The AIDA Principle for Tradeshow Engagement

Posted 02/12/2015
The AIDA Principle for Tradeshow Engagement


If I had to mention one single characteristic of truly successful exhibitors, I would say it’s the ability and knowledge of how to strengthen an effective engagement strategy from one trade show to another.

Within the past 8 years, we have continuously focused on developing strategies that integrate the four most effective steps to lead tradeshow visitors into a buying decision: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action, also known as one acronym, AIDA.  Since late 1880s, when it first came in advertising, the concept has been used in live marketing and sales to describe the different stages of obtaining attention, evoking interest into services or products, increasing desire and prompting action into customers’ mind.

By using the AIDA principle, we helped many sales driven companies to create better strategies in live marketing environments. Here’s a quick overview of why it matters and how you can follow it to maximise your exhibition results.


Grabbing visitors’ attention at trade shows can be a real challenge for exhibitors that want to increase the footfall at their booth. The first 10 seconds of interaction are decisive when it comes to getting attention from the trade show attendees and there are 3 main elements that need to be addressed in order to attract attention:

  • Visual – Create campaigns and work with professionally looking people, who can attract visitors even before they know what the brand is about.
  • Auditory – What you say to people and how you say it, grabs attention and gives you the opportunity to take the conversation further.
  • Kinaesthetic – Creating a positive feeling and stirring emotions in visitors is a vital component in visitor engagement.

Building rapport with a prospect audience is part of matching the message you want to deliver at the booth with the visitors’ needs. People are responsive to one or more of the elements above and this is why a well-balanced strategy that involves appealing to all senses above will guarantee the most effective ways to attract the right kind of attention at your booth.

To grab visitor’s attention on a personal level, use staff that are proactive, engaging, motivated, trained, and – last but not least – dressed for success.

Of course an eye catching stand will help to get momentary attention, but unfortunately it will not talk to customers to get them to the next stage.


Having worked in tradeshows within the past 10 years, I have observed that inward orientated and open ended questions increase interest in your brand while you’re talking to a prospect.  It makes them reflect on their business and recall aspects that really matter to them for their daily operations.

It is important to understand who you want to attract and do business with. Ask yourself the following questions before the show:

  • Who is attending the event and who is your ideal customer?
  • What is their most pressing problem today?
  • What kind of solution are we offering to solve their problem? How, specifically, will it solve their issue?
  • How does my ideal customer target talk about their problems? What are powerful words or concepts that would immediately create resonance and grab their attention?

Once you know the answers to these questions, you can begin to prepare open questions that will engage the visitors in conversation, which will give the visitor compelling reasons to show interest in your solutions.


Once you have managed to engage the visitors, the most essential step that will actually lead them to learning more and ultimately buying from you is DESIRE.

This is where the 7-38-55 rule of NLP actually comes into place. 55% of your success in brand communication at trade shows is how you create this desire through body language and posture; 38% is making visitors want to know more by using the right type of people at your booth, with the right personality and saying the right things. What you or your staff actually say only counts up to 7% of an effective communication process in a live marketing environment. If people only tend to remember 5% of what you actually say at tradeshows, what is the message you want them to remember?

Creating DESIRE is about drawing prospects into a “yes” mind-set by making sure visitors like what they see, what they hear and what they can remember about you after the show. By matching solutions to the prospects problems, this will allow you to do just that.


Let’s imagine that through ATTENTION, INTEREST and DESIRE, your staff are qualifying tradeshow visitors and get them engaged at the booth. But where are you leading them to?

You will seldom make a sale there and then at the tradeshow, so my advice is to agree a follow up action after the tradeshow such as an appointment to review their current services, or sending out a quotation. You need to create a compelling reason to call them after the event.

Why use the AIDA principle?

The AIDA principle works in every live marketing approach and it takes a maximum of 2 minutes each time. Following all the elements above and proactively speaking to as many people walking past by the booth, makes it targeted, specific and measurable.  AIDA is not about a long drawn out sales pitch, there are no leaflets handed out and no time wasted with unqualified visitors.

If you are a long time exhibitor, you probably know by now that the exhibition environment is the most difficult one to sell in, as it’s never enough time to actually think about how to do it better or to get firmer results. If you are a new exhibitor, the investment and potential clients you add to your sales pipeline have to pay for your efforts and cash flow.

If we have proven that the AIDA principle works in the business to business tradeshow environment for more than 8 years, then it makes sense to give it a try!


Author: Lee Ali

Posted 02/12/2015