approachable, so try to be more original and engaging whilst at your exhibition stand than opening with the line “How can I help you?”.


Potential customers want to engage as a person, so listen carefully to them and keep the conversation natural. Don’t just reel off facts and figures, and remember that although another customer might have liked one aspect of your product, this may not appeal to everyone.

In order to maximise your engagement, you should treat each visitor as an individual and find out their requirements. Include personal anecdotes that will humanise you and the business and engage people better.

JD Cooling Systems exhibiting at Produce Industry Fair 2018


Trade show engagement is all about standing out from the competition whilst looking and behaving in a welcoming manner to exhibition visitors. By paying attention to your stand design, what you do on the stand and the manner of your staff will all help to engage customers effectively and generate a good ROI.

At Quadrant2Design we are leaders in exhibition stand design, creating modular exhibition stands, custom exhibition stands and more. Contact us to find out.