By 27th Sep 2017 Sep 30th, 2017 News


(How to use an addition to your sales team that will target your prospects, engage your potential customer, get them onto your stand… and talking.)

The answer to the question “How to attract customers to your trade show stand” is pretty straightforward… Simply, give away a shed-load of promotional products. And to answer your next question: the best kind of promotional product to give away is free beer.

Big crowd. Guaranteed.

Of course, whether it’s going to attract the right kind of customers is another question. Attracting a thousand people onto your stand doesn’t mean you’re going to generate a thousand sales leads; or anything like it.

RULE NUMBER ONE: Identify the type of customers you want to attract to your company’s booth or stand. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. You want prospects, not a big crowd of suspects.

Your primary goal is to attract potential customers and clients. The “obvious” solution is to hand out heaps of promotional products. Unfortunately, what you term “promotional products”, most of the trade show attendees refer to as “freebies”.

Often referred to as “bag collectors”, these individuals can be seen drifting from booth to booth, clutching plastic bags which they stuff full of promotional key fobs, golf balls, and pens.

Sometimes, companies decide to really splash out, and bring in all sorts of “attractions”. Interactive robots are all the rage at the moment. A few years ago it was human statues. Golf simulation and chocolate tasting – even a Formula 1 racing car simulator – make regular appearances these days.

But be honest with yourself; are the people queuing up at these attractions potential customers, or just people who are out for a jolly?  Surely the purpose of a stand at a trade show is not to attract everybody, their auntie and the dog, but to be a focus for gathering valuable contact information and sales enquiries from genuine, potential customers.

RULE NUMBER TWO: Your promotional thrust must be more than simply a crowd-pleaser. It needs to do more than just attract and entertain.

Yes, getting crowds of people onto your stand is relatively easy; you simply put on a big attraction and entertain them. The more you spend, and the bigger the attraction, the larger the crowd you will pull. But a crowd doesn’t guarantee qualified enquiries from genuine prospects. There are better ways…

Increasingly popular at Trade Shows in the US is the use of entertainers – particularly magicians and “mentalists”; mind readers who perform a sort of psychological illusion. They are employed as “traffic stoppers”. Indeed, some of these individuals work exclusively for the exhibiting company at every trade show, seminar, workshop… Ambassadors for the company, who know the products and the personnel inside-out.

I have done this kind of work for numerous companies, from insurance giants and oil companies, to sporting goods manufacturers and the medical profession. And I’ve learned a few things along the way that you might just find helpful.

As a psychological illusionist, I saw myself as part of the marketing / sales team. Yes, I would start a performance on the stand to bring in a small crowd – perhaps even plug the company logo or a particular product as part of the programme. But I was aware my task entailed much more than just entertaining.

I would have the sales team identify and single out certain individuals that they would really like to talk to. I needed to know who were the centres of influence, the decision-makers; qualified prospects who would benefit from the offered service or product. I would then target those individuals, approach them, and engage with them.

I would use a quick mind-reading demonstration to capture their attention and curiosity – perhaps tell them the name of their first love, or reveal a word they were merely thinking of. I would then invite them onto the stand to see one more remarkable thing. There, I might bend a spoon in their own hand; Uri Geller style, or duplicate a drawing they made in secret.

But my job didn’t just stop there. I then introduced them to somebody from the sales team, leaving them with something to talk about – and for the sales process / information gathering to begin – while I set off after the next prospect.

Be honest, doesn’t that sound more productive than merely handing out key-rings and pens?

RULE NUMBER THREE. Find a way of engaging with genuine prospects – ideally using a professional “attention grabber”, such as a magician, who can target those you want to talk to – rather than simply handing out free promotional trinkets.

A little bit of imagination goes a long way towards attracting the right prospects onto your trade stands – and keeping them there.  For example, at several trade shows, I took part in a “Challenge the Mind Reader” competition. Selected individuals (and by that I mean genuine prospective clients, as identified by the sales team) were given the opportunity to challenge the mind reader. If I failed to read their mind, given three attempts, they would win an iPad / laptop. (Nobody ever beat me!)

After having been at that for a while, I was delighted to see every single one of the sales staff engaged with a genuine prospect – one that they had earlier identified.

See? A little bit of imagination – and a rifle bullet, rather than shotgun, approach – to getting your potential customers onto the stand, and talking.

So, here is your DO and DON’T tick list for a successful trade show presence.

DON’T do anything that will simply attract those looking for “freebies”

DON’T employ a novelty “attraction” simply to get a crowd – any crowd.

DON’T waste time and effort on those who are not centres of influence or decision makers.

DO think about the kind of prospects you want to attract.

DO use the rifle, rather than the shotgun approach.

DO consider employing a professional “traffic stopper” – entertainer.

DO use an entertainer who is briefed on products and personnel.

DO use an entertainer who considers himself part of the sales / marketing team.

DO identify the prospects you want to talk to, and have your entertainer bring them to you.

Next time you have a trade show, think about ditching the promotional gimmicks. Instead, consider hiring in an individual who would be part of your sales team, tasked with targeting your potential customers and clients.

It would probably work out less expensive than a fancy novelty attraction, and would certainly prove a great deal more effective in actually bringing in business leads, too.

And after all, isn’t that what you want?


Drew McAdam is an entertainer based in Central Scotland. He has performed his distinctive form of pure mind magic across the UK and from the United States to Russia. From Europe to Africa – and most places in-between. Though mainly performing in the corporate market, he often performs in theatre and on TV – and had his own series with BBC. While specialising in corporate after dinner astonishment and cabaret performances, he loves nothing more than taking his spellbinding demonstrations to private functions, parties and weddings.

If your requirement is for entertainment that is uniquely practical and practically unique… Get in touch.

Tel: 07711 590618