I have been to my fair share of trade shows in the past. There were some booths were super impressive, some that were decent and then there were some that just made you think, “why was there no effort put into it?”

There was one booth in particular that stood out to me, but for the wrong reasons. It was literally a folding table covered with a blue tablecloth, a stack of application fill out forms and a cup of free pens with the company’s logo on it. Those three things. If I can sum up a booth in only three things, it’s probably not a good trade show booth. People need colors, pictures and any kind of visual stimulation in order to fully see and understand what product or service your company is offering.

Now, I don’t have the jubilant personality and charisma of a top-notch salesperson, but I do understand how important visuals are when representing your company and appealing to potential customers.

Here is a tale of an inexperienced 12-year-old me using this sales tactic to my advantage:

To start, I have naturally curly hair. Not the soft, silky waves that cascades gently down my shoulders -kind, but the tough as nails, spiral out of control, tight ringlets that you have to haphazardly jam a hairbrush through to comb -kind. It’s not fun trying to wrestle this wild animal on my head into submission every morning but it was a daily struggle I had to deal with.

So one night, my sister and I were watching TV, and an infomercial came on for a new hair styling tool that promises to turn any type of curly hair stick straight. I just HAD to have that awesome spinning brush thingy and I thought I was going die without it. So, with my sister’s help, we both sprang into action.

I ran into the bathroom to tease and muss up my hair even more while my sister woke up my dad snoring on the couch.

“Dad, wake up! There is a hair thing on TV that Dorothy really needs,” she exclaims.

And here, I made a grand entrance. I walked somberly up to the couch with my curly hair reaching the high heavens and with a sad puppy face.

From my dad’s perspective, he sees two things in front of him: a depressed 12-year-old with hair that looks like she just stuck her finger into an electrical socket, and the TV commercial featuring a model swishing her sleek, straight hair back and forth with a winning smile. The visual comparison is so crystal clear that he knew deep down inside what was the right choice to make. Thus, he got on the phone at 2:00AM and ordered the magical brush for me!

Anyone who knows my strict dad would see that this was quite an accomplishment. Honestly, if I was to just sit him down at a table and tell him in words why I needed the brush, he probably would’ve just ignored me and ordered me to go upstairs to finish my homework. However, with the power of visual images through the makeshift demonstration my sister and I gave, he was able to gauge for himself the before and after effect of what the hairbrush can do. Score!

So for your next trade show booth, put yourself in the potential customers’ perspective. What exactly is the product? How do you use it? Can you give a demonstration? Does your product come in different colors or styles? Show them that your company has more to offer than just a cup of free pens.