6 Steps to Get the Most Out of Trade Shows

Exhibiting at in-person trade shows are an effective way to create brand awareness and reach your target market to make connections with potential new customers. In fact, trade shows are the second largest source of B2B revenue in the U.S.—industry events are full of potential new leads.

The benefits of trade shows come with tradeoffs—time and money. And there’s nothing worse than ending a show feeling like you got nothing out of it: little to no qualified leads, poor turnout, unsuccessful interactions with attendees, etc. Let’s go over six steps that can ensure your success when exhibiting at trade shows.

1. Identify the Right Shows to Attend

This may seem obvious, but it is crucial to research the shows in your industry and verify that they are positioned to attract your target audience. Not all visitors will be your ideal customer, but make sure a good portion of attendees would be interested in your product or services.

Secondly—location, location, location! Your options for trade shows range from meetings in cities throughout the U.S. to global industry events. You need to make sure a show’s location works for you and your team, AND is a destination that is accessible to your target audience. This means shows in attractive cities with international airports. 

Lastly, timing can determine if a show is right for you. Attend shows at  times where your team has the capacity to travel and spend their time working a booth and meeting with prospects as well as the time for pre- and post-show marketing.

Check out this article from The Trade Show network for more advice on how to select the perfect shows for your business.

2. Determine Your Level of Participation

Your level of participation at a show depends mostly on your budget. Determine how much you can spend. From there you can decide what to dole out that budget on—what size booth do you need? Do you want to formally sponsor the event? Do you need all new material and literature for the product(s) and/or service(s) you’re promoting?

The greater your participation, the more eyes that are on you at the event and the more potential leads you’ll walk away with. But there’s also nothing wrong with limited participation if that’s what works for you and your team. With the right preparation, you can still get the most out of every show.

3. Prepare to Tell Attendees Your Story

The average attendee spends 8.3 hours viewing exhibits, so you need to stand out and get your story across efficiently and effectively. 

Determine exactly what you want customers to know about your business and act accordingly. Ideally, you want attendees to leave knowing what challenge(s) your company can solve for them and how to get in contact with your team.

How do you want attendees to experience your story? Visually, your story can be portrayed through videos, presentations and booth design.

For a more interactive approach, you can include guest speakers, interactive technology (such as touch screen kiosks, virtual reality and more),  samples and/or prototypes using your products.

To create the best booth for your visitors, you need to determine what experiences will capture the attention of your ideal audience and best share your company and product stories.

What collateral do you want attendees to walk away from your booth with? There are various types of collateral you can provide at your booth:

  • Brochures
  • Sell sheets
  • Prototype cards
  • Business cards

Also, the use of QR codes at trade shows is becoming increasingly popular. Allowing attendees to go to your site and download materials or visit landing pages ensures your literature goes home with visitors and doesn’t end up in the trash. Plus, they can easily share your material via email.

4. Make Sure Your Team is Show-Ready

Who is representing your company at this event? Think about who has a comprehensive understanding of your products/services and is comfortable presenting that information to strangers. Consider your sales team; around 59% of marketers said that salespeople make the best booth staffers.

Have objectives prepared for your event and take time prior to prepare your team to meet them. For example:

  • Collect contact information from attendees
  • Schedule one-on-one meeting between attendees and your sales team
  • Pass out samples and gather feedback
  • Encourage attendees to scan QR codes to download collateral
  • Present every booth visitor with the benefits of your newest product

Your team needs to know why they’re there, so take the time to make expectations clear.

5. Pre-Show Marketing to Draw Your Ideal Attendees

It’s not uncommon for exhibitors to put so much focus on the show itself that they end up skimping on pre-show marketing and therefore miss out on the opportunity to attract their target audience to the event. Here are some simple ways to market before a trade show:

  • Send email drip campaigns
  • Post to social media 
  • Extend invites to your clients and partners
  • Share blogs and photos showcasing last year’s event (if you attended)
  • Leverage any pre-show marketing tools provided by the event organizer

In all communications, be sure to include date, time, link to the show organizer’s website and the location of your company’s booth, so attendees can make sure they see you specifically.

6. Post-Show Marketing & Follow Up

Communications after the event are just as important as before; following up with attendees is how you actually get business out of the show.

First, send a follow-up email to attendees as soon as possible while the event is still fresh in their minds. For reference, 40% of exhibitors follow up on leads between three to five days after the show. You’re not going to get an immediate response from everyone, especially as most attendees are being contacted by numerous exhibitors. Be patient and send follow ups as needed. In these emails, reiterate what challenges your product/service can solve and suggest scheduling a meeting to further discuss.

Some leads from your trade show will be stronger than others. Follow up with the strongest leads via a phone call or LinkedIn message from your sales team. Give sales as much information as possible about your interaction with these leads at the event, so they can personalize their communications to each lead.

Lastly, leverage your experience at the trade show to create content. Photos and your team’s experiences can be turned into blogs and social media posts. Plus, this content can be used again for pre-show marketing if you choose to attend that event again.

When preparing for and attending trade shows, you invest a lot of resources. Be sure to follow these steps to make the most out of trade shows. 

At ColinKurtis, a food, health and nutrition advertising agency, our team can help you develop a trade show strategy. From designing your booth to developing a campaign for pre- and post-show marketing to getting you qualified leads—we do it all. 

Contact Mitch Robinson at Mitch@colinkurtis.com or call 815.965.6657 EXT. 1 to set up an appointment.

Blog post from:

Valette Piper-Bledsoe

Valette Piper-Bledsoe
Vice President, Client Services


By | 2023-02-06T20:03:38+00:00 February 6th, 2023|Branding, Uncategorized|0 Comments

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