7 Tips for a Successful Trade Show

Posted on Oct 4, 2018 by Kerry O'Malley

industrial trade show marketingAnother trade show season is upon us. You may be preparing for one or more shows before the end of the year and are familiar with the many challenges posed. You may also know you need to invest a significant amount of time and money to make the most out of your next trade show. Following are some tips to ensure you get the most bang for the precious dollars and minutes you spend on each trade show.

1. Choose shows wisely

Make sure you are at the right trade show by reviewing the pre-show exhibitor list. Look for potential customers, and see which of your competitors will also be there. If the buyer prospect pool is too thin or the competition too deep, consider attending another show.

2. Consider booth location

Most trade shows offer premium booth locations, such as the end of an aisle, sometimes for an added charge. Look into this as early as possible if you are willing to shell out the extra cash. These locations can often sell out fast; which is extremely telling as to their value. In fact, some trade shows have a grandfather policy for their most desired locations, which is good to know as well. If you exhibit at the same trade show every year, you may have extra leverage when it comes to these locations.

3. Have a prospect contact strategy

Your team should be using a detailed approach to analyze the list of prospects in advance of the show. Get to know their names, and don’t be afraid to contact them before the show to introduce your company and even request a face to face meeting at the trade show. Once you do know who to speak to, assign a member of your team to each to ensure they make contact with each prospect who will be at the show.

4. Plan your talking points

If your company’s product range is broad, be sure to communicate to your team which products you’ll be featuring at the show, and what messaging they should use when speaking to prospects. Know what your prospect wants and open with a specific benefit that can benefit their organization. It’s especially useful if you have a statistic such as, “I see your company spends $X on power. Our X product uses 40% less power than traditional models, which would save you $X per year.” 

5. Design your booth for your audience

The Apple Store looks great from the outside, but the lack of products inside can be off-putting to some consumers. On the flip side, don’t clutter your space, and make sure there are areas where visitors can easily stand and chat with booth personnel. When planning your booth design, make sure it has the right look for your target audience. For example, some booths may have designs geared toward millennials. However, if your typical customer is older than that, have something that will appeal to them.

6. Be ready to meet and greet

You should have a booth host (or more) who is trained to answer any simple to complex questions your visitors may have. They should also know who to direct visitors to should they need to speak to a specific department, or subject matter expert. Consider having a receptionist if your booth has several sections so that he or she can direct visitors as needed.

7. Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up!

The show may be over, but your marketing campaign is not. Begin by compiling a list of contacts met at the trade show, their information, interests, and anything else they may have mentioned. Break the list down by the products or services they are interested in. Further break it down by what kind of commitment they made at the trade show, such as a request for more information, a phone call, etc. Assign the follow up tasks to appropriate team members and have them keep track of their follow-up progress. Contacts who did not give specific instructions should be followed up with as well with a strategy such as:

  • An email thanking them for spending time at your booth, without asking for anything.
  • An email asking for feedback, to complete a survey, or similar call to action. Give an incentive for doing so.
  • Personalized thank-you’s from the contact at your company who met with the prospective buyer.

Following these tips can help you get more exposure at a trade show at all levels. Be sure to keep records of all trade show interactions as a plan of action for next year’s trade shows so you will know what to keep and what to change.


Author: Kerry O'Malley


Marketects was founded in 1999 by Kerry O’Malley, a proven marketing communications professional in international, manufacturing companies. Working on the “other side of the desk,” she hired ad agencies to manage her employers’ advertising and P/R programs. Frustrated over the lack of attention and level of enthusiasm she was looking for in the marketing agencies she worked with, Kerry realized that there was a definite need for a full-service marketing firm that specialized in working with industrial companies. She resolved that her clients would always receive the highest level of service possible and never feel like the last kid chosen for the team.

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