Participating in trade shows is a great way for your business to gain exposure and to meet prospective clients. Trade shows can be however expensive and time-consuming. To ensure trade show success, you need to gain the maximum return on investment from your participation in a trade show it is imperative to think and plan strategically. The following best practices provide a foundation for planning for trade show success.


Here Are 5 Best Practices For Trade Show Success


1. Start planning now.

Planning a successful trade show event requires a significant financial and time investment. To ensure this investment provides an acceptable return, you must allow adequate time for needed planning and preparation. This includes trade show booth design and creation, design, and printing of marketing collateral, purchasing of promotional items and giveaways, as well as initiating pre-show marketing activities, and making travel arrangements. We suggest creating a formal trade show plan and schedule and getting started immediately.


2. Establish goals for the event.

Begin by establishing goals for the event. Do you want to introduce a new product or service, raise brand awareness, grow channel partners, etc.? Be specific when establishing goals, e.g., what is your goal for the number of and value of orders written at the show for a new product or service line? What is your goal for the number of new channel partners signed, number of meetings held, total sales dollars closed at the show, etc.? At the conclusion of the show, review how you did against your goals. While it’s fresh on your mind note your thoughts about why you did or did not reach each of your goals.


3. Create a buzz.

Begin with a pre-show strategy for your best chance at trade show success. Start three to four weeks ahead of the show using multiple forms of media, e.g., social media, email, direct mail postcards, trade show websites, etc. to create buzz about your company and your plans for the show. Don’t tell them everything, say just enough to create interest and hopefully spark discussion among attendees to the show. Include event-related hashtags in your copy and use the most captivating high-quality photos and videos you have access to. Include opportunities for attendees to schedule their meeting times at your booth ahead of time. Buzz means conversation. You want to provide prospects and clients who walk past your booth with opportunities to engage you. 

Continue with social media posts during the show, highlighting your company with behind-the-scenes photos and updates. Consider live posting from popular sessions. If done correctly, this strategy could even engage your followers who couldn’t make it to the event and contribute to your status as a thought leader in your industry. 


4. Stand out, get noticed.

Use your booth design and marketing collateral to differentiate you from the competition so that you stand out and get noticed. It’s easy to have everything blend together visually at convention halls. Make sure you have a booth design that is high quality, eye-catching and that stands apart from the competition. To accomplish this, use bright colors that draw attention to your booth and make your brand instantly recognizable to visitors. These same colors should be used on all of your messaging and marketing collateral. 

Incorporate technology into your booth design. Video is an easy and effective way to incorporate technology into your booth. You can set up monitors around your booth and play a demo of your products and services or a video about your company and brand. Another simple but effective idea is to include a touchscreen monitor that your prospects can use to browse through your product or services. 

Make sure your booth accurately reflects your company’s brand. Keep your message simple, making sure your mission and value proposition are immediately apparent. Weave this one clear theme throughout all your messaging, making sure all of your most important graphics and visuals communicate this message.


5. Follow up on all of your leads.

You have a short amount of time to convert your trade show leads into clients, it is critical that you have a plan in place to convert these opportunities into future sales. Following are a few suggestions for accomplishing this:

  • Ask to schedule a demo: If you weren’t able to during the show, consider asking to demo your product or service for your prospect. Demos are an effective way to continue your conversation with a prospect after the event is over.
  • Offer a free trial: People love free things. Leverage this by offering your new leads a free trial version of your product or service.
  • Offer a special deal: Create a sense of urgency by giving booth attendees a unique discount code.


Graphics Universal provides trade show displays, signage, and large format graphics and all types of marketing collateral for major corporations, trade associations, businesses, professional sports teams, community and church organizations, and educational institutions. Contact us today to discuss your needs for your next trade show event.