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international trade show

The Logistics of Preparing for International Trade Shows

According to the US Census Bureau, there are 27.9 million registered businesses in the country. That’s a whole lot of local competition if you think about it.

With such a competitive environment in the United States alone, it may be a good idea to consider new ventures.

Perhaps, it’s time you consider expanding your company’s global footprint and think about potentially setting up shop in foreign markets. International trade shows provide the perfect avenue to do that.

When exhibiting internationally, you get broad access to potential customers, partners, and global contacts. You also get the chance to objectively evaluate your product’s export viability based on the feedback (or lack thereof) you get from suppliers and distributors. Doing this is crucial before you make any huge financial commitment.

Taking part in an international trade show isn’t as daunting as you think. With the right amount of planning it’s actually a straightforward and simple process. Read on to learn how to prepare for an international trade show.

1. Research on Exhibiting Opportunities

The importance of this first step cannot be overstated. You need to research and find the right exhibiting opportunities that give your business the highest potential for growth possibilities.

Identifying where your target market is located may be a good place to start. You won’t want to exhibit in a country where there isn’t any opportunity for your business to grow.

Also, if this is your first time exhibiting internationally, and you have a tight budget, you are going to have to be a little picky when choosing which are the best opportunities for you.

Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Identify the international shows to start with that have the highest potential and go from there.

Great sources of information you can use include the Foreign Commercial Service, local and international banks, foreign embassies and consulates. You can also get in touch with trade associations, use the internet to check for upcoming events, or check out our handy trade show calendar.

2. International Trade Shows: Get the Timing Right

Just like any trade show, there is A LOT of planning involved and timing is everything.  One of the most important aspects of trade show planning, both internationally and domestically, is locking down your exhibit space at the event.  Most times, space allocation in trade shows is done on a first-come-first-served basis. Don’t leave it until the last minute to submit your applications to the show organizers.

Especially when it comes to an international show that you’ve never exhibited at before, the more time you allot to planning, the better.   There may be a different process for exhibiting at a show internationally than you are used to, so it’s important that you are prepared for any delays in that crucial first step.

international trade show planning calendar

Ideally, the best time to book space and reserve your spot should be between 12 and 18 months before the scheduled day of the trade show. Use that time to come up with unique trade show booth ideas to make your business stand out from the pack. Our pre-show marketing tips are a good place to start.

Most international trade show management companies have global sales offices. Get in touch with the global representative closest to you to iron out some of the finer details you might be unsure about.

3. Shipping Arrangements

The next step, of course, involves getting your products and equipment to the international show venue. The organizers usually offer trade show services that include incorporating an official freight forwarder to deal with all the shipping nitty-gritty.

The last thing you want to deal with on an individual level is arranging for licenses and declarations, invoicing, insurance, bills and sorting out all the other paperwork required. An international freight company takes this worry off your hands.

It deals with the movement of product samples and equipment between countries. If the equipment is destined to remain in the foreign country once the show ends, then there will be a duty charge assessed on the items in question.

4. Compliance with International Safety Codes

You need to be aware of the laws and safety standards of the country hosting the trade show. Some have very strict regulations regarding product testing and technical specifications that you have to comply with. It helps to engage a local consultant to guide you through the compliance process.

For example, there may be restrictions on what exactly you can bring into the country. Just like when anyone travels internationally, there are certain items that are prohibited to be brought with you.

Again, do your research. You may find that you might not even be able to promote your product in some countries, and that will be essential to know before you decide where you will be exhibiting.

5. Create Some Wiggle Room in Your Budget

If you’re not prepared, you might find that you’ve exhausted the funds you had budgeted to use for the duration of the trade show. Make sure your trade show budget has ample wiggle room to cater for unforeseen expenses.

international trade show budget

Some factors you need to consider include the costs of the venue location, shipping expenses, display banners and all the bells and whistles that bring your tradeshow idea to life. You also need to factor in the cost of graphics printing of promotional materials, prevailing exchange rates, staff costs, import duty… You get the idea. To be on the safe side, add an extra 30% to your budget as a contingency cover.

This is especially important if you are used to exhibiting at domestic trade shows.  Prepare for the additional expenses that are sure to come with exhibiting internationally, and evaluate if the potential benefit is even worth those added costs.

6. Get to Know the Country’s Union Policies

Lots of countries have trade unions with policies and regulations that must be respected and adhered to. Make sure you look them up and familiarize yourself with them before you take on any local contractors to ensure that you aren’t in contravention of any of them.

It helps to have someone close at hand who speaks the local language to be able to give instructions. Arrive well before the trade show commences to ensure you have ample time to sort out any potential issues that may arise.

7. Get the Pricing Right

If this is your first shot at expanding your business internationally, it’s important to understand that you may need to adhere to a different price structure for international clients and customers.

While you’re at the trade show, most customers will want the prices quoted in CIF. This stands for Cost, Insurance, and Freight. It’s a subtle way of letting you know that the buyer expects that you (the seller) will cover all the costs related to the loss or damage of the goods while they’re in transit to the export port.

As soon as the goods are loaded, the responsibility shifts to the buyer. So if your negotiating skills are rusty, now’s a good time to dust them off and give them a spin. You also need to be aware of other price factors like tax, and tariffs when quoting your prices.

8. Pre-Arrange for Payment

The last thing you need while at the trade show is to strike a deal with a potential customer only for you to be unable to receive their down payment. So, before you set off on your journey to the great unknown make sure you have your payment affairs in order.

The starting point is to find a bank that has international affiliations and discuss your expectations with them as pertains to transfer of funds, bills of exchange or any letters of credit you might require. Most customers you’ll deal with at the trade shows will expect to see your credit report before they can proceed to do business with you. So, ensure you have it handy with you.

9. Get Local Currency

At the risk of stating the obvious, when in Rome… get local currency! On a serious note though, it’s a rookie mistake to transact in dollar currency in a foreign land. That’s the number one way to get ripped off.

local currency for international trade shows

Use Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) to get local currency. You may not be aware of this little tidbit, but using an ATM to withdraw currency gives you a much better rate that if you were to use hotels, or, foreign currency exchange bureaus.

Before you leave home, ensure you get enough local currency. You’ll need it to pay for your transportation from the airport to your hotel and a little extra to tip the driver along the way.

10. Use a Native Born Translator

Always insist on using a native-born translator to translate all your business communications and copy for international trade shows. It helps to have someone with some technical background of your industry to accurately convey the message.

Relying on someone who isn’t a native speaker of a language, to translate might result in them using slang, double-entendres and other colloquialisms that could leave you red in the face. Prepare translated catalogs, data sheets with metric measurements and product literature in the languages of most of the countries that will be represented at the show.

11. Don’t Compromise on Quality

Attending an international trade show is an opportunity to put your best foot forward. This isn’t the time to skimp on quality.

Customers expect high-quality products and exhibits that stand out in style, design, and innovation. Remember, there’s nothing new under the sun.

So if you want your products to compete with the locally produced merchandise, you need to be able to prove why your product is unique. It’s the only way you’ll gain acceptance.

12. Train Your Staff

This step of the preparation process is often overlooked. Your products could be amazing, and you could have ironed out every kink in the logistics of preparing for the trade show. But, if the individuals you’ve entrusted to represent your company at these events aren’t competent then it all amounts to a zero-sum game.

Train them on the different negotiating styles. They should exhibit cultural and conversation sensitivities. They need to know how to properly address visitors, maintain eye contact and give firm handshakes.

They should be aware of their body language. The whole point is for them to exude trust and sincerity.

After all, it is the key to creating and developing lasting business relationships. The success of your business hinges on the soft skills your business’ representatives possess.

The Final Word

Taking part in international trade shows is the first step to expanding your global presence. The opportunities available to you on the world stage are infinite. You only need to reach out and grab them.

Use the tips you’ve learned in this article to make that first step. Remember, a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. What are you waiting for?

When you’re ready to take that first step and leap into international exhibiting, our team at Metro Exhibits has the capabilities and expertise to help you each step of the way.

Let us know how we can help you today!

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trade show follow-up emails (1)

How to Convert Leads with Trade Show Follow-up Emails (and Other Best Practices)

Whether you’re a trade show veteran or you’re new to it, there are always ways to improve your trade show tactics.

After all, there are tons of opportunities that are present at trade shows:

49% of trade show attendees intend to buy one or more of the products/services exhibited.

82% of these attendees have the authority to buy on behalf of their organization or business. 

A trade show gives you direct access to these key decision makers. But it’s not just about making contact or showcasing your product, it’s about how you follow up with your leads post-show. That’s how you close the sale.

Here’s how to close deals and convert leads with trade show follow-up emails and other best practices.

Trade Show Pre-planning

There’s much to be said about post-show actions and trade show follow-ups. But before you can think about post-event emails and lead follow-ups, you need to make sure that you’re on track months before your trade show arrives.

There are definitive marketing techniques for trade shows that one should follow leading up to the event. We also suggest creating a timeline for yourself so that you can stay on schedule and don’t miss any important details of the planning process.

Make sure you start planning months ahead, don’t leave yourself with little to no time to plan what your on-site call to action will be, or how you plan to steal the show with an amazingly designed exhibit.

Ensure that you have clear goals and understand why you’re participating in that particular trade show. Plan what it is that you’d like to tell potential customers when they stop at your booth. Simple informative brochures and catalogs in this day and age won’t work.

Get the word out. Make sure you start telling people way ahead of time that you’ll be exhibiting. Harness the power of your social media audience and do a build-up campaign to the trade show. Perhaps even run a special offer for those who follow your social media and visit your booth, not only will this encourage them to visit your display, but you could use it was a way to measure the impact of your social media campaign.

Capture Your Leads

You can’t launch a follow-up campaign without any leads.

Before you can action a post-show strategy and follow up, you’ll need to gather some information from your booth visitors.

Design Your Exhibit Strategically

There’s no point in placing a brochure rack right at the entrance to your exhibition stand. Hordes of people will simply walk past, grab a brochure and keep walking.

You don’t want to give show attendees the opportunity to pass you up. When designing your booth, think about doing it in such a way that people are invited to come inside, to interact with you and your brand.  This way they’re more likely to interact, ask questions and leave their details for follow up communication.

Perform a Game or Do a Giveaway

prize wheel trade show booth

Ever seen a prize wheel ready to spin? Human nature has you wanting to walk over and spin it. Entertain your booth visitors by ‘gamifying’ your exhibit and making it more interactive for people who choose to stop in.

Another great idea is to advertise a simple giveaway that entices trade show visitors to walk in, grab a little treat and perhaps leave their business card in the box.

Your End Goal

If your end goal is an email follow-up campaign, then obviously your goal during the trade show is to collect email addresses and other contact information. Make this a main priority and figure out the best way for you to collect those email addresses.

Trade Show Follow-up Emails

“A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble at his door.” ― Confucius, Chinese philosopher

You’re probably thinking, “Ok I’ve collected tons of email addresses…what next?”

Here’s a tip: immediate action is key.

Don’t wait until after the trade show to decide what your follow-up email message is going to be. You’ll want to plan this strategy well ahead of time.  You should have the email template designed and ready to launch just a few days after the show. Even a day or two after the show will set you miles ahead of your competition who may take weeks to send out their first line of post-show communication.

Your plan should be to make the first contact.  Odds are that there were a few businesses at the trade show that do exactly what you do, or sell exactly what you sell. Being the first to make contact already puts you a step ahead of your competitors.

Post-event email is a great way to make that first contact and potentially turn your lead into a customer. But make sure that you don’t use the same email for different trade shows. Consider putting the name of the show in the subject line, and even personalize your email campaign.

“Hi Daniel, it was great to meet you at XYZ trade show yesterday.”

But that’s not all. Offer a download along with your first email contact.

“Here’s a free e-book for you that might be helpful.”

Giving your visitors something useful, free of charge not only gets their attention but it also gives you a measurable way to determine which leads are genuine and give solid information to your sales team to act on.

Consider putting an image of your display in your follow-up email so that your recipient remembers who you are straight away. Keep in mind that they visited many exhibits during the trade-show, and this is a sure-fire way to help them sift through the chaos.

Thank You Goes a Long Way

thank you follow up

You heard it. A simple thank you goes a long way with the visitors at your booth. Bombarding them with a post-event email crammed to the max with information won’t get you very far.

But, a simple, “Thank you for visiting our booth,” will leave a lasting impression.

Few people remember to remember people.

Confusing, right?

Not really.

Thousands of people visit trade shows every year. How many businesses really place importance on thanking people for their time, at all?

A “thank you” to your visitors is a genuine and heartfelt message that can definitely set you apart from your competitors.

Record Everything

return on investment

In order to measure your success, you need to document everything.

Make sure you have a record of marketing collateral used, pre-event and post-event correspondence and the results it gained.

Report on your goals and how close you came to achieving them, or how far you overshot them.

Keep your budget clear. Make sure you know how much you spent on pre-event, during event and post-event marketing and branding. This way, you’ll be able to see how well you’ve done, and if your exhibiting experience was worth it.

You’ll be able to quantify whether the leads you gathered gave you a good return of investment. Also, you’ll be able to decide which trade shows have worked for you and your brand, and which you should maybe skip the next time around.

There’s no point in returning year after year to a trade show that hasn’t given you the results that you’d hoped for. Having documentation of everything to do with your trade show will allow you to make tweaks to disappointing campaigns, or overhaul your whole strategy if the results were extremely poor.

Tricks of the Trade Show

The trade show you decide to participate in is bound to have a few companies who do exactly what you do. But, there are other exhibitors who have the exact same audience you do but for a different reason.

For example; if your company installs fireplaces and there’s another exhibitor who installs fire alarms; you’ll have the same target audience, but you’re selling something different.

In this case trading leads and contact information is a win-win situation.

This is a great trade show tip in terms of return on investment.

Most trade shows have exhibitors with the same target audience as you. Why not trade leads and contact information?

Or go one step further, consider coordinating your post-trade show email campaign. Or even, offer a giveaway together if you can make contact with this other business before the event day.

Follow Up Often

One email is definitely not enough.

Many companies make the mistake of doing one simple follow up email. This is wrong. Most sales are made on the third or fourth attempt.

Your follow-up email campaign should be in stages.

Don’t give up on your first email sent.  Plan for a slow roll-out of various different follow-up messages, enough to keep your leads interested without overwhelming them.

Having said this, there is a fine line between smart marketing and irritating marketing. Make sure the messages in your email campaign aren’t overbearing, ensure that they don’t just say sell, sell, sell.

Your People are Important

Don’t forget that staffing at your trade show booth is also important. Having your best salespeople engaging with the show attendees is a guaranteed way to keep the conversation going. It can be one of the deciding factors whether or not an attendee will leave their information with you or not.

If you have to hire promotional staff to man the booth, make sure they’ve attended a pre-show briefing and that they understand your service or product.

There’s nothing worse than visiting an exhibit where a young person sits on their phone and isn’t interested in engaging with your visitor. There’s no better way to see your leads walk away than this.

Your exhibit staff should be able to speak in depth about the product or services you are offering.  They need to be able to treat people with utmost respect and attention, whether they are an employee of your company or not.

On Your Way to Trade Show Success

You’ve got your pre-planning on par, you’ve had a trade show experience that feels successful, now you’ve got to perform on your trade show follow-up email.

Remember, don’t give up. Plan your communication. Make sure your message is clear and relevant.

Don’t spam your email list. Give them something meaningful and your trade show follow-up campaign will be successful. Check out our blog for more great trade show tips if you find yourself overwhelmed with trade-show planning.

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8 Trade Show Marketing Techniques — Your Guide To Pre-Show Planning

Trade Show Marketing

Trade shows can bring your business a lot of benefits, including lead generation, brand recognition, and cost-effective advertising.

But only if you do it right.

Without trade show marketing leading up to the event, you won’t walk away with the results you wanted. And you need to get started long before the trade show date gets close.

Not sure where to begin?

Take a look at these pre-show marketing tips to help make your event successful.

Find Your “Why” and Set Goals

If you don’t set clear, attainable goals for your trade show, your marketing attempts—and the entire event—might not go as well as you’d hoped. How can you get the results you want if you don’t know what those are?

So the first step of trade show marketing is finding your “why” and setting goals.

Figure out exactly why you are exhibiting at this trade show.  Exhibiting at a trade show is no small expense, especially at larger events.  Think of the long term planning as well as the costs of the booth and space itself.  Will it be worth the investment in the long run?  Once you discover the reason for having your company represented at a trade show or convention, it’s time to set clear goals.

Make these goals specific.

For example, instead of saying you want to generate new leads, write down exactly how many you want, how you plan to get them, and how to follow up with them after the trade show.

This will direct your marketing efforts and set you up for success.

Design Your Message

You need to create a compelling and clear CTA before you set up your booth day-of. Otherwise, your potential leads might fall through the cracks. Even if they like your product, they won’t know how to contact you, how to buy it, or what else they should do.

Before you start marketing, design your trade show booth and message.

How will the attendees remember you? How will you stand out from the crowd? How will you represent your brand?

Answer these questions first. They might help narrow down your marketing strategy.

Start Planning Several Months in Advance

Give yourself plenty of time to plan and run marketing strategies before the trade show.

It’s a good idea to start planning 12 months in advance. But if you can’t make this timeline work for your business, give yourself at least six months to get ready before the trade show.

Don’t wait any longer than this. If you do, you’ll end up rushing through marketing techniques, run out of time to use them effectively, and not get the results you want.

Also, it is good to build in extra time in your planning timeline to account for any setbacks you may have.  There are many things that may go wrong along the way.  Being prepared for worst-case scenarios will cause less stress and less last minute decisions in the event something does happen.

Pick Your Marketing Methods

One marketing campaign isn’t enough to gain attention for your trade show. Instead, you should choose multiple different methods and use them all.


Different marketing strategies will allow you to reach different audiences on different platforms. Multiple marketing campaigns are always better than one, even if that one is seemingly perfect.  Having multiple marketing strategies also allows you to hit your target audience multiple times, perhaps making you stand out and be more memorable.

Here are eight types of pre-trade show marketing techniques you should consider.

1. Build a List of Outreach Contacts

Start your marketing by creating a list of contacts for outreach. These contacts can consist of your current customers, known prospects, and other contacts.

Let these people know you’re going to be at the event. But don’t stop there. You should also build up the trade show itself. This can encourage people to go if they weren’t planning on it originally.

This will also ensure you have as many potential clients and customers there as possible.

You can also build a list of registered attendees. Since they’re already going to the trade show, let them know you’ll be there and where they can find you.

2. Promote on Social Media

Social Media Marketing

Nearly 80% of people in the United States have at least one social media profile. Many of them have several. Odds are that’s also where most of your audience is, so it’s the perfect place to promote the event.

There are a few different ways you can do this.

You can post about the trade show on your social media accounts. Let your audience know what it’s all about and that you’ll be going. Inform them where exactly they can find you on the trade show floor.

Also, if you have any incentives, giveaways, or games planned, be sure to note this in your posts as well.  It can build up excitement and give attendees more of a reason to stop by and visit your booth.

You can also make short videos to catch their interest.

Videos are a more exciting and interactive way to deliver your message and will also be more memorable for your audience.

But don’t rely on your posts alone.

Create some targeted social media ads as well. These ads can get clicks from a much larger audience.  With targeted social media ads, such as on Facebook, you can choose the demographics, age, gender, work, education, etc. of who you want to reach with your posts.

This ensures that you are reaching exactly who you need to with your messaging.

3. Launch an Email Campaign

Launching an email campaign is a quick, cheap, and effective way to market for an upcoming trade show.

It also gives you a way to track how much engagement your emails are getting. By looking at click-through rates and open rates, you can get a good idea of how many people are interested in the event.

Your email campaign should consist of several different emails. To begin with, you should send an introductory email about the trade show to let people know that you’ll be attending.

Depending on who you are targeting with these emails, there is a chance they may not be knowledgeable about the event.  Provide them with a brief summary and information about what they can expect from your company if they attend.

After that, you’ll have to send follow up emails to remind them (we’ll touch more on that below).

4. Harness the Power of SEO

seo optimization

Don’t forget to use the power of SEO in whichever marketing strategy you choose.

For example, create a sharable blog post on your website announcing that you will be exhibiting at the trade show.  Be sure to find the right keyword density, write attention-grabbing headers, and use appropriate images.  Also, make sure the page is SEO optimized in terms of titles, length, linking, etc.

When using Google Ads, they won’t be very effective if you don’t know what type of trade show keywords people are searching for.

Do your research.

Find out what it is people are searching for, and make sure your ads and campaigns are all SEO optimized to meet the needs of what your audience is searching for.

5. Send Direct Mail

While direct mail marketing may not be as common as email marketing, it’s far from dead. In fact, sending direct mail to your contacts can be an effective way to make them aware of your event.

Here’s how.

By sending something like a postcard—especially one in an interesting shape, you put the trade show on people’s minds long before it happens. But not only that, the postcard stays in their house. That means, depending on where they keep it, they’ll see it every day.

This not only reminds them of the event, but it can also build excitement.

While this is a good strategy for anyone, it works best for people you already know will be attending the event. So find that list you made of the trade show register attendees and send them some direct mail.

6. Use Targeted Marketing Methods

There are a few, more targeted marketing methods you can also use when it comes to trade shows.

For example, you can work with the trade show managers to get discounted registration fees or free passes. You can then offer these to your customers to help encourage them to show up.

Save these for people you know will be high-potential visitors. Then, if you can, set up appointments for these people during the trade show. You can even set up a smaller event for your customers during the trade show itself.

Let yourself get creative with targeted marketing approaches.

7. Build a Landing Page

You may want to consider building a trade show landing page. Make sure this page includes your CTA and more information about the event. You may also want to include extra resources your customers might find helpful.

Most importantly, like in any email marketing you may do, state where your booth or display will be located at the event.  This makes it easy for those who are interested to find you during the show.  You want to make it easy as possible for potential clients to find you, or they won’t bother to go out of their way at all.

If you do choose to create a landing page, don’t forget to make the landing page mobile-friendly.

After all, almost 60% of all internet searches come from mobile phones. If your content isn’t responsive, you might lose a potential client.

8. Follow up with People

Remember when we said you would have to follow up with people as part of your marketing campaign? Don’t forget this step! Otherwise, people who were planning to go might forget and not make it.

So here’s what you need to do.

  • Three Months Before the Trade Show

Email your contacts a “save the date” notice. Make sure you include your booth number and any incentives in this email.

  • One Month Before the Trade Show

Create some social media posts that have the date and your booth number. If you’ll be using any hashtags during the event, include these in the posts as well.

  • Three Weeks Before the Trade Show

Send out another email with all the information your guests will need to know. This includes things like your booth number, promotional giveaways, CTAs, and more.

  • One Week Before the Trade Show

Make several social media posts about the trade show to keep people updated. You can post about your booth number, other highlights about the show, information about the surrounding area, trade show tips, and giveaways.

  • The Last Days Before the Trade Show

Use your social media to post pictures of you traveling to the event. Take pictures of you setting up your booth, and create “almost time” pictures to share.

Set a Marketing Budget

trade show marketing budget

Before you get carried away with these pre-trade show marketing strategies, make sure you set a marketing budget. If you don’t, the costs can add up fast.

Picking the Best Trade Show Marketing Tips

If you don’t take the time to do some pre-show marketing before your event, you won’t get the results you want. Trade show marketing is one of the most important parts of your event, so don’t forget to start early!

Need some help getting ready for your trade show?

We can help! Click here to take a look at some of our trade show services.

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10 Trade Show Booth Design Tips To Make The Most Of Your Exhibition

Exhibit Design

Picture the scene: You set up your little trade show booth table, add a plate full of cookies and feel ready for the day. But right next to you, a huge company giant sets up a glorious display that puts your humble booth to shame.

Why do these business giants put in so much effort? According to stats, 80% of visitors said they would buy a product or service that they interacted with at a trade show.

Yes, making your trade show booth a success can get you a lot of new customers. And that’s what makes them worth the investment.

But you don’t have to feel intimated by those huge company giants. The key is to create an awesome trade show booth design that will make YOUR brand stand out in the crowd.

How can you make it a success? Read on for the best trade show booth design tips that will give those company giants a run for their money.

1. Stay On-Brand

Of all the trade show booth design best practices, this is something you should never forget. Stay on-brand!

Forbes said this about branding, “Brands are psychology and science brought together as a promise mark. Products have life cycles. Brands outlive products.”

Your branding defines your company and should run throughout every aspect of it. From your business card to your website, your branding should be visible. It’s the key to successful marketing.

You could incorporate all the best booth ideas on this planet. But there is nothing worse than a trade show booth design that is irrelevant. It may even cause confusion among visitors.

Keep your branding clear and consistent throughout the entire booth area. From banners and freebies to interactive experiences and leaflets, make sure you stick to your theme.

2. Master Your First Impression

trade show first impression

According to research, you only have 30 seconds to make a good first impression. But with so much competition at trade shows, you’ve probably got a shorter window. If you want your brand to stand out from the rest, you need to create a visually engaging booth.

Bright colors can help you to stand out, but only if they are matching your brand. Bold designs with huge banners and interactive displays can catch the eyes of the crowds.

Huge props can also draw attention. For example, if your company has a connection to vehicles, bring in a car to display. Make it part of the booth design, or use it as part of an experience.

A really cool way to create a visually engaging booth is to set a scene.

3. Set the Scene

Create an entire scene that has its own vibe. Think about it for a second. If your trade show booth was a place, where would it be?

For example, if you’re in the tourism field you could create a vacation destination scene. Start off with a tropical looking backdrop and include deck chairs, inflatable pool toys and more. Complete it with a vacation themed photo booth with props and you’ll have customers lining up to join in the fun.

Even if your company doesn’t have as much scope, you can still create a fun experience. For example, a tech-based company could create a coffee shop scene where they can try out products while they sip on a free brew.

If the visual effects don’t attract customers, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee will!

4. Professional Presentation

professional trade show booth

But while you’re creating your trade show booth design, don’t forget the basics. You may get carried away with all the bells and whistles, but a trade show booth is nothing without a grand presentation area.

This is especially important if you are giving a speech, showing a presentation or demonstrating a product. To make your presentation area stand out, you will need:

  • A small stage with a spotlight
  • A podium (for your notes)
  • A large screen to show a digital presentation
  • High-quality mic and speakers
  • A good internet connection (for online streaming and Q&A sessions)

Once you’ve got the right set-up, you’ll be ready for a grand presentation. But without this, you may find yourself lost in the crowd.

5. Game Time

Many trade show booths follow the same pattern and can cause attendees eyes to glaze right over your booth. Give visitors something they can play with and enjoy.

Some products are easier to turn into games than others. For instance, anyone selling video games or consoles can set up a gaming area. If it’s not so clear how to turn your product into a game, you may need to get creative.

If you’re selling beauty products, have a guessing game where the winner wins a free makeover. Try a prize golfing putt experience to win a prize. Or simply roll a huge dice to win a competition.

If games aren’t appropriate to your brand, try a unique experience instead.

For example, Charity Water created an experience their visitors will never forget. They invited attendees to walk with two large jugs of water to give them the same experience as villagers in developing nations. This experience, no doubt, touched the heart of many booth visitors and encouraged them to donate.

Of course, whatever experience you come up with, it must match with your brand. Relevance is key!

6. Go Digital

Creating a digital experience can attract people to your booth. If it’s exciting enough it may draw in crowds.

But, not all brands are as simple to display as others. You’ll have to think outside the box to make your brand interactive.

Touch screens are one of the best pieces of tech to incorporate into your trade show booth design. They can display almost any kind of business.

Another great idea is to create a virtual reality experience. Online live streamings, video walls, and live presentations are also great techniques. They can create an interactive experience that will draw in the crowds.

7. Create Walking Ads

You and your team should wear promotional merchandise as you walk around the event. But it’s not only your team that can do advertising for you. Handing out free swag to trade show visitors will turn each wearer into a walking advertisement.

It’s always beneficial to give out swag that actually serves a purpose. Some great merchandise ideas include:

  • USB flash drives
  • Powerbanks
  • Big stickers
  • Balloons
  • Wearables (t-shirts, rubber bracelets, hats)
  • Bags

Make sure your trade show booth displays your swag so that it’s visible to the crowd. The aim should be to draw them in, not to pick up freebies and walk on by.

8. Be Generous

As well as swag and branded merchandise, another trade show booth design trick is to be hospitable. Entice potential clients into your booth by giving a warm welcome with your generosity.

For example, have a relaxing area with bean bags or comfy chairs. Give out free beverages, such as tea, coffee or even bottles of water. When the customer feels “at home” and relaxed, they may be more inclined to chat about your products.

If you’re in the food industry, giving out free samples should be a major part of your trade show strategy. You could even combine this with a demonstration of how to make one of your delights, or how to use it in a recipe.

The plate of cookies mentioned at the offset wasn’t a bad idea after all!

9. Take Advantage of the Area

exhibit design

Whether your booth is small or large, make the most of the space you have. Some trade show locations are tight for space, but the ceilings are high. Why not build up to use every square foot to your advantage.

You could use huge vertical banners or tie huge floating balloons. Or you could even build an upstairs section to your booth.

You could use this as a hangout spot, or an area for some kind of interactive experience.

If you have more floor space, use it wisely. Have an area for chilling, an area for discussing the product or service, and somewhere they can enjoy an experience.

Don’t over clutter the area. If you’re short for space, you may need to cut a few features out. Less is more when it comes to trade show booth designs.

These ideas will make, even a small space, look grand.

10. What’s in a Name?

As mentioned, your branding is vitally important when creating your trade show booth design. But if your branding isn’t well known, some customers may not know who you represent. It’s important to display your name EVERYWHERE you possibly can.

Even globally famous brands, like Samsung, don’t take their recognizable brands for granted. They always feature their name somewhere.

Make sure your name is on your:

  • Products
  • Booth
  • Banners and signs
  • Freebies
  • Team Uniform

Having your name plastered everywhere will help potential customers to know exactly who you are and what you represent.

Steal the Show with Your Booth Design

It’s clear to see that when planning your booth design, you need to think outside the box. Unique experiences, stunning displays, and a welcoming environment can make your booth steal the show.

Now you’ve filled your head with grand ideas, what’s next? You surely can’t create an awesome booth yourself. Contact us today for the best trade show booth designs.

Are you ready? Let’s bring your idea to life!

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The Best Trade Show Giveaway Ideas of 2019

What may seem to be one of the easiest decisions associated with exhibiting at an event always tends to be more complicated than one originally anticipates. This decision is the Trade Show Giveaway. The purpose of this article is to provide a variety of trade show giveaway ideas that will not only be hot in 2019, but effective as well. There is a significant difference when it comes to giveaways being interesting and being effective.

There are many unique giveaway ideas that the consumer will find compelling at first but ultimately end up trash on the way out of the exhibit hall. The goal is to find a trade show giveaway that is cost-effective, branded, and useful for the intended audience.

As a study done by PPAI Research called The Effectiveness of Promotional Products as an Advertising Medium proves, “69% of people would pick up a promotional product if they found it to be useful.” Accordingly, the list below contains Trade Show Giveaway Ideas that have been proven to be useful beyond the exhibition floor.

First, I’m going to talk to you about the biggest issue Exhibitors have when trying to create a strategic lead generating tactic such as giveaways.

Here’s a hint: It’s actually turning those trade show giveaways into actionable leads.

Trade show giveaways attract visitors much like the overall quality of your exhibit design, but after that, it’s up to the exhibitor to make those visitors count.


Don’t leave it up to giveaways. Make sure your exhibit design catches the attention of everyone at the trade show. Using trade show booth rentals is a great way to keep your design fresh. If you purchase your booth, it will cost you a lot to get it updated- so renting is a great option.

Giveaways, on the other hand, are a great way to get someone’s information so that your sales team can follow up with them after the show.

Ask your visitors questions and hand them their giveaway for a small piece of information, such as email addresses. Get to know their company name and create an experience that helps them associate their brand with yours. Now, what should you actually give them?

Best Trade Show Giveaway Ideas:

  • Key Chain Light – The key light is a concept so simple and yet so useful. The LED promo key light can attach directly to your car keys. Being one of the most cost-effective promo items to date, this giveaway is a great idea. Imagine having your product name on someone’s keys, in front of their eyes almost every day. You cannot go wrong there. Here are some trade show key chain lights

  • Power BanksPower banks are great at events because your prospects can now recharge their essential electronics while on the move. This makes it extremely useful. The major concern with technology innovation is convenience and providing your target audience with the ability to prevent themselves from being “device-less” while simultaneously having your brand name involved in their daily lives is like hitting the giveaway jackpot. Here are some promo power banks

  • USB Flash Drive – With so much technology in today’s world there is a need for the need for USB flash drives. It’s a huge convenience to have multiple USB because there always presents a time to use one. What better time for a brand to be visible than when you really need a USB and fast. Sitting at my computer now, I have two different Thumb Drives from giveaways that I received at the International Franchise Expo. Every business is guaranteed to have a moment like this which is why this trade show giveaway’s a hit wherever you take it. Here are some promo flash drives

Time-Tested Trade Show Giveaway Ideas:

  • Pens – Pens are a time-tested, giveaway classic that despite not being very showy, pack a big promotional punch. According to a study done by ASI (Advertising Specialty Institute), Most Popular Promo Products by Category, Writing Instruments were the most commonly received promotional product by far. This is because they follow the three rules of an effective giveaway item as depicted in this article’s intro. They are most certainly cost-effective, easy to brand, and useful to the majority of trade show attendees. Here are some custom pens for trade shows

  • Stainless Steel Sports BottlesAlthough slightly more expensive than branded water bottles, Stainless Steel Sports Bottles have a much longer life-cycle. These are great because they not only provide a large print area, but they also come in a multitude of colors so it is easy to match your brand’s colors to those of your giveaway. Additionally, these items serve as an eco-friendly item and help reduce plastic waste. Finally, they are available with a custom print logo for easy brand recognition. Here are some custom steel sport bottles

  • Drawstring Bag– This cost-efficient trade show item is another perfectly useful and significant event giveaway that can be used right away. These bags will be continually used for everyday things, keeping your company’s identity front and center. Let the traffic to your exhibit walk away with an item that reflects the utility your company truly reflects. Drawstrings bags are perfect for this reason. Here are some trade show drawstring bags

  • Reusable Bag or Tote With reusable bags/totes being as popular a giveaway item as they are, you would be surprised as to how few exhibitors receive these at any given trade show. Not only will your attendees and prospective clients use them at the trade show for toting around their other materials, but they will almost always make it home. Beyond the trade show floor, clients will use these for bagging groceries, shopping, and much more. In addition to these substantial benefits, they provide the largest print area of any trade show giveaway item on our list. (Hint: You can also get Eco-Friendly bags if “going green” is part of your image)Here are some trade show tote bags

Bonus Trade Show Giveaway Ideas:

  • Padfolios and Notebooks What’s more relevant at a trade show than a padfolio and notebook? It’s a perfect giveaway for an event or conference where you have to take notes. This gift will be used often, especially in industries that require a lot of travel. Additionally, these items tend to have a high use rate than most other giveaways. Overall, this is another useful, and one of the best promo ideas. Here are some trade show padfolios

  • Stainless Steel TumblersMuch like the water bottles, coffee is something a lot of people drink daily. This means more opportunities for your brand to be top-of-mind with a stainless steel coffee tumbler. In the book, “Contagious” by Jonah Berger, Kit Kat used coffee as a way to keep their brand top of mind with consumers. “Have a Kit Kat with your coffee break” was a slogan that increased sales tremendously, by simply increasing top of mind awareness. Associating yourselves with something done more often increases top-of-mind awareness. Here are some trade show tumblers


When it all comes down to it, the absolute best giveaway at a conference, expo, trade show, or other event is one that is relevant and useful. Mix your brand in the scenario and you can’t go wrong. Take your time choosing a promotional item that is either relevant to your business or to an event scenario and you can create a branding experience that will last. Trying to be unique when offering an item is a slippery slope. When handing over something that is free, make sure it happens to be useful to whomever you are giving it to. Otherwise, the trash bin that’s closest to your exhibition space will most likely be full of your giveaways. Keep this in mind and you will do fine. Happy shopping!

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