How to Tell a Story With Your Trade Show Exhibit

How to Tell a Story With Your Trade Show Exhibit

Keep it simple with the three act structure

trade show storytelling marketing

One of the keys to generating business at a trade show is to create a positive experience for your booth guests. An easy way to do this is to think of your exhibit as a story in three acts or three parts.


The three-act structure has, arguably, been around since the time of Aristotle and is still implemented today. Why? Because it works.


Stories, movies, TV shows, jokes and live presentations can generally be broken down into three parts. For movies and TV, it’s the beginning, the middle, and the end. For plays, its Act I, Act II, and Act III. For jokes, it’s the topic, the angle, and the punchline.


For some “magical” reason, things seem to happen in threes. Need more examples? No problem. How about:


3 Stooges, 3 Blind Mice, 3 Little Pigs, 3 Minute Egg, 3 Feet in a yard, 3 Ring Circus, 3 Wise Men, 3 Strikes You’re Out, 3 Musketeers, 3 Laws of Motion, etc. Can you think of any that I missed? Feel free to list in the comments.


Granted, a trade show is a different beast, but if you want your booth to tell a story, it should still encompass three phases. They are the three C’s.


Create a crowd, Convey the message, and Collect the leads.
The Three C’s are commonly utilized by trade show infotainers, such as myself, and was conceived by trade show marketing legend Joel Bauer.


The Three C’s will allow you to have a simple outline of action when composing your trade show objectives. Let’s dive into each one and see how they can help improve your booth efficiency.

Create the Crowd


The trade show floor can be, and SHOULD BE if you’ve done your research, filled with a goldmine of potential prospects. The tricky part is getting as many of those potential clients to visit your booth in the first place.


In order to do this, you’ll need to have, not just an exhibit, but an exhibit ATTRACTION. Attendees need a reason to stop by your booth. With hundreds of possibilities and a limited amount of time, your best leads might simply walk on by. So give them a reason to stop.


Some exhibitors think that simple chachkies are enough. Giveaways are great, but they don’t STOP an aisle walker long enough to hear your message. Many attendees run from booth to booth playing a game of grab-and-go.


Trade show presenter creating a crowd

You need to have something that will not only capture their attention but also HOLD it. This is where games, entertainment, and demonstrations come into play.


The Bigger the Crowd the Better
 at this point in your three-act performance, don’t worry about attracting ONLY qualified leads to your booth. There’s no time for that. If you’re only focussed on drawing your ideal clients, you’re going to end up falling short.


Think of it like this. Imagine 100,000 stones (representing the attendees) where 2,000 of those stones are gold nuggets (representing your ideal prospects). It’s much more effective to sift through 1,000 stones at a time, rather than sorting through each stone one by one.


The more people that you can attract to your booth the better. The next of the three C’s is where we’ll sift through the crowd and begin to pre-qualify them.

Convey the Message


Now that you have a good sized crowd gathered around your booth, it’s time to convey your company’s message. Your key product or service bullet points need to be shared with the group.


Ideally, the presentation will be mixed in throughout some form of entertainment. That way, the crowd will have a reason to stick around while being informed.


You can pre-qualify your leads by working targeted questions into the presentation. For example: Ask the crowd to raise their hand if they could benefit from X and Y products or services.


Your sales team should pay attention to those who raised their hands so they’ll know where to focus their attention following the presentation.

Sign on microphone saying Convey the Message

Collect the Leads


At the end of the entertainment, game, or presentation, there MUST be a call to action! Tell the crowd exactly what you’d like them to do so that they don’t have to think about it. Don’t assume that they’ll automatically know your plan.


If you do have premiums or giveaways, tell them where to go, and who to talk to, in order to receive it. This is a great time to scan badges, ask further qualifying questions, make connections, and turn them into customers.

Collect Leads at trade show

By making sure you’ve incorporated all of The Three C’s into you exhibition, you should see a rise in your booth efficiency. By thinking of your exhibit in terms of a story, you make it easier for your audience to experience your entire booth marketing system.

I’d love to hear the different, and unique ways, of utilizing The Three C’s that you’ve found most effective in your own exhibiting endeavors in the comments.

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Trade Show Infotainer Chad Chesmark

About the Author

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

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