Effectively Communicate with Your Audiences on the Trade Show Floor

Derse | April 25, 2023

At any given trade show, your exhibit will be accessible and visible to anywhere from hundreds to thousands of visitors.

But if you’re not actively trying to provide information in a digestible form for them, they probably won’t take the time to learn more about your company and its offerings.

Here’s why this matters: if attendees aren’t spending time with you at a trade show, they are spending time with your competitors. The good news is that you can plan for these learning styles and design a trade show experience that reaches each kind of attendee.

There’s a helpful framework called Skimmers, Swimmers, and Deep Divers which highlights the way different groups of your audience like to take in information. Some simply want the short and sweet bullet points; they aren’t willing to spend more than a few minutes learning about your offering. Others are looking for more information – they are more willing to devote their time and attention to hear from you. And some are ready to go all-in and learn every last piece of information you have to share.

Now, that we’ve got you hooked, let’s take a look at how you can lure your attendees at a trade show with the concept of Skimmers, Swimmers, and Deep Divers.

trade show experiential marketing


Skimmers thrive on the trade show floor. Looking for quick-hit, bite-sized information, the ease of bouncing from one exhibit to the next gives them the chance to learn about many different products, services, and companies at a surface level.

Skimmers likely won’t invest much time in your booth, but that doesn’t make their attention less valuable. Instead, they are consuming information about a vast number of companies and assessing for themselves how they want to proceed with their information gathering process.

  • Keep it simple: One of the most effective ways to grab the attention of someone with a short attention span is to keep things simple. Don't try to overload your graphics with too much information or clutter.
  • Provide interactive experiences: People with short attention spans often crave stimulation, so give them something to interact with. This could be anything from a virtual reality experience to a simple game that they can play. The goal is to create an experience that is both engaging and memorable. Giving them something in return for the attention and time they are willing to give to you goes a long way. Memorable experiences do just that, without being overly salesy.
  • Offer something to-go: You might not have their lasting, full attention now, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t have it later. By sending them home with some kind of physical, digital, or mental souvenir from your exhibit, you stand the chance of making a lasting impression.
trade show customer experience marketing


Swimmers have often narrowed down their list of the most qualified partners, so they aren’t simply wondering if you have the capabilities to meet their needs – they likely already know that you do. Instead, they visit your exhibit to personally get to know you more and get a better idea of what it would be like to partner with you on a regular basis.

Swimmers want to learn more about your offerings, but don’t give them the generic information they can find on your website. Since they probably aren’t locked in on you or your product yet, help them feel confident that you could be a future partner by giving a tailored perspective on the value your capabilities can provide them with.

  • Deepen their trust: Swimmers know that you can meet their needs, but now is the chance to show them just how great your products and services are. Product displays and demos are the perfect opportunity to give attendees the confidence that your products are dependable, functional, and exactly what they’re looking for.
  • Show them what a relationship could look like: Put your best foot forward by choosing the right staff members who will accurately represent your company’s customer experience. If you’re tempted to send the same employees who always go to the trade shows, take a step back in the planning process and consider if they are the best fit for this show. Your staff will be the most important element of giving Swimmers the chance to see what it would look like to work with you.
  • Offer them something they couldn’t get anywhere else: Much like creating an interactive experience for Skimmers, offer your Swimmers something they couldn’t find anywhere else – whether that’s on the trade show floor, on your website, or in a store. Creating a moment they won’t want to miss is essential to maintaining their attention.
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Deep Divers

Trade shows are a great way for you to showcase your products and services to potential customers. However, Deep Divers are looking for more than just a quick overview of what you offer. Cater to their specific needs by creating an informative exhibit:

  • Provide detailed product information: The first step in creating an exhibit for Deep Divers is to provide detailed information about your products or services. Consider including spec sheets, white papers, case studies, and other materials that provide a deeper understanding of what you offer.
  • Bring expert staff and speakers: Send experts from your company to speak on specific topics related to your products or services. This could include product managers, engineers, designers, or executives who can provide a deeper understanding of how your products work and the benefits they offer.
  • Come prepared to answer their questions: Effectively training your staff will help them know how to engage with Deep Divers. In addition, educational resources, such as brochures, guides, or access to online platforms, are crucial for the Deep Diver who wants to continue to learn about your products and services after their trade show visit.

By creating a trade show exhibit that caters to Skimmers, Swimmers, and Deep Divers, you stand a chance in the competition for their attention on the trade show floor.

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If you’re looking for more resources on how you can further your audience in the sales funnel through your experiential marketing program, check out our eBook: Just Keep Swimming.

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