The Complete Guide To Marketing Success At A Trade Show

*This posted is contributed by Beth Jones

Whatever line of business you are in, it’s almost guaranteed that there is a trade show, fair, or event for that industry. And, make no mistake about it, they can be exceptional for generating leads and making sales for your company. The trick is to ensure your marketing works so that you get the best return on your investment as possible. After all, the costs of setting up at a trade fair can be steep – so it’s essential that you get something for your money.

In today’s guide, we’re going to go through how to make sure your event goes off with a bang – and gives you the significant return that you need. Just going there to make up the numbers isn’t going to cut it – you’ll need to work hard, be clever, and have focus. But, follow this guide, and you should be well prepared. Let’s get stuck in straight away.

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Choose the right event

There are plenty of events to attend – but choosing the right one is vital. Head over here for a closer look – Don’t assume that going to the biggest trade show in your industry will bring success. Often, smaller companies will be eaten alive by the major players. You might find yourself stuck out on the sidelines, or with a stall that is overwhelmed by your competitors. So, it can often be the case that smaller companies will have better success at the smaller events. As long as they have a good media profile and bring in some big names, they will be worthwhile.

Fix your goals

First of all, it’s important to answer one question. Why do you want to go to the trade show? There are plenty of possibilities for you, from networking to professional development. But, to get a return on your investment, you will need to be clear about what constitutes success. Do you want to make some sales? If so, how many? Are you looking for more product exposure or more leads? If so, how many signups to your email newsletter will signify a real return? Get your target in place by looking at case studies by businesses like yours. Also, make sure that you note down who the other stalls are, and see which media outlets are covering the event. If you can bag an interview with a journalist, it could give you instant ROI in one easy hit. But, if you don’t know who is there – or why they are there – then it will be hard to get in contact with them on the day. Research and planning are essential in all aspects of business, of course. But, when you are spending big money on a one or two-day event, it is critical to make it worthwhile.

Get an awesome stand

Looks are everything when it comes to great marketing at a trade event. It’s important to stand out – for the right reasons, of course. If you can afford it, we would advise getting some custom-made stands for your show of choice. There’s some great info on why this is beneficial here – If you can’t push to a custom design, then invest what you can into great signage. You need to attract attention, and it’s a great way of getting your company name into photos of the event. While the initial cost can be significant, if you can use your sign over and over again, it will bring in extra value.

Invest in marketing materials

You should also invest in marketing materials to make sure that everything you give out gets a reading later in the day. Business cards are essential, of course. But, you should also think about brochures, flyers, discount leaflets and anything else you can think of. Try promotional goods, too. Branded pens are ten a penny – but people love them because they are useful. You can also try handing out USB sticks with your brand name on them. Again, people use these all the time. And, of you are a software company, you could also think about loading a lite version of your program on there for customers to try.


Train your staff

Any employees that go with you have to understand what they are doing. You can invest all the money in the world to give off a good impression, but without the words and actions to back it up, it will be for nothing. Prepare a one-liner that describes your company and make sure everyone can memorize it. Also, make sure that you bring your great talkers with you – people that are good with other people. They have to understand your goals, and get out there and work the floor. Especially if you find yourself stuck in the outskirts of the event. If everyone knows their jobs, they will be better at getting the right results.

Go to talks

Trade shows are also great for learning new info about your industry. So,.make sure that you take some time to see what is going on and see some talks. It will give you an excellent opportunity to see what the market leaders are doing. Not only that, of course, but it will give you a lot of inspiration. If you hear the ways that others present their ideas, there’s no reason you can’t do the same yourself. So, next time you head to a trade show, why not go for a speaking gig? Nothing will give you more exposure at these kinds of events.


Of course, the key to success at a trade show is all about what happens later on. You have to make sure that you follow up every last lead and any inquiry. It’s vital to get names and contact numbers and addresses of anyone that expresses an interest. Once you return to your office, you have to use those details. Don’t be pushy, just be friendly, polite, and tell your contacts it was nice meeting them. If they want to know any more about you and your company, it will give them the perfect opportunity to get in touch with you.

Good luck with the trade show – and let us know how you get on!

By John-Shea

Internet Marketing Entrepreneur

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