Retail Trade Show – Melbourne Australia

Today I visited the Retail Show with two purposes in mind. Firstly to see the new technologies available and secondly to see how the staff on the stands delivered their messages.

Objective one – I saw some quite promising new technologies and a pile of the same stuff. Lots of POS systems, shelving, labelling, flooring, carts, signage, signage and signage. Seriously, some of these were quite interesting and some organisations tried hard to differentiate themselves. Some succeeded, most did not.

Objective two – Visual images – what did catch my eye was the inflated igloo type booth from one organisation. It caught my eye because it was so different to all the other stands. No standard hire booth with walls covered in posters and brochure holders rather something that stopped you in your tracks and screamed look here.

There was another fantastic stand by a shop design business. All white with blue lighting, floating logo’s and staff with matching blue shirts. Again impossible to walk past without stopping for a better look.

Both of these stands stood out from the crowd. What they did say, without words, is that we are innovative and different from everyone else. That’s what I “heard” at least. Good on them.

Rant time…One wonders if there has ever been an “etiquette” for appearing at trade shows. If there has I have never discovered it and neither have 99.9% of the folk working on the stands.

Let me preface what I am about to say by stating that I have spent many, many days over 15 or so years on stands at trade events both in Australia and overseas. I have endured the sore feet, boredom, loss of voice from too much talking and so on.

So, listen here vendors… What do you think the visitors to you booth think when you are busy checking your emails, talking on the phone and chatting to your colleagues? We think that you do not care about us at all. We feel that we represent a distraction to you. By the way, we are your potential customers.

Now I am willing to give the one man operation a little slack (but only a tiny amount) because there is still a normal days work in addition to being on the stand. What I can not accept is the staff from major international software vendors sitting at tables on their stand working on their laptops and chatting on the phone. I also can not accept the sales people with bluetooth earpieces stuck in their ears or even worse those that excuse themselves from a conversation with me to take a call on their mobile phone.

Therefore I present the demoguy’s first rule for trade show events -


  • Focus on the potential customer when you are on a stand.

I accept that you still have other things to do, that you may be having a quiet day on the stand or that you may be bored BUT you are on that stand for a reason – to help deliver your products to a new market. Understand that reason and put your complete attention to achieving quality outcomes for your organisation.

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