How to Thrive at Trade Shows: Work with, Not Against the Many Personalities

tradeshow personality characters

How to Thrive at Trade Shows: Work with, Not Against the Many Personalities

With my eyes glazed over, mouth frozen into a slight grin, gazing into the abyss, my mind wanders to lunch.

I hope there’s gyro on site.

I love a gyro come trade show day.

And, is there a Starbucks close by?

This coffee is weak.

My mind continues to wander on to my to do list.

Did I publish that blog post this morning?

Send that email?

Schedule that meeting?

Then a silence breaks the chatter. I snap back into focus when I realize she has her phone out showing me a picture of her cat.

Time for a coffee break.

When you engage with hundreds of individuals in a day it can be challenging to navigate. Every individual has a different personality and buying behaviour. This will influence their thought process, actions, and decisions. If you’re able to recognize their needs, behaviour and expectations and then alter your communication in 30 seconds flat- you win.

If you know how to cater to the most common personalities, you’ll have greater trade show success and never miss your target in another encounter ever again.


Sally the Socializer

It starts with a glance and a smile. Her big hair, flashy jewelry and bright colours Girl talking on phoneimmediately grab your attention. She’s easy to spot among the sea of white, black and
grey. She has 3 bags too many and too chipper for 9 am.

She walks over admiring your booth.

What a nice lady.

Then, before you know it, you’re caught in a mouse trap. You’re bombarded with facts. You know her career aspirations, her hobbies, her cat’s name, and his favourite treats.

The Encounter:

She is very friendly right off the bat. Almost too friendly. She speaks with enthusiasm, big gestures and excessive movements. She welcomes human interaction and shares a bit too much of your personal space. She asks a lot of questions. She wants to know everything about who you are and what you do. Socializers run on emotions and feelings. As an emotionally-driven thinker she’ll want to know the who’s. Who do you help? Who will be happy? Who will this product affect? Who would not enjoy it?

The Communication:

Socializers want to build rapport and establish trust with others. They want to do business with individuals who value and respect them. Impress her by asking questions and encourage her to share her personal experiences. Address her needs in a way which makes her feel appreciated. This shows that you’re invested in her needs.

Socializers have short attention spans so speak in bullet points or key highlights. Use short, fast stories to describe your service emphasizing who it helps. Be personable and enthusiastic but cautious of your time. It’s easy to get lost in conversation with socializers so remain in control at all times. And, if you can’t help her don’t feel afraid to bid her farewell.


Adam the Analytic

He walks with intention and ease gliding across the trade show floor. He examines everybusiness man with hand up booth and makes a clear decision within a split second. His clothes are clean, pressed, creased and tucked. His hair neat, face clean shaven, and his watch shining from underneath his sport jacket. He carries only a slim briefcase. He only needs the necessities.

He takes notice of your booth and lingers from a distance scanning your banners. He makes the decision to engage. He meets your gaze and introduces himself with a firm but wavering handshake. He reaches into a small pocket hidden on the side of his bag and hands over his business card.

The Encounter:

He’s structured, organized and efficient. His gestures and tone are  stiff and precise making him hard to read. You have to pay close attention to this one. He respects boundaries and backs up when you invade his space. He doesn’t take interest in the personal details. The organizer runs on detail, efficiency and processes. He wants to know the “hows” but in the most efficient way possible. How does it work? How will this give me results? How will this bring success? How will this be systematic?

The Communication:

Organizers are detail oriented and careful decision makers. He wants in-depth knowledge before making a decision on any matter. He wants to know what your business can do for him. They are not impressed with disorganized, spontaneous individuals who lack attention to detail. Organizers like plans and become apprehensive if they don’t work.

Have the information available at your booth and be ready to sift through every detail. Use data to show exact representations to attract attention and spike interest. They welcome handouts with all the facts to make an informed decision. Expect a lot of questions and clarifications but their quickness may be intimidating. They answer questions based on previous events so it could be a good way to gain a deeper insight into their needs. Organizers are slow decision makers so be patient. Instead of applying pressure, offer to set up a one-on-one call with them to discuss every detail. They’ll appreciate your patience.


Dana the Driver

She walks with power and purpose. Hair tied back, wearing a strong bold, dark red or business woman on laptopneutral coloured pant suit. She looks formal and traditional but walks with authority. She must be someone important. She walks with a handbag but holds the trade show plan on a clipboard close to her body. She seems to be in a hurry but has cleared her agenda for the entire day.

If you asked her plan for the trade show she would have every time slot allotted for. She walks past every booth hardly giving them a chance. Then, she stops and turns her body to face your booth. She scans every banner, gives you the side eye and marches right over. She sticks her hand out making herself known.

The Encounter:

She takes control of the conversation, letting you know that she’s on a time crunch. Her gestures may seem passive aggressive with hands on her hips, elbows to the side or chest out. It’s her way of communicating her status and position. She may even be finger pointing or have her hands in her pockets as a way to display her superiority. Her demeanour is dominating. She’s goal-oriented, commanding in nature and motivated to achieve her objectives. She’s a fast decision maker so get to the point. She wants the answers to the “whats.” What are the facts? What is the logic? What is being measured? She speaks with intensity and purpose and admires if you do the same.

The Communication:

Drivers are practical, logical and structured. They find pleasure in poking holes in your pitch and will be quick to judge you and your services. She will come off as self-centered and opinionated. But, don’t let her hard shell fool you. She’s interested in your offer and wants more information. Get straight to the point when delivering your message.

Be direct. Provide her with facts and figures to help her understand your vision. Be careful not to waste her time on irrelevant and unnecessary information. State the facts but help make the connection by linking it a success story, analogy, case study or similar. She won’t appreciate if you derail the conversation, lack information or act informal. Highlight how your business will enable her to reach her goals and stand out from the competition.


Carl the Creative

He arrives only 15 minutes before the keynote strolling through the trade show floor. Heman in suit and glasses speaking looks a little out of place. He’s trendy, fashionable and colour-coordinating. A little eccentric for your typical “9-5.” He looks put together but lacks attention to detail. His shoes scuffed, clothing not pressed, hair tossed and nails rugged.

Does he know where he is? Did he get lost on his way to a design convention? His laid back, casual yet confident demeanour makes everyone around him feel at ease.

He takes sight of your booth and stops to examine it. He furrows his brows reading all the information. Then, nods his head and walks right over.

“Hey, your booth caught my eye.”

The Encounter:

He starts off the conversation by praising the concepts and ideas you present. He doesn’t ask for much information. He does most of the talking. He explains your points for you, uncovering the ideas and concepts for himself. He speaks with passion and uses visuals or analogies to understand core concepts. He may say phrases like: “I see what you’re saying, I get the picture,” or “that’s perfectly clear.” Without noticing, you find yourself engaging in a brainstorming session with him. He’s giving you ideas on your service. He speaks with big gestures and excessive movements. His body language is very open but eyes always scanning the room.

The Communication:

Creatives are quick decision makers, strategic thinkers, and visually driven. They are expressive and use their creative side to voice their opinions. Present them with the facts but let them share their own perspective on the topic. Respect their creative vision and opinions and they will respect you. They tend to have short attention spans to speak with key highlights or bullet points. Use graphics to convey your message. Or better- tap into their emotions with stories. Use stories from customers, events or your personal experience to deepen the relationship. Speak to them about the future and where your business could take them focusing on a result. Creatives make decisions based on what people will love. New ideas excite them. Show enthusiasm and excitement and the creative will relish in your vision.

No Comments

Post A Comment