OK, I know a lot of people write about this, but the tips haven’t taken. So here are my imperatives when setting up a booth and working a conference:

Make sure the banner behind you says something that will cause people to talk to you.
You must grab the attention of passersby and then rope them in. That’s why you’re there! Even if what you say makes no sense, that’s better than just having your name up there. Conference goers will walk past the best-known brand because they think they already know all about it. Those banners cost money, might as well put them to good use.


Unless you frequent many of these events throughout the year, or you're in the business of out-sized printing or conference booth creation (in which case yours had better be swell!), it’s just not worth pouring valuable resources into a box most people won’t remember and that does not by itself cause a potential customer to buy from you. Catchy and compelling are more important than swank or comprehensive.


Don’t hide behind your table at your booth.
Why go if not to engage as many people as possible and collect their contact information so you can pitch to them later? Get out into the flow of traffic and hand things out. Be aggressive. This isn’t the prom; it’s a sales conference!


Hand out branded swag or just give out your collateral.
Don’t hand out tiny beach balls with just your logo on them – the small children and dogs who may end up playing with them don’t read and probably aren’t your target customers. This year’s top item seems to be an electronics cleaning cloth folded into a clear plastic business card holder. Not bad, but how many does one need? And the cloth with your branding on it will probably get lost long before the cardholder without your branding on it, which is useless to you by itself. Please make sure what you give people reminds them about your business every time they use it, which they will do over and over again.


Standing all day is rough.Bring a chair…and another person
Make sure there is more than one of you to man your booth, even if your counterpart is your cousin or an intern who knows nothing. At least you will have coverage while you sit down for a moment under your incredibly curious, confusing, fascinating backdrop.


Don’t leave your area unattended.
That is silliest thing I’ve ever seen! If you have must leave, and your extra body is AWOL, make sure to leave something compelling, fascinating and unforgettable in your stead. When I see an unattended booth, I think:

  • These people don’t care about securing my business
  • Maybe I should set up shop while they’re gone and sell my own stuff.


To recap:

Don’t break the bank, be creative, get people’s attention any way you can – standing on your head is fine as long as your wardrobe can take it - and play the long game. That includes contacting EVERYONE you meet within a week. That’s why you went, right?