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Best Practices: How to Convert Leads with Trade Show Follow-up

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 will want to make sure that you spend enough time thinking about the exhibition stand design and build before you set anything up first. You will want to make sure that you interest people enough so that they come to your stand.

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. Your next step will be to then add them to your mailing list as soon as possible, so you can keep them up to date with your business news. Although, before you get too enthusiastic about this step, you may want to learn how email verification works so you can make sure that your emails are actually reaching “real” people and not invalid addresses. This could help you in the long run.

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. Once you have their attention, you can pass your server onto a web host, just like Hostiserver, they can do the hard work and you can return to sales.

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 Tradeshow Pre-Show Planning Tips

Trade Show Marketing

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

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.

This, in turn, ensures your products are both valuable and different.

Start Planning Several Months in Advance

Give yourself plenty of time to plan and run marketing strategies before the trade show, especially given current supply chain and labor issues related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Perhaps you’re part of a law firm planning to attend a legal exhibition or law conference in your area and are looking to impress potential clients. If so, there are plenty of awesome ideas for attorney business cards that you could utilize, and getting it all sorted with plenty of time to spare is a good idea for ensuring you’re as prepared as can be.

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. 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. Saying this though, if you have a number of contacts across various platforms and you know it will take a long time to send an email to each person, using programs that provide a contact syncing feature can make this a whole lot easier.

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 trade show booth 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 55% 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

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


Picture the scene: You set up your little trade show booth counter, add a plate of (wrapped) cookies and feel ready for the show. But right next to you, a huge corporation 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 exhibitors (in fact, they are likely to increase passerby traffic to your site). The key is to create an awesome trade show booth design that will make YOUR brand stand out in the crowd and invite engagement.

How can you make it a success? Read on for some of the the best trade show booth tips we’ve seen–and give those company giants a run for their money.

1. Stay On-Brand

Trade show booth


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 trade show booth backwall to your website, your branding should be visible. It’s the key to successful marketing.

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

Keep your branding clear and consistent throughout the entire booth area. From your banners to the promotional items you’re giving out to interactive experiences and “Slim Jims,” make sure you stick to your theme.

2. Master Your 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. Having bold designs, large signage with simple messaging (sometimes just your logo is enough), as well as interactive displays that are drawing a crowd can catch the eyes of your most desirable passersby.

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 attendees try out products while they sip on a free brew (and don’t forget to brand the take-away cups–they’ll be your mini-billboards throughout the show).

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

4. Professional Presentation

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 (best practice: have an offline digital copy to present in case the wi-fi isn’t what you hoped for; at large shows, it can sometimes be a challenge).

Once you’ve got the right set-up, you’ll be ready for a grand presentation.

5. On-Booth Activities

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 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 anywhere, in even the smallest booth.

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

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 wearable, unique swag to trade show visitors will turn each wearer into a walking advertisement.  We all know the benefit of providing totebags, but how about those nylon backpacks that visitors can use to store the swag they’ve collected from other booths? Those attendees really become your mobile billboards.

It’s always beneficial to give out swag that actually serves a purpose and is very high quality. Be someone’s favorite t-shirt, pen or cellphone holder and your name will be in front of them constantly. And remember that with airline luggage weight restrictions, “junky” giveaways are likely to end up in the hotel room trash.

Some great merchandise ideas include:

  • Powerbanks
  • Children’s items (one less stop at the airport on the way home)
  • Desk items
  • Wearables (t-shirts, rubber bracelets, hats)
  • Water bottles

Make sure your trade show booth displays your swag so that it’s visible to the crowd but draws them into the booth.  The aim should be to have a chance to at least greet them, not to have them pick up freebies and walk on by.

8. Be an Oasis

Along with swag and branded merchandise, another trade show booth design trick is to offer a place to take a brief rest and recharge.

For example, have a relaxing area with comfortable chairs with a back. 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.  Note that with COVID restrictions, open samples may be prohibited from the trade show floor, so food will need to be individually wrapped.

9. Take Advantage of the Vertical Space


Double decker trade show booth from Beacon Building Products at International Roofing Expo IRE 2021 in Las Vegas Nevada

Beacon Building Products at IRE 2021 Las Vegas NE


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. Every exhibit hall has regulations that must be part of the initial booth plan, but if you can, why not build up to use every square foot to your advantage.

You could use very tall vertical banners or tie huge floating balloons. Or you could even build an upstairs section to your booth (a “double-decker”). Smart exhibitors use a small part of that space as a staffroom, and the rest for client meetings.

10. What’s in a Name?

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, consistently.

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 and well-designed logo plastered everywhere will help potential customers 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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14 Trade Show Marketing Ideas & Strategies

Trade Show Marketing

1. Make Your Trade Show Booth Inviting

Think of the places in your life that catch your attention and make you feel that you just can’t pass them by. Now imagine hundreds of places close to each other all vying for your attention. Reduced to its basics, that’s what a trade show is all about. That’s why the most important thing you can do is get a custom booth artfully designed by experts in attracting attention in meaningful ways. The experts at Metro Exhibits design and build custom booths to your specifications. They’re experts in what works. Remember, you’re at the show to generate leads. If you don’t capture attention, you won’t capture leads.

2. Make Your Trade Show Booth Informative

Exhibiting at a trade show is a marketing activity. Every company that exhibits has an event marketing strategy. That marketing strategy includes a position statement and product or services descriptions. Display your messages with clarity and prominence. Reinforce who you are. Make clear what new, enticing offering you’ve come to the trade show to announce. Make them feel they just can’t pass by your booth without finding out more. Font size, color, signage dimensions, placement all come into play.

3. Calculate Trade Show ROI

Watch your expenses. Is it better to purchase or rent a booth? Is it sometimes better to do one or the other, depending on the distance of the trade show from your nearest office? What about storage options for your booth that can eliminate shipping costs? International exhibitors in trade shows in the U.S. can avoid customs and other costs by storing their booths inside the country. Be smart about travel expenses for your show staff. Keep the staff as lean as you can. Be sure to take advantage of room blocks set aside by the exhibit in a timely fashion. It’s always best to book rooms early since they can always be canceled, and to book flights as early as it’s known who will attend as flight costs can go up dramatically over time.

4. Location, Location, Location

Learn how the organization holding the trade show allots floor space to exhibitors. If you have exhibited before, lobby for a better position than the one you had last year. Make it part of your negotiation. Study the show agenda. If there are breakout sessions, find out when and where they will be on the show floor. Try to position your booth where attendees will congregate for refreshments or lunch. If you do not know the venue, ask to see the layout. Find out where the educational sessions will be held and try your best to position your booth in a location that attendees will need to pass repeatedly. Ask Metro Exhibits for help. There isn’t a venue or a show where we have not done work, or do not know intimately. Every trade show has a landscape and you want to find yourself in the optimum location in that landscape.

5. Size Matters

It’s important that your booth not be much smaller than those of your competitors. But size is certainly not the only thing that matters. In fact, a large vacuous booth that is not interesting or does not make the kind of statement you are trying to use to attract and retain customers will backfire. Evaluate your options and costs. Learn as much as you can about your competitors. Study the developing Exhibitor List. Ask for it if it isn’t posted on the website. Decide what size you can afford and then consult experts in designing and building booths that make an interesting, meaningful statement.

6. Be Timely with All Your Materials

Don’t miss deadlines. Nothing looks as bad as your company or product description on a loose sheet of paper slipped into the Exhibit Guide. It makes it seem as if your attendance at the show is an afterthought, or worse, that meeting deadlines is an issue at your company which may very likely surface when you deliver the product or service you are offering to customers. You will want to be stocked up on materials to ensure that every last detail of information regarding your exhibit is displayed in a professional and attractive manor. You might also be interested in merchandising and other promotional materials to help sell your business to attendees. It is all about how you present yourself. Store your descriptions in a place where you can go right to them. You want to know how your description appeared in last year’s Guide, and make changes if changes apply. Preparing for a trade show appearance requires project management. We can help. Ask about the Metro Exhibits Trade Show Checklist. We’ll send it to you.

7. Ask for the Attendee List

You know the profile of your prospective customers. You should also know your existing customers. If an updated attendee list is not available on the Exhibition’s website, ask for it. Know who is coming to the show. This is an occasion to reconnect with your existing customers. If there is an issue with any of the existing customers planning to be present, your staff at the booth should know about it. However large your company may be, don’t make it seem so large that you don’t pay attention to your customers. The prospects on the attendee list are the main reason you have invested in the trade show. You should know their names, what they look like, their positions at the company, how long they have been in those positions, the size and location of their companies, plus any other relevant details you can gather. From LinkedIn and company websites alone, there is just too much information easily accessible that you should not know as much as possible in advance about the prospects you hope to draw into your booth.

8. Send Personal Messages in Advance of the Show.

If the attendee list available to you does not include email addresses, do your best to find them out. Send out a meaningful, personal email saying something about what you will be showing and how much you are looking forward to a booth visit. The more your email message looks like a mass email sent at the last minute, the less effective it will be. Remember, every action you take is a marketing action that creates an impression. Every marketing action should be aimed at achieving your sales goal. This is the reason you have invested in the trade show.

9. Be an Active Listener on the Trade Show Floor

When a prospect enters the sphere of your booth, deliver your message for sure, but also listen actively to what the prospect says. Take notes on the back of the prospect’s business card, or on an iPad after the conversation ends. Write down questions you were asked or trace where the conversation led, even in non-business directions. These details will be useful in your follow-up. In your email or telephone follow-up, you may have to remind the prospect that you met. It’s easier to do that with specific details. Answering real questions is your first delivery on your company’s offering. Make it work.

10. Get the Post-Show Attendee List

This list will include late sign-ups and walk-ins. Find out how long it will take to get this list. Don’t wait for the list to do your follow-ups. You already have the last published attendee list before the show. Most of the names will be on that list. When you do get the post-show list you can always compare and do the same follow up to this smaller list of additions.

11. You Must Follow Up

The attendees at the show fall into two groups: those who stopped by your booth and those who did not stop by. Both groups include your existing clients and prospects. Usually, different people at the company are responsible for clients and prospects. Let’s focus on the prospects. Send them personalized emails including details about your conversation. If you were asked a question, answer it. The goal here is to get an exchange going. Because emails can be sent out quicker than phone calls can be made, send emails first and follow up with phone calls. Rate your prospects from top to bottom. If you cannot get to all of them in a timely fashion, contact the most promising first. You should, however, get to them all, because when a lead turns into a sale is not always dependent on your offering. It often depends on the prospect’s timing, which is not always apparent. Remember, the entire reason you have invested in the trade show is to generate leads. Eventually, someone will compare the cost of the show to how much business was generated. If you don’t follow up effectively, you are throwing away your investment.

12. Learn from the Session Descriptions

Take back to your office more than one copy of the Exhibit Guide, and read through the session descriptions. Give additional copies of the Guide to other members of your company. Although this information is also probably listed online, the book itself is a good reminder to read about the sessions. If you were lucky enough to have a representative who gave a session, find out who attended and what questions were asked. Find out what companies were in the audience and match these companies to your prospect list. The sessions are a guide to what is considered important in your industry at the current time. If there are session topics about which your company is unaware, bring them to management’s attention. Learn from them.

13. A Trade Show is Like an Open Book

Actually, it is more like a magazine or television show, in which the attendees are like readers or viewers, the exhibitors like advertisers, and the educational sessions like the editorial in the magazine or the content of the TV show. The attendees come for the content, and they come across the exhibitors on the way to that content. Your job is to lure them into your space with the excellence of your booth design, the intelligence and relevance of your messaging, the product demo or conversational exchange, or both, that you conduct.

14. The Importance of Leads

All the work you do to prepare for the show, and however well you perform at the show, can only be measured by the leads you generate and the disciplined way you follow up those leads. Contact us. Metro Exhibits will evaluate your trade show needs and make recommendations. We design, build, and print all signage for your trade show booth, along with purchase and rental options. After all that, we ship, store and install booths, and we will advise you on the best way to manage your trade show expenses. Our goal is to make your trade show experience a success.

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Trade Show ROI – Measuring Your Return on Investment

people meeting at trade show

The Irreplaceable Value of Trade Shows

There is no question that trade shows are an investment of time, energy and money. But the returns can be incredible.

Trade show newcomers and veterans alike know that nothing replaces actual in-person marketing to launch new products and services, demonstrate exciting technology, meet new contacts, renew relationships, showcase product lines, minimize churn, develop partnerships, rebrand or launch your brand in a new industry, recruit distributors and talent, observe the competition and magnify your brand to your best audience at the precise time when they’ve come, ready to engage, learn–and buy.

If you’re looking to start, grow or maintain your B2B business, especially after more than a year of virtual-only contact, trade shows are a necessity.  And doing it the right way begins and ends with accurate and consistent ROI planning and reporting.

Getting the Highest Trade Show ROI Begins with Knowing Why You’re Going

The way to achieve the highest ROI (return on investment) on your trade show investment–whether you are exhibiting or attending–is to begin with a clear measurable goal (e.g., gain 25 qualified leads, or demonstrate a new technology to 100 attendees), and then a strong, thoughtful strategy to achieve that goal (e.g., focus on a new or improved product use or have the company’s lead scientist present during the show).

Every element of your booth design, script, giveaways, presentations, planned meetings–indeed every tactic–must ladder up to that strategy as a means of achieving that goal. Those tactics then help determine your KPIs.

Measuring Your Trade Show Investment with KPIs

In your trade show pre-planning phase, you, your team and your leadership should decide which Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will demonstrate a successful conference or exhibition.

Typically, trade show KPIs are a combination of any of these metrics:

  • exhibition booth visitors
  • newsletter subscriptions
  • conversations
  • contact information
  • demonstrations
  • badge scans
  • purchases
  • appointments set
  • surveys completed
  • in-booth meeting attendees
  • presentation audiences
  • samples distributed
  • show offer/coupon redemptions
  • full conversions
  • marketing collateral distributed
  • press releases posted/published
  • social media posts, engagements, actions
  • show attendance

These performance indicators are measurable actions that should also be used as part of your analysis for future event planning. This trade show data will be instrumental in determining which shows and approaches work best for you.

Using Technology to Measure ROI

Technology makes it easy to collect critical data for measuring your trade show ROI. With digital badge scanning and platforms such as tablets and kiosks, getting information about your target audience is quick and accurate.


Increasing KPI Success with Engagement Tactics

Now how do you get those visitors to supply their personal information at those kiosks? Games, giveaways, and contests are effective in getting conference and show attendees to provide their contact information. Whether it’s a grand prize winner, a fun game, or the show’s most popular give away, these trade show engagement tactics will return a larger group of leads who will need to be qualified post-show.

Beyond the KPIs

Keep in mind that beyond immediate data, there are soft, more subjective wins, such as the information you garner from current or potential client questions and feedback, on-booth surveys, observing what your competitors are doing, recruiting the perfect candidate, gaining brand awareness, or even gathering great ideas for your next trade show booth.

Winning the Attribution Game

Experiential marketing leaves impressions on attendees that can go unmeasured. With so many points of entry, attribution–knowing exactly how and where a visitor became a lead–is a challenge for marketers. A simple way to uncover this important information is to ask it on onsite contact forms (where did you first hear about us?), or asking your sales reps to ask the question, especially when leads call in or send direct emails.


Start with at least one clear goal, then a strategy to achieve that goal. Then, develop the tactics to support the strategy. For instance:

  • Goal: Meet with 10 qualified overseas decision makers to demonstrate new technology
  • Strategy: Be mindful of foreign traveler time and language challenges
  • Tactic: Send invitations to potential leads in advance of the show; use simple graphics (vs text) booth signage; distribute SlimJims or business cards and small “American” giveaways at the show to minimize visitors’ luggage weight, then follow up by mailing full marketing collateral and larger gift as an additional touchpoint; design tradeshow booth with a safe, comfortable conference room that minimizes outside noise
  • KPIs: Number, length and quality of on-booth meetings, contact information, meeting follow-up appointments

Showing your leadership (and yourself) the value of your tradeshow efforts will increase success at future shows and make the most of your investment–every time.

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