• marc

Top 5 Trade Show Marketing Countdown

Today I'm thinking about trade show preparation and pre-show marketing. There are so many logistics, details and possible creative tactics. But, it is really modular. A trade show presence or exhibition can be as large or as small as you want it to be or can manage from a time and money perspective. I have worked on both ends of the spectrum. But in almost all cases, I have managed every portion of it myself. While it is a lot of work, I must admit, I kind of like the control.


5. Know your budget first and plan accordingly

Dude, this is huge. I am STILL learning this lesson! Trade shows can be like impulse buying with the "we should do this" and "we should do that" mentality, especially when you have colleagues that work with you, pumping their grand suggestions your way. Time and experience helps with planning accordingly, but the whole process is smoother if you know your lane and you stay in it.


4. To use a vendor or to NOT use a vendor

I am honestly still split on the concept of using an exhibition vendor to build a booth or not. If you have the budget, there are many benefits, mostly with regard to logistics. I'm not sure if the cost is worth the creativity or lack there of that is contributed by most vendors. I personally have usually provided the main creative direction. If the budget is there though, I think it's a plus to use a vendor. If you don't have a budget and decide to work directly with the show organizer/vendor, you can DEFINITELY still have a very positive trade show. For smaller booths, I highly recommend going this route. 


3. Be on point

I am ALL for creativity, I mean, it's what I do, but make sure your presence (booth design and product in the booth) and messaging are on point. What do your customers want to see demonstrated? What will they benefit from seeing in person? What do your customers and potential customers need to know and need to experience in person to help THEM? Do THAT. A trade show isn't about how cool you and your company can be. It's about how you can help the people attending the trade show.


2. Communicate with your team

I put together a full slide presentation for the team of people working in the booth that includes a TON of information including: 

Show information and their registration (badges)

Hotel and transportation information

Booth schedule


Booth location, design and products in the booth

Giveaways or promotional items as well as show specials

Customer invites and show promo codes

Lead collection (how will they collect leads at the show)

Any other fun activities we may be doing, like a team dinner or event

The focus and goal of the show

I usually send this to them well in advance (a couple of months if possible) and then have a meeting as we get closer and go through it.


1. Pre-Show Marketing ALL YEAR

...or as soon as you know you are exhibiting at the trade show. The longer, the better. You want to drive booth traffic and you want the right people to come to your booth. There is so much you can do to promote your trade show presence, both paid and free things. Here are some:

FREE - In all applicable content, include the trade show information and booth number

FREE - Add it to your website

FREE - Create email signature (maybe graphic) with show info and booth number - have all employees use it on all emails

FREE - Invite your customer base (emails/calls), set up meetings and specific demonstrations. 

FREE -Social media positing and sharing - Post show information, specials, products on all social media channels and encourage employees to share - this could include creating a Facebook event for instance.

FREE - Write a press release (or two) to be sent to the show organizer - often they will post it. You can do one early and one closer to the show, highlighting your products, services in the booth.

FREE - Look for editorial and/or video coverage of your booth at the event. Then, you can use it to promote next year's show!

FREE SOMETIMES - Submit an abstract to present at the show - this is huge if you have or can create a paper that you can present at the show. Sometimes a minimal cost and often free to do. IF they accept your abstract, you will be added as a speaker. This is one of the best ways to drive booth traffic.

FREE - PRESS CONFERENCE - find out if you have the ability to have a press conference. Often, various industry and local news publications will be present and if you have a new technology or something different or inventive, you can pull together a press conference spot at no cost.

FREE/PAID - Have webinars (web conferences) with customers to talk about what they have a chance to see at the event. This can be free or you can pay to have it promoted/hosted.

PAID - Trade show organizers have advertising and sponsorship packages and single opportunities which often include a digital and on-site presence. Usually you can also purchase email blasts and traditional advertising.

PAID - In any existing advertising that is specific to the industry, include your booth number and show presence.