Trade shows are a unique form of marketing — you’re exposed, out in the open with dozens of potential customers within earshot at any given time. You might goof around or badmouth your competitors at the office, but you’ve got to be on your best behavior at a trade show — one unflattering remark can prove disastrous.

What you say to visitors can have a huge impact on the success of your trade show. Say the wrong thing and you may not only potentially lose a lead, but establish yourself as an uncouth, unprofessional brand. No one is going to visit a booth or buy from a brand that can’t communicate in a respectful, courteous manner.

Take our advice and refrain from uttering the following at your next trade show. Say any of these and you’ll look inept at best and offensive at worst.

“Our competitors stink.”

Want to sound like a jerk and alienate trade show visitors in one fell swoop? Badmouth the competition! Trade shows are supposed to be a positive, energetic showcase of the best your industry has to offer. Trashing your competition is unprofessional and makes you look desperate in the eyes of your target customer. Highlight the positives of your brand and leave the competition out of it. Your positive energy will rub off on your booth visitors and you’ll have a much better shot at acquiring real leads.



When visitors show up to your booth, you’ve got to be on you’re A-game, and that includes knowing your product, industry, and the needs of your customers inside and out. You don’t want to look incompetent or like you know less than your potential customers, do you? Make sure you and your staff are well-informed and can provide trade show visitors with the right answers. Study up and you’ll come off as a knowledgeable industry leader.

“I’ll be with you in ten minutes.”


Trade shows are busy and overwhelming, but you knew that when you signed up. You can’t afford to shush people off just because you happen to feel bogged down. Taking an extended period of time to attend to trade show visitors is a trade show faux pas. Leave visitors waiting too long and they’ll likely move on to another booth. Do your best to connect with each attendee in as little time as possible. If this means having to hire additional staff, then so be it.

“We’re really awesome and we have a really awesome product and, did I tell you how awesome WE are?”

Sure, you exhibit at trade shows to market your product/service, but you’re not there simply to talk about your brand and how amazing you are. Like any good marketer, your job is to appeal to the customer and address his needs. When someone visits your booth, do your best to talk about how you can help him, not how amazing your brand is. Do more listening than talking and you’ll make trade show visitors feel valued.

“Wow, we partied hard last night.”


Trade shows often take place in big cities with tons of possibilities in terms of nightlife and away-from-the-office shenanigans. You might have had an amazing time at the bar last night, but you better not boast about it at your booth. In order to convince and convert trade show attendees, you need to come off as professional and “with it” as possible. Bring up last night’s bar crawl and you’ll appear just the opposite. If you have something you must share, keep it away from the booth where clients can overhear you – someplace like the plane ride home. Keep booth talk to your brand and your customers’ needs and you’ll be a success.

What are some of the worst things you’ve heard at trade shows? Let us know in the comment section below.