5 Things the Scouts can Teach You About Working a Trade Show

5 Things the Scouts can Teach You About Working a Trade Show Picture

The 2010 Martinsburg-Berkeley County Business Expo is coming up and businesses that will be participating should be starting to plan for how they will present themselves to maximize their time and energy while at the expo.

We’ve participated in the first two iterations of the Expo and will be participating again this year. In the two previous years, I feel like there has been one group that has been head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to making the most of the opportunity that the business expo affords and I feel like there is a lot that can be learned from them. Of course I’m talking about the Cub Scouts.

Both years that we’ve participated in the expo, we’ve had the privilege to be positioned across from the Cub Scouts. It’s amazing to watch how these kids go about their business. And while it may not be a business to them, make no mistake, we’d all be a lot more successful if we approached our business with the same zeal.

Being able to observe the Cub Scouts, I feel like if we can apply the following five things to our time at the Expo we'll have a much more successful, and profitable, day.

Set Goals.

The cub scouts themselves don't set the goals but their leaders definitely set sales goals for the kids. We should do the same, otherwise how will we know if the day is a success or not?

Dress the part, wear your uniform.

How likely is it that you would buy popcorn from some random kid that comes up to you? But, you see a kid in uniform and automatically he's got credibility. What's your uniform? What will give you credibility in the eyes of your prospective clients? Think about that and make sure everyone who is representing your booth adheres to the dress code.


The Cub Scouts sell one product - popcorn. It's the perfect product for a number of reasons - everyone understands it, most people like it, it can be sold by the case or individually and it's relatively cheap.

What product can you offer to appeal to he broadest possible audience? Instead of overwhelming potential customers with everything that you do, why not pick a specific product with broad appeal and sell it to death?

Know your product. Develop a pitch.

The cub scouts have a pitch. Would you like to support our troop… yada, yada, yada. They know it. They say it over and over again.

So what's your pitch? It starts with knowing your product and how it appeals to the general consumer. Make it short and sweet. If it's a technical product make it as non-technical as possible. If it appeals to a certain audience (women or men) figure out how to make it appeal to a broader audience or figure out a hook to at least get them to listen.

Be aggressive.

The cub scouts are tenacious. Seriously. If you walk anywhere near their space, you get attacked by multiple scouts. Obviously, you can't just attack people. You're not cute enough for that. But that doesn't mean that you can't be aggressive.

When people walk by, try to engage them. There's nothing I hate more than going to an expo and seeing participants sitting behind the table talking on their phone or gazing off into the distance mentally counting the minutes until their shift is over. And it happens often. Too often. You might as well not even waste your time or money if you aren't going to at least try to make eye contact with folks walking by.

Set Goals. Dress the part, wear your uniform. Focus. Know your product. Develop a pitch. Be aggressive.

And no, giving away candy or pens is not being engaging. If you're going to give something away, make them earn it.

There are more things to consider when it comes to setting up at a trade show - materials, booth, follow up. But I feel like if we apply the five principles above we'll all have a successful Expo.


Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bike/2972560997/sizes/m/in/photostream/

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  • G. Brad Hopkins
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