Trade Shows Are A Zoo

Trade Shows Are A Zoo

Trade Shows Are A Zoo


by Jason Kelly

If you stop and think about it, a trade show is really like a temporary zoo, set up to wow the crowd with exotic animals (products) of all sizes for the weekend. During your next trade show exhibit, you’ll want to make sure your animals look great and attract a ton of attention. Here’s trade show expert Jason Kelly with more to this effective analogy.

“This place is a zoo,” alligator said in his typical New York accent. As a youngster, this was the start of a TV spot for the local zoo. Thinking about that today, I can see its relevance in today’s trade show and events world.

The New Lion is Here

When a zoo gets a new, high-profile animal, it draws a bigger crowd. It’s the same for trade shows. Seeing new products is the No. 1 reason attendees go to shows. Make sure to feed your new product “animal” well, give it good placement, lighting, traffic flow, interactive content and meeting areas, and most importantly, make sure lion display looks great.

The Petting Zoo

Kids flock to get their hands on the animals in the petting zoo. Similarly, never underestimate the power of a good demo. That hands-on interactive time with attendees is not only one of the best ways to help drive traffic, but it also allows you to gain valuable input from those closest to your industry.

Don’t Feed the Animals

Make sure you are not overfeeding your booth with too many of the wrong people who are coming in just for the treats. Remember, you can tier your giveaways. A candy bowl is an inexpensive way to get the traffic in the aisle to slow down. Trinkets are a great way to start that face-to-face discussion and then a premium giveaway can either thank a prospect or help push them over the fence to engage in real business dialog.

Animals Pacing In Cages

Get rid of the cages and remove the barriers between you and your potential customers. The best zoos invite you to experience the environment. Similarly, move that 8-ft. table out of the aisle, open up the floor space with smaller tables that double as storage, and invite people to engage in real conversations and experiences.

Roaming Herds

With upwards of 100,000 people at some shows, you may only speak to 10% of them, follow up with 2% of them and only need to close a few to classify your show as an incredible success. Proper pre-show promotions and post-show follow-up is  mandatory to gain ROI and keep the business moving forward.

The Worm Exhibit

No one ever screams to see the worm exhibit, but every company and every product can still be an attention-getter with a few quick tips. Create something that speaks directly to your target audience, differentiates you from others and is owned by your company and only your company.

Remember the Zoo Keepers

Even when you have the best exhibit, the best animals and the best placement in the zoo, it is the zoo keeper that keeps the animals from getting sick, shovels the !@#$%, and gets the job done. Set a seasoned trade show staffer as the lead, hold morning huddles, set goals and keep to them. Make sure to train your booth staffers and keep everyone headed towards the same goals.

Final Thought

Remember when you went to the zoo and all the animals were sleeping? That wasn’t much fun. Instead, take the right steps at your next show to keep the animals lively, and the attendees will reward you and your company.

Learn More

Don’t let your staff slump in their cages when staffing a show. Read and implement the ideas in the Better Booth Staffing for Greater Trade Show Results to really improve the performance of your trade show program and learn strategies to keep your booth staffers alive and ready to pounce. Request a free copy at

About the Author: Jason Kelly is a marketing consultant with Skyline Exhibits and Design based in South Carolina. With fifteen years of experience building strategy and event tactics for some of the biggest brands in the industry, he is most pleased when he sees his clients succeed.

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