14 of the Best Trade Show Marketing Strategies

Businesses attend trade shows to learn what is happening in their industry, gain brand recognition, generate leads, and sell products. Trade shows are the second most-cited source of new product/service information among small to medium-sized businesses. In order to ensure you receive the best ROI for the trade show, it’s imperative to properly plan, develop and implement your marketing tactics. Below we’ve provided you with the 14 of the best trade show marketing tactics.

1. Create a comprehensive trade show marketing strategy plan of attack 

Determine…

  • What your goals are
  • Which strategies you’re going to implement
  • Which tactics you’ll use to ensure the best ROI
  • All the necessary steps involved (including costs) to implement your tactics

2. Let current customers and prospective customers know you’ll be at the show 

  • Email/ Direct mail: Create an email or direct mail campaign one month before the show and request they set up a meeting with you.
  • Social Media Campaign: Create a social media campaign across all of your profiles, starting one month in advance of the show (posting at least once/week), and create excitement, interest & request they set up a meeting with you.
  • Newsletter & Blog: Use your newsletter & blog to spread the word and request a meeting.

Important: You can offer an incentive within your communication tactic by stating what “giveaway” or “contest” you’ll be running during the show. Be sure to have the call to action present – ideally “set up an appointment to meet at the show” (use a “button” with a link to a landing page with form).

3. Update your website, blog, newsletter and social media profiles

This is super important and cannot be overlooked. Make sure that your website is “top notch” and is updated with current information and the design/functionality is modern.

  • Enhance/ Increase call to actions: Keep your website interesting to keep visitors engaged.
  • Beef up content: Look for sections of the website to add additional information to or beautify.
  • Review all USPs/ Value Propositions: Make sure these are clear, concise and compelling.
  • Add a section at the top of your home page describing your involvement in the trade show with a CTA button to schedule an appointment with you (directs to a landing page form).

4. Let the trade know you’ll be at the show…Create a press release

  • Create a press kit: A press kit, also known as a media kit, is a page on your website or a file you can send digitally, that contains resources and information for reporters and publishers. A press kit makes it easy for reporters to quickly learn about your product and brand, and access photos and marketing materials they can use in their content. There should also be a media office at the show where you can leave some hard copies of your press kit.
  • Write and send out a press release: A great way to get the word out that you’ll be exhibiting is to disseminate a press release to targeted industry outlets as well as local/regional outlets.

5. Analyze your competition

The trade show organizer will have a list of the other exhibitors at the show. You should review at least 3 of your ”competitors” and analyze how they’re promoting themselves before, during and after the show.

6. Update brochures & sell sheets

Review and update any and all marketing materials you intend to have at the show (e.g. copy, design, and layout).

7. Purchase “merch/swag” (Promotional Giveaways w/ Logo)

No matter what your budget is, this is simply a necessary evil when you exhibit. My strong suggestion is to make sure whatever you purchase for “merch”, has a large enough space so that your logo is front and center. Even better is if you can add your website, email address and phone number.

8. Seek out speaking/ presenting opportunities

One of the best ways to attract attention is if you speak or present at a trade show. Many people are intimidated by presenting, but if you are well-prepared with a good slide presentation, it’s very easy to implement and the ROI can be extremely effective. Once you’ve secured a spot to
present, make sure you publicize and promote your participation wherever you can!

9. Cross Promote/ Collaborate with other exhibitors

This tactic offers a great opportunity to spread the word about your booth & company. Sometimes attendees may ask you if you provide a particular product or service that you don’t offer, but it’s a big plus if you can refer them to someone who can help them! Identify other companies with services or products that you don’t offer but complement your business. The goal is for the other exhibitor(s) to have marketing materials available on your product/service and you to have theirs.

10. Run a Contest

Implement a raffle at the show. Have a fishbowl and ask for business cards with the understanding that on the last day of the show you’ll choose one lucky winner for X (make it worthy of them putting a business card in. This raffle can be discussed before the show in all of your communications to make your booth seem more exciting!

11. Capture your booth activity for post-trade show marketing

  • Capture the action at your booth by taking quality pictures (and video if possible) and interviewing people. Make sure you ask permission for you to use their picture/interview in your marketing and PR communications.
  • I suggest having a quick & easy release form for participants to sign – get their full names, title, Company.
  • Be sure to make good use of your pictures and interviews “post-show” by including them on your website, post-show press releases, social media, blog, newsletter, etc…

12. Signage, backdrop, tablecloths, etc..

Make sure you’ve prepared and created these items way in advance. If you’re using an overseas
company, they have very long shipping lead times.

13. Send a post-show Press Release

Exhibiting offers a very newsworthy press release to send out. Don’t miss this opportunity to get your company into trade publications. And of course make sure you include your photos, videos and any interviews from the show.

14. Get/ Email the list of attendees

Organizers of show/event can usually get you this shortly after the show ends. May cost a bit of money, but worth it. Send them your post-show press release and get them into your email nurture campaign of “good” viable leads.

Simply reading these strategies will NOT help get the ROI you need! It’s imperative that you implement most of these strategies. If you need any assistance at all preparing for a trade show, please feel free to reach out…We’re always happy to help!

Danielle Foley, President
Foley Marketing Advisors
dfoley@foleymarketingadvisors.com

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