How to Get Started and Land Lucrative Gigs as a Promotional Model

Article Image
Photo Source: Maksim Toome/Shutterstock

Calling all extroverts! Promotional modeling requires a marketing mindset, a conversational presence, and persuasive personality. If that sounds like you, check out the guide below and you’ll be confidently walking the convention floor in no time.

What is a promotional model?

A promotional model—also known as a promo model or spokesmodel—works with a brand to advertise its product or service. Similar to a brand ambassador, this role focuses on building awareness and enticing interest on behalf of a client, showcasing product benefits to generate excitement, influence buyers, and ultimately boost sales. 

Promotional modeling takes place at live events such as trade shows, corporate events, conventions, and other in-person gatherings with large audiences. You'll either walk the event floor or station at your client’s booth, engaging attendees by performing live demos, answering audience questions, and handing out free samples. 

How are promotional models different from traditional models?

This niche performs a different role than models in the traditional sense. While both are tasked with enticing consumers and influencing purchasing decisions, promo models do this through face-to-face marketing. In contrast, traditional models do not interact directly with the public; instead, they create buzz through photographs and marketing campaigns.

Cultivating and maintaining a distinct look is less important for promotional modeling; rather, brands put more emphasis on hiring outgoing, friendly personalities to connect with consumers. Depending on the product or service, some clients may look to hire spokesmodels that naturally reflect a certain aesthetic, such as a sports company partnering with athletic body types or cosmetic brands preferring those with glowing skin. Appearance aside, promotional models are expected to have good health and physical stamina, since the position often requires long hours of standing, walking, and making connections. 

Skills needed to be a promotional model

Spokesmodeling requires a unique skill set to successfully attract potential customers at an in-person event. There are a few musts, including:

  • Extroverted personality: Every guest won’t necessarily visit every booth at a trade show, even if they’re interested in the industry. Promo models must go out of their way to bring people in with their charisma
  • Strong verbal communication: Public speaking skills make or break a promotional model. You must be able to persuasively share product details and answer questions with enthusiasm, clarity, and patience. 
  • Attention to detail: Promo models often have to memorize long lists of unique selling points and relay them accurately. Running a booth also takes organization and constant tidying to keep things presentable. 
  • Physical stamina: Trade shows require long hours of standing and walking, so promotional models must be in good shape.
  • Positive thinking: This job has rejection baked in. When people pass on your pitch or ignore your booth altogether, you need to quickly brush it off and move on to the next target with good spirits.

How to get started in promotional modeling

Promo models

photopixel/Shutterstock

To build a promotional modeling career, you’ll need to start with a few key assets. 

Professional photos: When looking for gigs or representation, you’ll need a few good photos that capture your personality. You don’t necessarily need a professionally shot portfolio, but you should aim for one solid headshot and one full-body photo. Clients want to see the real you, so steer clear of digital touch-ups or filters. Similarly, style yourself in a professional yet natural look, wearing clothes that highlight your shape without being too revealing, and hair and makeup that reflect your everyday appearance. Because promotional models appear in person, it’s important to present yourself as how you’d look on the job. 

Intro video: Filming a 30-second introduction video helps potential clients get a feel for your personality and communication skills. Aim to film a new intro for every gig; if you have any personal experience with the brand, this is a great opportunity to showcase your enthusiasm and knowledge for the product or service. Record your video in a well-lit area with minimal background noise. Pretend you’re talking to a potential buyer to showcase your inviting, persuasive personality. 

Résumé: Traditional resumes can be used for promotional modeling gigs with just a few industry-specific additions: Emphasize any customer service experience you have and include your body measurements and clothing sizing for uniforms. 

Social media following: Even though promotional modeling gigs take place in person, having a social media following proves you’re able to connect with an audience. Posting product videos to your feed illustrates your communication and presentation skills while giving clients an additional view into your personality. Your follower count won’t be a deal breaker in landing jobs, but it never hurts to have additional tools at your disposal. 

How to find promotional model gigs 

The two main ways to find promotional modeling gigs are by working with a modeling or staffing agency and applying for events independently. 

Connecting with a modeling or staffing agency is a great way to find work because it gives you access to their industry networks. They can match you with brands or event locations that fit your interests or availability. Agencies can also help you negotiate ongoing contracts with clients, should the opportunity arise. 

Different agencies specialize in different niches, so look for teams that focus on: 

  • Promotional modeling 
  • Trade show modeling 
  • Event staffing 
  • Marketing staffing 

After researching and meeting with agents, you can add a profile to their event database. This profile should include your photos, resume, videos, and any other relevant details. Promotional models don’t have to sign exclusive representation to any one agency, so submit your information to any team that feels like a good fit. 

Promotional models can also apply to events independently. The process of looking for work on your own is similar to hunting for other jobs, which includes searching through online job boards like Backstage. Try connecting with event recruiters on social media or checking local venues for upcoming conventions or trade shows. Certain events will post jobs on their website so you can apply directly. Use the same “promotional modeling” keywords listed above to see what’s available in your area.

Tips for promotional models

Promo model

Smile19/Shutterstock

Do your homework: Your client will likely give you scripted talking points on what you’ll be promoting, but doing additional research ahead of the event provides advantages when you’re out on the floor. As a promo model, your audience will view you as a subject matter expert, so investigating past questions or forums about the product or service will help you feel prepared for any left-field inquiries. 

Rest and pack for travel: Working a trade show makes for a long, exhausting day. Be sure to get plenty of sleep the night before and pack a day-of bag full of items to keep you comfortable and energized. Consider packing: 

  • Water bottle or insulated coffee mug
  • Small snacks that aren’t messy, smelly, or in need of refrigeration 
  • Grooming items such as deodorant, cosmetics, or breath mints 
  • Sunscreen (if the event is outside) 
  • Comfortable shoes or shoe insoles 

You should also review your travel instructions and build in extra time in case of traffic, parking, or getting around unfamiliar areas. 

Arrive early: Promotional models should expect to arrive at least one hour before the event begins for behind-the-scenes preparation. This may include setting up microphones, rehearsing talking points, or familiarizing yourself with the product in person. Showing up late reflects poorly on you and can lead to a frazzled performance. 

Don’t give up: Unlike traditional models who can’t directly see the effects of their work, you’ll likely experience rejection straight to your face. Don’t take brush-offs to heart. Not every customer is meant for every product, but your persistence will pay off once you start making connections.