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The five G’s of tradeshow success

Welcome back, class. In school, there are many techniques and tools – such as acronyms and mnemonic devices – designed to help students learn and memorize crucial information. In this column, we will cover much of the information that we have in past columns, but this time, we are going to use the literary device known as alliteration to teach the five G’s of tradeshow success.

The following are the five G’s critical to effective exhibiting:


If ever there were an area of marketing/business that needed keen preparation and groundwork, tradeshows would be it. Laying the groundwork involves reading the exhibitor package from cover to cover. This includes educating yourself as to deadlines for registration, deliveries, setup, speaking and award opportunities. Being fully versed in the location of your booth will help you visually lay out booth materials, furnishings and demonstrations ahead of time. Ample booth staff training and on-call backups, shipping and handling of materials and hotel and travel coordination all speak to good preparation. Coordinating raffles, promotional giveaways and literature/collateral all fall under the “groundwork” umbrella as well. Anticipate and troubleshoot problems before they happen.


Graphics and messaging should be cutting-edge, progressive and aesthetically pleasing – but effective over all else. The graphics on your booth should be consistent with graphics on the other materials you are distributing and consistent and cohesive with your brand. It is noteworthy to remind exhibitors to make sure graphics and messaging on booth displays are large and colorful enough to be seen from a distance but not so large that it is tacky and unintelligible from up close. Always be sure that the messaging on the booth display is not conflicting or being concealed by standing booth staffers, booth furnishings or other extraneous materials. A common mistake is booth displays designed with messaging copy below knee level. Make sure the graphics and eye-level messaging are designed to speak to your target audience and that they are meaningful above all else. A common mistake is overloading a booth display with too many messages and graphics. Remember – often, less is more.


Promotional giveaways always are popular and necessary for exhibitors to remain competitive. The most basic function of promotional giveaways is as awareness and goodwill builders and brand re-enforcers. Promotional giveaways have grown up from their original and popular roots as pens, notepads, key rings, desk accessories and rulers. These days, there are many more creative and more mainstream options including cell-phone desk chairs, mini first-aid kits, hand sanitizers, rubber jar grip openers, and tote bags. Of course logo-cloaked bottled waters and sweets always go over well, but be sure they do not conflict with catering rules in your tradeshow manual. Remember – it is not always necessary to include the show info on the promotional items but rather your company’s logo and contact information. This is an economical way to have widespread use of these often costly investments.


There are a number of creative gimmicks that exhibitors are utilizing to create and generate that highly coveted booth buzz. On top of the list are QR codes – which are used as a way to enter/link participants in some kind of prize giveaway via their smart phones leading them to a specific promotional landing page. QR Codes are also used as a way of exchanging information between exhibitor and attendee as well as a tracking and lead gathering technique. Create your QR Codes in advance of an event and make sure they are tested, tried and true. Other booth gimmicks involve the use of celeb/model spokesperson representation at a booth, a mascot or even some kind of costumed character representing the brand. Bubbles have been used to garner attention, but prove to be most effective if there is a tie-in to the product/service – such as a launch of a new soda or cleaning product. Other gimmicks include the use of a photo booth – which generates booth buzz and dispenses the promotional giveaway with a personal photo strip show memento. When allowed – a cotton candy or popcorn machine can create a nice synergy if the booth is showcasing cloud-based technologies or anything relating to 3-D movies or hi-tech entertainment, respectively. Any kind of raffle prize or scavenger hunt giveaway is a creative gimmick to get attendees back to your booth multiple times.


To be sure to convey that your company is in tune with the marketplace at large, it is imperative that you show some cutting-edge technology in your exhibit – even if you are not a hi-tech exhibitor. A charging station for multiple smart devices (phone, tablets, laptops) has double duty in that it guarantees attendees stop by your booth multiple times as well as extending their visit and exposure to your brand’s products and/or services. Other impressive gadgets to consider would be interactive demonstrations on tablets or 3-D Presentations in a booth set up as media viewing room (here’s where the popcorn comes in). If you are a hi-tech exhibitor, there is nothing an attendee wants more than to push your buttons. When it comes to electronic or hi-tech gadgets, hands-on is the way to go.


1. When delegating responsibilities for an upcoming show, consider using the G’s as a basic framework or breakdown.
2. Remember that there are many factors that add up to trade show success; if you follow the five basic G’s – you’ll be off to a GREAT start.

About Linda Musgrove, the TradeShow Teacher:

Linda Musgrove is founder and president of TradeShow Teacher, an award-winning trade show management and marketing firm. Linda, along with her team of specialists, focuses on assisting companies increase trade show ROI through a comprehensive results driven formula. As the author of “The Complete Idiots Guide to Trade Shows,” published by Alpha Books/Penguin Publishing; Linda is also a regular, expert contributor to several industry publications and sites. Learn more online at www.tsteacher.com and sign up for the FREE monthly Trade Show Tactics newsletter. Follow on Twitter at twitter.com/tsteacher or e-mail at info@tsteacher.com.

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