Trade Show TalesBlog

What’s Your Trade Show Kryptonite?

August 19th, 2015 4 COMMENTS


X-Ray Vision

We shouldn’t but we do. We hope that the next attendee who walks in our booth is Superman. Not Superman Superman, but the sales equivalent of Superman. Faster to sign a contract than a speeding bullet. More powerful than the VP of Purchasing. Able to leap over objections in a single bound. We yearn for Superman (or Superwoman) to enter our trade show booth space.

Yet, we place kryptonite everywhere in sight so Superman veers away (no doubt into the arms of our evil nemesis — Super Savvy SalesPerson). What did we do wrong? Well, let’s eliminate the easy mistakes, the ones so obvious that his X-ray vision saw them three aisles over.

Frenchy Fry Me: Nothing says no-loving like a staffer hunched over lo mein, a cheeseburger, or chicken nuggets with honey mustard in your booth. And, yes, I did see you wipe your hands on your pants.

Kryptonite-TSFive-Second Text: Baby-boomer, GenX, or millennial. Doesn’t matter. You can’t start a conversation if you never start a conversation. It gives new meaning to — “Hey buddy, my eyes are up here!”

The Quickie:  Good choice. A vinyl graphic hanging on the pipe and drape. Perfect if you’re pitching hairball chews at the local cat show. Otherwise, it says, “I’m living in a van down by the river.”

The Berlin Wall: The banquet table is your best friend at a hobby or arts and crafts fair. Take the same approach at a trade show and expect to catch up on your texting and Facebook posts at the show.

I Don’t: Got there late. Left early. Spent most of the time flirting with the woman on the next aisle.

Concrete Cal:  No flooring. Or padding. Or orders.

Clowns10 Clowns in a Car: How nice! The entire sales team is here. Except this isn’t a rave party, a tailgater, or a celebrity sighting. “No thanks. I’ll take the next less-crowded elevator.”

Maximus: “Just give me 5 minutes to find it. I know it’s here somewhere. I swear I just saw it. Here it is! Nope, that’s not it.”

Love Me Some Swag in the Booth: Selfie sticks, pens, water bottles, shopping bags, phone chargers, tech tools, lip gloss, exercise band, calculator, hand sanitizer. ‘Hey kids, Daddy went to a trade show.”

Mystery Date:  “I’ll give you three guesses what my company does. Want a hint? Another hint? Starts with the letter G. See the display on the corner with the hanging sign. We do what they do.”

Turn Me On:  Day 1. “Anybody know how to launch the video or turn on the tablet?” Day 2. “Did anyone charge the tablet or bring the thumb drive?” Day 3. “I don’t know. We think they’re broken.”

Don’t be the only person at the show not wearing an “S” (for sales superstar). Get rid of the exhibit krytonite and you’re guaranteed to attract a Superman (or two or three) to your booth.

Got any other kryptonite no no’s? Please share in the comments.

–Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or


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4 Responses to “What’s Your Trade Show Kryptonite?”

  1. g Camarato says:

    Always entertaining Mel!

    Exhibitors may hope for a Super Man or Super Women, but they are more likely to run into WonderWomen (or i guess wonder man)
    “I wonder what they do?”
    “I wonder why we should consider buying from them?”
    “I wonder who to contact?”

    Having a value based sales plan for the exhibit staff might be to turn a Wonder into a Super
    Easier said than done.

    I was talking to an old pro yesterday and too often an exhibit purchaser is focused on the wrong things, like how much room they need to hold promotional items instead of segmenting booth traffic of targeted guests. Designers need to understand the overall plan as much as they need to know you need a spot to lock up your briefcase and laptop. Share as much about the marketing goal when building the exhibit structure as you would on the graphics.

    My Kryptonite addition is, “the Wing-it”

  2. Mel White says:

    Hi Gary —

    I couldn’t agree more that exhibitors often focus “on the wrong things” when considering a display design/purchase. Designers and builders are equally to blame. Yes, we have to work with the constraints of budget and the practical needs of A/V, storage, lighting, etc. However, we are guilty of forgetting that a trade show is an experience, something event planners embrace. How do you make the event memorable, not just workable? I would challenge us all to consider that when we consult with our clients. A trade show should be fun, not just for the attendees but for exhibitors as well.

  3. sue says:

    My favorite line when marketing trade show displays:

    “We don’t feel like our trade shows generate any business”…..See 11 descriptions noted above, at least 50% apply!!!!

  4. Mel White says:

    So very, very true Sue.

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