Maximizing Your Trade Show Marketing Opportunity

Trade shows are back. Although things might look a little different coming out of a pandemic year, we know that in the weeks leading up to a show, there are always increasing responsibilities on your plate. With the same number of hours in the day to get it all done, making your work count leading up to a trade show is extra important. 

Trade show planning can be overwhelming, especially when all of the other demands of your job keep on demanding. It can be easy to get caught up on rental deadlines, swag orders and event registrations; meanwhile forgetting that everything needs to link back to the most important part of a trade show – a marketing strategy established to support your company’s goals. 

Here are 5 steps to help you get there. 

Step 1: Identify the best shows for your industry 

Identify an industry or audience-specific trade show that makes sense for your business. For example, if you’re in the energy industry, you might look to organizations like Hart Energy, Oil and Gas Journal, or Permian Basin Association of Pipeliners.  

Trade shows should relate to your industry and benefit your business goals. Do your research on what could be the best fit/hold the maximum potential for return on event attendance. Historically, do your customers attend the event in consideration? Are your competitors posting on social media about an upcoming show that’s not currently on your radar? 

Step 2Define goals 

Sit down with your team and discuss some SMART goals for the trade show. Throughout the entire event lifecycle, your goals and objectives should be in alignment with your company strategy. What is your purpose for being at the show? Some companies will reveal a new product, show off new branding, or have a specific sales quota to meet. No matter your goal, everything done at the show should be part of your established trade show strategy.  

Step 3: Market yourself 

Even with the best booth at the event, if you’re tucked away in the back corner of the trade show floor and no one knows to look out for you, a major opportunity is missed. In the weeks leading up to a tradeshow, use email marketing and social media to share your plans to attend with key players and prospects in your industry. 

Step 4: Make an impression 

Does your booth banner look like you tried to enlarge your brochure? It’s time for an upgrade. Trade show attendees walk aisles all day and encounter hundreds of booth designs. Yours will need to make an impact in a matter of seconds. Don’t make your audience work too hard to figure you out, keep things focused with a clearly stated value proposition. Similarly, champion those brand standards to ensure consistent and cohesive booth design, marketing materials and swag. 

Step 5Follow up 

Your job isn’t done when the exhibit floor is cleared, even if you didn’t splurge for the double padded carpet and your feet are killing you. Develop a plan to follow up with booth visitors. Sit down with your team to discuss the outcome of your efforts. Continue to track your results even after the trade show has ended. 

Ultimately, a successful trade show is a well-planned trade show. Take the time to craft a strategy and communicate it to your team before the event. Follow through with a post-show plan. Whether you are the largest booth on the floor, complete with a row of baristas preparing grab and go espresso shots, or you have a budget that barely allows for plastic pen giveaways, taking the time to develop and execute a marketing strategy delivers tangible, measurable results. A thoughtfully planned and executed approach to trade show marketing is a sure bet to generating ROI in the days and weeks following the show.