The Trade Show Attendee’s Mind: Let’s Have a Look Inside

A Look Inside the Trade Show Attendee’s Mind

Knowing what your audience wants will boost your show success

Trade shows are a hectic environment. They’re filled with thousands of people scavenging from booth to booth hoping to collect a giant bag full of giveaways. It’s like Trick-or-Treat for adults.

Hidden amongst those thousands of people are your target audience. Your goal is to sift through the masses in order to connect with the maximum number of qualified leads.

Before we can do that though, we need to understand what’s going through the minds of the trade show masses.

Attendees Are Selfish

This is not an attack on the character of trade show attendees. It’s simply human nature that affects all of us. People attending a trade show won’t care what your company has to offer until they’re shown how your company’s product or service can make their life easier.

It all comes back to WIIFM, or “What’s In It For Me.” WIIFM is the ONLY thing that attendees care about. Knowing this fact of human nature can help you shape your trade show marketing strategy for maximum results.

What trade show attendees are thinking

Focus on the Benefits

I see far too many companies focusing on the features of their product or service. Attendees do not care about features. They only care about benefits.

If your trade show presentation includes features, they MUST be followed up with the benefits of that feature!

When planning each stage of your trade show action plan, more on that later, you must constantly be asking yourself, “What’s in it for my clients?” How can your potential clients benefit from what your company has to offer?

Be the Shiny Object

Trade shows have so much going on that it can lead to sensory overload for the attendees. You must find a way to stand out from sea of booths. You must be the shiny object.

We’ll delve more into the logistics of standing out later in the book, but for now, I want you to realize why it’s so important.

We need to give the attendees a reason to stop at your booth instead of at your competitor’s booth. If your booth looks just like every other exhibit on the floor, the attendees won’t have a reason to stop. You will have been lost in the crowd. That must be avoided at all costs.

Give Them What They Want

Let’s get back to WIIFM. One of your goals when attracting people to your booth should be to provide the attendees with a positive experience while avoiding negative experiences.

Let’s take a look at what a positive experience might include:

  • Getting something for free
  • Being entertained
  • Doing something fun
  • Trying something new
  • Seeing something amazing
  • Meeting interesting people
  • Did I mention getting something for free?

Now let’s take a look at what a negative experience might include:

  • Sitting through a boring presentation
  • Not being greeted with a smile
  • Being hard-sold to
  • Being ignored while visiting your booth
  • Being confused (Not understanding how your company can benefit them)

Happy Trade Show Attendees
Unhappy trade show attendees

We need to look at every aspect of our trade show strategy to make sure we’re touching as many positive experiences as possible while avoiding the negatives.

Trade show magician chad chesmark

About the Author

Chad Chesmark is “The Trade Show Guy.” He specializes in making exhibitors shine on the trade show floor with live, interactive and entertaining marketing presentations.

For 16 years, he was also a headlining magician for 5 major cruise lines, including Disney and Royal Caribbean. He combines his speaking & entertainment skills masterfully with a company’s product or message on the trade show floor.

Chad is based in Houston, Texas but performs internationally. He can be reached at:

If you’d like more information on the topic of trade show success, please check out my free eBook, from which this excerpt was taken, “The Ultimate Trade Show Success Guide.”

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