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Trade show sales: The art of the “soft sell”



There is a direct correlation between the effectiveness of an exhibit and the level of meaningful engagement that occurs at a show. Exhibit Surveys, Inc. uses a measurement called “exhibit efficiency” to gauge meaningful interactions, such as face-to-face communication, participation in demonstrations and requests for follow-up. It identifies numerous factors that impact this measure, including the ratio of personnel to audience, the number of demos available and the quality and performance of those demos. In other words, making participants out of your visitors.If you’re looking for additional ways to increase your exhibit efficiency to more fully engage your audience, keep reading.Turn attendees into participants

Global Experience Specialists (GES) Chief Sales Officer Jeff Quade describes turning attendees into active participants as having a “bottom-up” dynamic. He says, “Attendees aren’t passively sitting at events watching a talking head … [they] are demanding a greater say and expect active engagement.” Here are some tactics you can use to satisfy their needs:

  • Use social walls: Social walls, such as Tweetwall or Hashcaster, display real-time feeds based on pre-specified topics, people and discussions. These platforms provide numerous engagement opportunities and are capable of filtering out unwanted tweets, retweets and other clutter, making them a great source for relevant industry- and event-specific communication. A recent review of Tweetwall states it can increase engagement by 30 percent.
  • Encourage demos: Remember, quality demonstrations are one of the top ways to increase your exhibit efficiency. Demos should excite, entice and be cutting edge. During demos, try engaging the surrounding crowd with quiz questions. Reward prizes, such as a USB car charger or a phone stand, for correct answers. Thank those who participate by entering them into a prize draw for a Bluetooth® keyboard or speakers.
  • Gamify your exhibit: Who doesn’t love a game? Gamification of your exhibit or demonstration can increase both participation and engagement by appealing to people’s desire for quick rewards, status and achievement. Scavenger hunts that utilize quick response (QR) codes or Q&A apps are great ways to add a gaming element to your booth. Just don’t forget to display results on large screen, real-time leaderboards to tap the competitiveness of your participants. Winner takes all—or at least a Game Changer Bluetooth® Watch or a 7-in-1 gameboard.

Remember, those who attend your event aren’t necessarily engaged in it. Try one or all of these ideas at your next show—you may just make a participant out of an attendee.


All-Show Averages.Exhibit Surveys Inc. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 17 Mar. 2015.

Quade, Jeff. “Turning Attendees into Participants.TSNN Trade Show News. N.p., 09 Jan. 2015. Web. Retrieved 17 Mar. 2015.

Colebeck, Margaret. “Engaging Trade Show Attendees with Tweetwall.Vantage Advertising. N.p., 31 Oct. 2014. Web. Retrieved 17 Mar. 2015.

5 Ways to Engage Your Tradeshow Audience.” Vinyl Art. N.p., 05 Feb. 2015. Web. Retrieved 17 Mar. 2015.



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