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Disseminating information to trade show visitors

Barry Siskind


If we take the latest CEIR Digital Playbook Study at face value, we may be taking one step backwards in an attempt to green exhibit practices. This study focused on the dissemination of information through collateral materials.

The study found that the two most common methods of passing along product information were first brochures and catalogues followed by a post show e-mail. The study confirmed that these practices were closely aligned to attendees needs for receiving information.

The second finding revealed the top two digital methods of passing along information were downloading information to a USB and sending post show information through e-mails.

Before you increase your brochure order for your next trade show, there are some questions to be asked.

Although CEIR reports that attendees like brochures, does this mean all attendees want excessive amounts of print material. My guess is the answer is “no”. It is cumbersome, heavy and difficult to sift through after the show.

Do piles of brochures distract your booth staff from their ability to engage visitors in meaningful conversations? The answer here is “yes, they often do”.

Do casual visitors want information about your products? The answer is “probably not”. The visitors who need the most information are those with a serious interest. This is uncovered when one of your booth staff takes the time to engage them in a meaningful conversation.

The CEIR report indicates there is a need for high value information at the booth. However this does not means any and all information but specific information that serious visitors can take and use in order to help them make informed decisions.

Here are some suggestions for improving the return on your collateral investment at your next exhibition.

1. Don’t take an excessive number of brochures and catalogues. Calculate a realistic number so you can distribute them to visitors who have a serious interest rather than everyone who stops at your booth.

2. Display your brochures tastefully and professionally. When you are planning your display, consider how your brochures will be presented. Placing them in piles is a waste of space and often creates clutter. Simple vertical display racks are often the best bet.

3. Plan for storage of extra brochures. You are not going to display all your collateral at one time. Budget how many you need for each day and then store the remaining inventory either on or off site.

4. Don’t make brochures easily accessible. Keep them away from the front of your booth. Having them there is an invitation for everyone to take one and keep on moving. A better approach is to have them discretely placed near the rear of your booth so your staff can decide which brochure is best for a particular visitor.

5. Train your staff. Ensure that your booth staff understands that collateral is a tool they can use to move a prospect to the next stage in the selling cycle. Before they hand a catalogue or brochure to a visitor, they should have an idea of who the visitor is, their level of interest and an indication on what information will be most useful.

6. Give the visitor a choice. Not all visitors want print material. Have your booth staff ask visitors how they would like to receive information (hard or soft copy).

7. Collect follow-up information. In return for a brochure you are entitled to know where it’s going and how you can service the visitor after the show. The key responsibility of your booth staff is to ensure they collect enough meaningful information so that you can follow-up in an appropriate manner.

The CEIR report is an important tool in your exhibition planning. This particular study indicates that there is a need to give and receive information but with these seven helpful hints, your efforts will be greatly enhanced.

This research is part of CEIR’s new report titled, Exhibitor product Information Sharing Practices. You can learn more about this subject or view a list of other CEIR research papers by visiting