Making A Great First Impression at Tradeshows

Making A Great First Impression at Tradeshows


Tradeshows are one of the best places to present your brand to new customers and contacts. If you’re not paying extra attention to the little things, you could find your booth struggling to gain interest — and you’ll be stuck wondering why.

We sat down with Jakprints’ Co-Founder and tradeshow whiz, Dameon Guess, for advice on starting the show confidently and impressing attendees. Dameon has attended many tradeshows over the years — ever since Jakprints was born in 1999!

“Frantic energy is really bad,” says Dameon. If you’re already stressed out before the event has started, it will derail your whole experience. Take a moment. Reflect on what you’ve done so far. Keep yourself grounded. Taking things one step at a time will help curb your stress level.

Weeks before the event, be sure that you have everything packed, prepared and ready to ship to the location. Make sure to include a checklist of what you’ve packed along with any on-location contact info. Do you need to coordinate with a union crew on site? Know the drill ahead of time. When you’re taking these extra steps, you’re helping ensure your day goes off without fail. It all starts with a solid foundation… and extension cords. Always bring more than you think you need, and then bring one more.


Ensuring you have adequate signage is always a large part of tradeshow success. Many times uncluttered advertising can help you stand out at a busy show or in a packed booth. “If it’s not necessary, filling your booth is not the right thing to do,” noted Dameon. “The curiosity of one item is enough to keep their attention.”

It’s easy for attendees to have a sensory overload, preventing people from approaching your booth or understanding your message. Create a clear, welcoming environment around your table along with a super-simple message on your signage.

Attendee’s brains are already completely overloaded with stimulus and messaging — there’s very little mental overhead leftover for complex thoughts. What’s your value proposition? Can you explain what you do to a five-year-old with one phrase? If your signage isn’t that simple, attendees are going to blow right by your pretty booth that you worked so hard on.

You can increase your appeal just by changing the way you organize your space. “Never fill your table up with everything you have because then there is no value placed on them,” explained Dameon. “Putting 15-25 things out at a time makes it look like you’re in demand.”


Lighting your booth at a show is extremely important. While it can be overlooked at first, you’ll notice how much traffic proper lighting can direct to your booth. A well-lit booth looks way more professional than sitting in the shadows. You want to make your booth inviting, not intimidating. You just need to be careful with where you’re placing your light.

“While at Accidental Comedy shows, I’ve noticed how differently the audience connects with a comic if they can see their face,” commented Jimmie Graham, who works in the Sales and Promotions department at Jakprints and is a founding member of the comedy collective Accidental Comedy. “This venue I worked at had a single flood light that looked like a flashlight under your face. The next time I had a show there, I brought along just some clip lights and hung them from the ceiling.”

“It made a large difference. I could tell the audience was able to connect more with the performers and it looked way more professional,” added Jimmie.

For Jakprints, we’ve always treated our booths like sales floors. You want to light the important stuff, kind of like you’d see at a retail store. Doing the same when lighting your booth can change the dynamic and easily grab attention from people walking by.


Handing out functional items shows connections that you won’t waste their time. When creating these items, think about what message you’re supplying the masses with and how you can use that to your advantage.

Selecting items to bring comes down to a few things: whether or not they have an immediate use, the value and how it looks. Making sure you’re creating quality items will help you avoid junk — like what we covered in this post on Go Media’s blog.


Give them a branded pocket note to write in or even a tote bag to carry their things in, you’re supplying them with your brand name and having them associate your brand with usefulness. This gives attendees a reason to think about your brand, long after your interaction.

The pocket note will allow them to write down the information you may have displayed on your booth — and you can always use a tote bag at tradeshows. “It’s important to create some interaction to make people connect with you,” remarked Dameon.

It All Comes Down to Image

Coming to an event prepared is only half of the battle. Your image says just as much about you as your business does. Your main concern is controlling what is being said. “You need to have a presence and promote that,” advised Dameon. “A good brand with bad execution will do better than a bad brand with good execution.”

Almost like we’re right there with you at the show, Jakprints has what you need to ace your first impressions — like table covers, business cards and giveaway items! Visit our website to start designing!

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