Picture this:

You’ve invested in quality trade show display products that perfectly encapsulate what your brand is about. You’ve purchased great literature, giveaways, and other supporting items to make sure that everyone who comes to your display leaves with a great impression. You’ve got all the logistics in place, and your display is set up in good time to avoid last minute stress.

The doors of the trade show fling open, and throngs of potential leads and new clients come pouring in to the venue. They see your standout display and head towards it like moths to a flame.

But then something bad happens. Something that has the potential to undo all that hard work and investment:

Your staff just aren’t up to the game. Firstly, they aren’t presenting themselves well – both in terms of clothing and physical appearance, as well as being confident and effective communicators. Secondly, they simply aren’t clued up enough on the products and services they have been tasked to sell. The trade show ends with results that were less-than-expected, and does not deliver a positive ROI.

Does this sound like a nightmare scenario? It sure does!

And all of this could be avoided by following a golden rule of trade show marketing (and this applies to just about any other endeavour in life as well!).

It’s called the “Five Ps” principle:

  • Proper
  • Preparation
  • Prevents
  • Poor
  • Performance

How easy is that to remember?

This simple philosophy can be one of the most effective ways to ensure that your staff (as well as your booth/display) are up to the standard required to help your business achieve the best possible ROI from trade show marketing.

What does the Five Ps principle mean? At the most basic level, it means putting actions and processes into place to ensure that you and your team are adequately prepared to derive great results.

Here are some examples:

  • Coaching your trade show staff to have great knowledge of your products, services, and industry. Help get them to the point where they can speak comfortably about what your business offers, and aren’t flustered by tricky technical questions.
  • Set clear rules and expectations around personal presentation for your staff. First appearances are key, so ensure that your staff are provided with a smart-looking uniform (or at least some kind of cohesive dress requirements) and other expectations around things like hairstyles, facial hear, piercings and tattoos are set.
  • Inspire confidence and success in your trade show team by making it clear that professionalism is for everyone’s benefit. Staff, business owners/managers and customers all benefit when a trade show team is professional and effective.
  • Ensure that you have a high-quality trade show display. It needs to look great, be functional, and be maintained to a high standard if being used regularly. It isn’t a good look to be using a tatty old display that has been around more times than the earth has gone around the sun!
  • Learn the art of setting up your booth, literature, and other supporting material in a visually-appealing manner.

Fundamentally, it’s all about laying the groundwork for success through planning and training.


So, when it comes to trade show marketing – whether you’ve never done it before or you’re a seasoned vet – it is crucial to focus on those five Ps that we have previously discussed.

By showing up to trade shows with staff who present themselves to a high standard, and who are educated and informed on your products and services, you will enjoy far better business outcomes. Remember too that your display/booth and supporting material need to be high quality and fit-for-purpose. The best staff in the world won’t do you much good if you have a tatty old booth that doesn’t look the part.

Combine skilled, professional staff with a great trade show exhibit and you’ve got a recipe for success and positive ROI.