5 Strategies for Selling Your Products at Fairs, Trade Shows, & Festivals

In a world where retail eCommerce sales surpassed $2.3 billion this year, touting your products at fairs, trade shows, and festivals might seem like an outdated tactic to grow your business.

However, showcasing your product or service in real life still has high sales potential today. 82% of trade show attendees are directly involved in their teams’ purchasing decisions, so setting up shop at fairs, trade shows, and festivals is one of the best ways to connect with your target accounts’ key decision makers. Trade shows can also help you connect with other players in your industry, market your brand to a large audience, and gather feedback about your products.

To help you get the most out of your next trade show, we’ve compiled five effective strategies for selling your products at your booth. And hopefully, they can help you instantly attract your visitors’ attention and convince them to buy on the spot.

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5 Strategies for Selling Your Products at Fairs, Trade Shows, & Festivals

1. Attract attendees with eye-catching merchandise or engaging entertainment.

In a venue full of generic trade booths screaming for everyone’s attention, you really only have a few seconds to catch someone’s eye. Fortunately, offering interesting swag, giveaways, food, videos, and music can entice them to check out your booth.

For instance, at Agritechnica 2017, a leading trade fair for agricultural technology, SIP set up a booth where people could take a look at their agricultural machinery. But to initially attract them to their booth, they knew asking every single passerby to check out their products would repel them faster than a door-to-door salesman could. So they decided to set up a concert in front of their booth, where visitors would enjoy live music from a few row of seats.

SIP’s clever marketing tactic created a fun environment for attendees who wanted to take a break from the trade fair, and the large crowd attracted even more people to their booth. The live music also warmed up most attendees to SIP’s sales representatives when they talked to them and even prompted some visitors to approach the representatives themselves.

2. Target the companies in attendance.

Another way you can instantly grab people’s attention at trade shows is designing your booth to attract specific target accounts in attendance. For example, at Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference one year, HubSpot used the Marketing Grader Tool to grade the marketing programs of companies we know would be in attendance.

We then displayed a leaderboard of the top-ranked companies on one of our television sets, which captivated the attendees who saw their company on the leaderboard and, in turn, lead to a lot of conversations with our representatives about how they could improve their marketing programs.

3. Sell an experience, not your product.

Most people cherish experiences over material possessions. Why? Because we’re the sum of our experiences, so they’re ingrained in our identity and will always be a part of our story, allowing us to bond with other people who’ve shared similar experiences.

If your booth can provide attendees with a delightful, memorable experience, you’ll make much more of an emotional impact than selling them a product ever would. These experiences also make for a compelling story that visitors will be more than happy to share with other attendees.

Charity Water, an organization that creates clean water sources for remote villages in developing nations, gave attendees at a trade show an experience they will always remember. The company had a booth where guests could carry two 40 pound jugs of water across a 50 yard platform, which African villagers do for miles every single day.

Picture Credit: Huffington Post

This experience helped attendees realize how challenging it is for villagers in developing nations to access something that most people can obtain with the twist of a faucet, boosting the odds that attendees would donate more money to the cause.

4. Make sure your credit card machine works.

As someone who has had to manually enter customers’ credit card information into a point-of-sale system, I know how horrifying it is to see a long line of impatient customers eventually trickle out of your store.

Nowadays, 77% of consumers prefer using credit or debit cards as their main form of payment. So only accepting cash and check or manually entering people’s credit card details could cause you to lose money and loyal customers in the long-run, even though you have to pay credit card companies processing fees to accept their cards.

Before you set up shop at your fair, festival, or trade show, strongly consider purchasing a credit card machine and make sure it works properly.

5. Treat everyone who visits your booth like a paying customer.

The first impression your brand makes on potential customers is arguably the most important interaction in the buyer’s journey. Studies show that good first impressions lead to connection, while bad ones lead to bias and prejudice. And as the old saying goes, you never get a second chance at first impressions.

Acting aloof toward curious attendees who want to learn about your product but might not seem like the best fit for your solution can spark a ripple effect that could hurt your business down the road. You never know when an unqualified prospect could get a new job and turn into a coveted lead. Losing a deal over a bad first impression is infuriating, so treat every visitor like a paying customer — answer all their questions and give them a thorough product demo if they ask for one.

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8 of the Best Retail Blogs Every Retailer Should Be Reading

The retail industry evolves fast. Ten years ago, every town’s mall was a bustling hub of commerce, chock full of busy shops and pesky tweens. Nowadays, Cyber Monday generates $1.5 billion more in sales than Black Friday does.

With the explosive growth of online shopping and 2017’s brick-and-mortar retail apocalypse, how can you, a retailer, adapt to the ever-changing preferences of consumers today? One of the first steps to take is staying informed. Retail blogs can keep you updated on the industry’s latest stories and prepare you for the upcoming trends that will transform the industry in 2019 and beyond.Ecommerce businesses can retain more customers by following this free guide.Below, we’ll list the best retail blogs on the internet right now. And, hopefully, they can help you reinvigorate your brick-and-mortar store or help you take advantage of the current boom in eCommerce for your online store.

8 of the Best Retail Blogs Every Retailer Should Be Reading

1. Shopify Plus

Shopify Plus, Shopify’s enterprise software arm, structures their editorial calendar like a season of television, weaving their articles into narrative-driven series and publishing multiple stories about one eCommerce topic over time.

With a trusted team of staff writers and freelancers, they write heavily-researched yet easy-to-understand stories about eCommerce success stories, behavioral economics, buyer psychology, and industry data, helping you understand the industry’s best tactics and why they work.

Each of Shopify Plus’ articles is valuable on its own, but just like episodes from your favorite Netflix show, they can entice you to read the entire series, arming you with the full scope of knowledge about a certain topic.

Recommended Read: How 2 Chainz Used Shopify Plus to Generate 2 Million Dollars in 30 Days

2. National Retail Federation

The National Retail Federation, or NRF, is the largest retail trade association in the United States. For over a century, they’ve advocated for retailers by lobbying congress in support of the industry and providing mentorship and networking opportunities for their members.

To update retailers about the latest news and trends, the NRF publishes blog posts about the economy, connected commerce, consumer trends, holiday and seasonal trends, retail technology, and small businesses.

They also conduct studies and surveys to grasp the current state of the retail industry and publish the insights on their blog. They use their podcast, Retail Gets Real, and their online magazine, Stores, to tell stories about thriving retail brands too.

Recommended Read: Facial recognition is becoming a competitive tool in the fight against fraud

3. The Retail Doctor

Bob Phibbs, the self-proclaimed “Retail Doctor”, is a retail consultant who has helped brands like LEGO, Mastercard, and Paul Mitchell optimize their brick and mortar stores, train their sales team, and boost their in-store sales.

Phibbs’ consulting services are definitely impressive, but his blog might be even more admirable. Feedspot named The Retail Doctor’s blog the best retail blog & website for 2018, and reading it will teach you a broad range of retail topics, spanning from holiday shopping strategies to dealing with bratty kids in your store.

Recommended Read: How Should You Handle Shoppers With Bratty Kids In Tow?

4. Retail Dive

An offshoot of Industry Dive, a digital media company that publishes business news and original analysis for over 3 million executives in 16 industries, Retail Dive analyzes the top retail trends and new stories and publishes extensive articles about them. They mostly cover topics like technology, trends, marketing, eCommerce, payments, mobile, logistics, corporate news, loss prevention, and the holidays.

They also write opinion pieces about retail, conduct their own studies, post industry events, have a job board, and produce their own podcast, Conversational Commerce.

Recommended Read: Why most shoppers still choose brick-and-mortar stores over e-commerce

5. Square

Square, one of the leading credit card readers for small businesses, has millions of customers, and the company’s blog has been influential in their customers’ growth. Covering topics like customer success, data insights, finances, growth strategies, management, and marketing, Square’s blog can also help you run your retail store more effectively.

If you’re a Square customer, you can read their blog to learn about their latest product updates, how other businesses succeed using Square, and best practices for using their products.

Recommended Read: The State of Malls in America

6. Medallion Retail

With over five decades of experience helping retail brands like Starbucks, Converse, and Mark Avion run their in-store marketing, Medallion Retail is a proven thought leader in the retail industry.

Their blog gives retailers an inside look at their coveted expertise, which is in-store experience, signage, and pop-up retail. If you want to learn from an established retail expert, Medallion Retail can be your trusted resource.

Recommended Read: The Original Holiday Pop-Up: What Retailers Can Learn from Spirit Halloween

7. Forrester Retail

Forrester is a market research company that provides reports about how existing and future technologies can potentially impact the business world.

To help retailers leverage technology to adapt to their consumers’ ever-changing preferences, Forrester publishes blog posts about the latest news in retail and predictions of the industry’s direction. They also attach more in-depth research reports to most of their blog posts for readers to download.

Recommended Read: Amazon Is A (Big And Scary) Red Herring

8. Shopify Retail

Originally founded to sell snowboards online, Shopify has transformed into the leading eCommerce platform for retailers, powering over 500,000 businesses who have generated more than $40 billion in sales.

Countless customers use their blog as a guide to run their business, and if you follow it, you can hone your chops in marketing, sales, customer experience, pop-up shops, Black Friday & Cyber Monday strategy, omni-channel retail, and technology.

Recommended Read: How HERO Backpacks Founder Used Her Personal Story to Build a Brand

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