How to Overcome Competing Tradeshow Booth Displays

Tradeshows as a concept are hugely important for a wide range of different reasons. Not only do they represent excellent networking opportunities within your own industry, but they’re also a great way to showcase a new product or service in a controlled environment and really capture the imagination of all in attendance.



The obvious issue that tradeshows can also represent, however, is one of competition. What do you do if you’re in the process of getting ready for a show and you suddenly realize that not only is your biggest competition also there, but they’re located nearby with a very similar-looking booth?

Do you attempt to change direction at the last minute? Do you try to “out perform” your biggest rival? How do you grab the attention of attendees before your nemesis can? These are all questions that you can answer by falling back to the basic rules of tradeshow marketing and etiquette and by keeping them firmly in mind at all times.

Tradeshow Etiquette

It may initially come as a shock to you, but it makes perfect sense that your biggest competitor is at the same tradeshow that you’re also attending. It is one of the most important events in your industry all year long, after all – they recognize a great opportunity just like you do. Also remember that they’re likely having the same crisis that you are. Keep in mind that they also just realized that their biggest competitor is at this particular event – namely, you and your team.

For the best results in this situation, try to observe just a few basic rules of tradeshow etiquette. Namely, try to be respectful of your competitor and don’t go out of your way to “trash talk” them to people who visit your booth. Make sure that you and your team members are remaining professional at all times. The old show business adage of “Don’t ever let them see you sweat” most certainly applies in this situation. Don’t try to spread misinformation and try to show honesty and integrity above all else. Be polite and respectful and hopefully they’ll do the same.

Making the Best Impression

If your biggest competitor has just showed up at your tradeshow, one thing that you absolutely don’t want to do is let them get inside your head. If you’re now suddenly turning the show into an “Us versus Them” situation, you’re much more likely to fall into the trap of overselling the product or service that you’re showing off. Keep in mind that none of the attendees of the show are likely bothered by the fact that your competitor is nearby – only you are. They don’t care about the context – they don’t like to be oversold, period.

Try to remain approachable and make the best impression, but do not monopolize the conversation. Always keep the 80/20 rule firmly in mind – 80% of the time you should be listening to what your leads have to say and you should be talking only 20% of the time. This doesn’t change just because your rival is a few booths away.

Leverage Technology to Your Advantage

Having said all that, if you’re trying to make sure that people see your trade show booth before they can catch a glimpse of the competition, you absolutely want to use the weapon of technology to your advantage. Use QR codes to allow booth visitors to instantly find out more information on their smartphones. Use social media to post Facebook or Twitter updates and show what a good time you’re having. Gaining an advantage over your rival in cyberspace will most certainly allow you to do the same in the room itself by way of increased foot traffic.

For more, check out our article on visitor tracking or how to dress for success.

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