5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Sports Show Booth

Hopefully the sports show season will be in full swing during 2022. Here are a handful of ideas for making the most of your time in front of current and prospective customers.

5 Ways to Make the Most  of Your Sports Show Booth

Sports shows, both trade and consumer, are your opportunity to show off your company’s products in person.

After being cooped up for so long, I’m sure there are more than a few people out there who are chomping at the bit to get back to our regular scheduled program as far as sports shows go. There is just nothing like in-person face-to-face interactions with both customers and potential colleagues. It puts a face and personality to the name of your business, and builds connection with those around you. New friendships are created, relationships are solidified, and we all grow together. Not to mention, it’s just nice seeing one another and downing a burger, right?

Utilizing the opportunities that come with sports shows, both trade and consumer, is not all just about smiles and handshakes. Having a solid sports show booth and strategy within that show booth, will help elevate your gain at these events. So, in light of the coming sports show season, let’s go over five ways to make the most of your booth.


1. Giveaways

Some years back, I remember helping my wife out at a trade show for her wedding photography business here in Arizona. We were getting a fair amount of traffic, but noticed one booth in particular that was getting slammed. Turned out, they were doing a giveaway for a free wedding photography package. Both of us looked at one another and gave the ol’ “hmm.” I think you can guess at this point what we did the following trade show, and it worked.

Ok, so I know that wedding photography doesn’t exactly line up with the outdoor industry, but the same principles apply. When we get down to brass tacks, people like free stuff, and they like knowing that they’ve got a chance at winning something. So, think about hosting a giveaway for one or more of your products. This offers a fantastic opportunity to get folks in your booth, especially if you’re a new archery company, and nobody knows who you are yet. You’ve got to get the word out somehow about what you’re trying to sell, so what better way than giving that very thing away for free to one lucky someone? It’ll put more eyes on your booth and keep people coming back. And while that is happening, you’ll have the opportunity to engage with them and start a relationship. Good products sell, but good relationships sell even more.

Don’t just think that this giveaway thing lives and dies with your booth alone. Why not collaborate with some like-minded companies and do one big giveaway together? It’ll create a circle of traffic between all of your booths and everyone accomplishes the same thing, all while uniting under the same roof. Doing so can help strengthen relationships inside and outside of the industry.

Communication is a two-way street. Be ready to talk, but more importantly listen, during your time working in a sports show booth.
Communication is a two-way street. Be ready to talk, but more importantly listen, during your time working in a sports show booth.

2. The A-Team

These events are largely social gatherings; a place for people to meet, greet and see some great gear in the process. Because these revolve around being social, it’s important the people working your booth are a reflection of that. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked up to a booth and nobody said anything to me. Someone is taking the time to check out what you’ve got to offer, and you won’t take the time to exchange conversation? That’s overall bad business, but more specifically doesn’t do well for your booth at these sports shows.

So, what’s the solution? It’s the A-Team, and I’m not talking about calling upon Mr. T. I’m talking about trying to make sure the people in your booth are the best of the best in terms of communication. You want guys and gals who can hold a conversation and aren’t afraid to talk to folks they don’t know. Now is not the time to put the quiet guy to work. When someone stops by your booth, you can bet what’s in your checking account that the people in the booth will leave an impression on them, and have an ultimate effect on how they see your company. Them leaving with a bad taste in their mouth isn’t going to look good on your end. They’ll tell their friends, and then their friends will tell their friends, etc. By having sociable people who are welcoming, you’ll ensure the things they are saying are good, even if they never buy something from you. They might influence someone else to down the road, though.

People can choose from a lot of good companies and gear. Many times people are buying products from a certain company, not just because of the product, but because of the people who make it. They identify with the company and want to support them.

3. Demonstrations

Years ago I was strolling through one of our outdoor sports shows with my wife. We weren’t planning on buying anything. Our plan was to just make a morning of checking out all of the booths and exchanging some chit chat, of course. As we were making our way down one of the many aisles, I saw flames out of the corner of my eye. It caught my attention right away. The closer we got, it all started to make sense. This gentleman had created his own flint and steel design. He was starting mini fires right there in the booth within the confines of a small and safe area they made specifically for this. After seeing the flint and steel demo up close, I ended up walking out of that joint with a new flint and steel. The demonstration sold me. I still have that flint and steel. It rides in my backpack on every outing.

The best sports show booths showcase products in use whenever possible.
The best sports show booths showcase products in use whenever possible.

When someone sets up a booth at a sports show, their intentions revolve around getting the word out about their business, and ultimately selling something in the future, or even right then and there. What better way to educate others on what is so good about your product then showing them? We live in a very visual society, and while words hold weight, actions speak even louder. It doesn’t have to be flashy (literally) like the flint and steel fella, but it does have to be worthwhile. For instance, if you’re selling a backpack, have sandbags on hand at the show. Load up packs with weight to show people why your pack stands tall above the rest. Heck, let them even try it out so they can see and feel for themselves.

Or maybe knives are your thing. Demonstrate what is so special about your knives. Are they supposed to be stronger than all? Razor sharp? Whatever it is, show it. A buddy of mine did just that at a show not too many years back. He was shaving the hair off of his arm to show how sharp their knives were even after heavy use. The dude sold a lot of knives then and still does. Seeing is believing.


4. Utilize Social Media at the Show

The digital age. Like it or not, these are the times we are living in; a time where everyone and their mother is on social media, broadcasting small bits of their life to the world. Be it what they’re having for breakfast or showing off a saucy photo they took of an epic landscape, folks feel compelled to share what they’ve got going on. That doesn’t end with just being social, either. Businesses are built off of platforms such as Instagram and YouTube. No longer does one need to put boots to the ground in order to get the word out about their company.

I remember helping my dad fold flyers for his painting business when I was a kid. Those days are long gone. All people need to do now is put fingers to the keyboard and they’re out there. Knocking on doors? Nope, just send a DM (direct message) or create an ad. There is no denying at this point that social media is a new normal for us. It isn’t going anywhere.

So, what does this have to do with sports shows? The point of social media, at least one of the points, is to share what you’ve got going on at the time in order to connect with others. In turn, you will meet more like-minded individuals, meaning more people will see what you’re sharing. Here’s the deal: While at these sports shows, either trade or consumer shows, why not share in real time the happenings of the event? Take short videos of your booth via IG stories and encourage people to come talk to you. Post up any specials or giveaways you might be doing at the event in your feed. This is a fantastic opportunity to spread the word about that stuff.

Do a small tour of the show to give people who aren’t there a taste of what they’re missing. While you’re at it, tagging the location and using the show’s hashtag might bring even more traffic to your booth. These don’t have to be super polished videos, either. In fact, there is something to be said about raw footage in the moment. It offers a behind-the-scenes type of experience.

So, use social media to your advantage. How often do you get the opportunity to interact with mass quantities of potential customers in person? It’s one of a few opportunities where the public can put not only a face, but a personality, to the name of your brand. You’ll educate more people about the sports show, as well as what you and your business are all about. By doing so, more people will be able to identify with your company. Even if they don’t end up coming to the show, maybe they start following you on social media, and they’ll catch you at the next one. If anything, they’ll look to you as a possible resource in the future, all because of a few taps and swipes on your phone. Plant the seed and let it grow.

A great way to keep your brand on the minds of hunters throughout the year is to sell or give away products during the show featuring your company’s name and logo.
A great way to keep your brand on the minds of hunters throughout the year is to sell or give away products during the show featuring your company’s name and logo.

5. Be Prepared to Take Orders

We are an impatient lot, aren’t we? At least we’ve grown into being impatient. With how ingrained instant gratification has become in our society, it’s easy to understand why. Whether it’s the ability to research anything and everything right at your fingertips, or it’s ordering that new something special from the comforts of your living room, it happens quick. Patience is indeed a virtue, but it is sadly waning from our way of life more and more each year.

With that being said, we can directly apply this “I want it now” mentality to the sports show experience we give others. It is astounding the number of times I’ve come across a booth that directs me to their website to buy something. Instead of taking my order right there, or even fulfilling it with product, they’re adding another step between me and what they’re offering. Let me ask you this: Why would one want to intentionally separate what they’re offering from a potential buyer? That doesn’t bode well for first impressions, and makes things harder for the customer right from the get-go. Instead of creating this blockade, be prepared to take orders right then and there. It’s you feeding the interest of your customers immediately, instead of making them starve and possibly getting sidetracked on something else to eat. This could be as simple as loading your website on an iPad and aiding them in the checkout process in person.


Final Thoughts

The overarching theme here when it comes to getting the most out of your sports show booth is simple, and that is caring. If a business owner  shows up with a glum-looking booth, fails to be personable, and doesn’t go the extra mile, well . . . they won’t get too far. By appearing as if you don’t care, then why should others care about what you’ve got going on?

These events are prime opportunities for marketing your business, and your booth should be a reflection of that. A person shouldn’t expect to receive great benefit from such things with minimal effort. In order to achieve great things, one needs to put in great effort. So, at the end of the day, it’s all on you.

After the doom and gloom of 2020 and much of 2021, I’m looking forward to this coming sports show season, booth chats, and of course, those burgers.

Photos by Josh Kirchner


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