5 Tips To Create a Solid Trade Show Marketing Strategy

Contrary to popular opinion, trade shows are not on a downhill journey due to the rise of online marketing. As a matter of fact, marketing technology and online marketing tactics complement offline marketing tactics when done right. Trade shows have managed to retain their importance over the years.

Still in doubt? 

Well, here are some statistics to prove it: 

77% of executive decision-makers found at least one supplier that they hired, from their last trade show visit. 

A calculation by spingo.com found that the cost of a face-to-face meeting with a prospective buyer at a trade show is $142. The cost of a face-to-face meeting at a prospective buyer’s office is $259. By taking advantage of a trade show, and correctly identifying and engaging with potential buyers, you can reap large monetary benefits.

Trade shows are clearly still important. So how do you create a solid trade show marketing plan?

Well, Alice Heiman, the founder of TradeShowMakeover, summed up the essence of creating the perfect show in one word: ‘preparation.’

So here are 5 tips to prepare and create a solid trade show marketing strategy:

1. Set up advance appointments

At the start of a successful strategy, you must have advance appointments. People value their time, and they like to do business with people who value theirs. A lot can depend up your attitude. What’s more, most of the attendees at trade shows would have already picked about 75% of the booths they are going to visit at the show.

You should, ideally, start taking appointments 4-8 weeks ahead of  trade show. 

According to FranklinCovey, the largest time management company in the world, people tend to remember appointment at weird timings. For example, a person is more likely to remember a meeting at 11:05 AM, than one at 12 O’ clock.

The advantage of these small things that no one else is thinking about, and you’re good to go.

An excellent practice is to maintain a CRM database to access all the appointments on a particular day so that you’re sure you don’t miss out.

2. First impression is the last impression

This age-old adage still stands the test of time, and so you have got to make sure that you have got a catchy, appealing and eyeball-grabbing booth in the first place.

This is Celgene’s booth at a trade show by Celgene:

Celgene’s booth

Celgene attends a lot of trade shows despite being a very profitable and renowned company. This is because it wants to, and has succeeded in, aligning consumer opinion with their brand imagery. 

They have succeeded in getting the public to think of them as a brand for the mass – in short, a people’s company. And a large part of it is due to the booths they display at trade shows.

A trade show booth should be warm, inviting, and appealing to the attendees. The attendees should feel the urge to walk up to it. A good booth creates an opportunity for the company representatives to engage with the attendees in a meaningful conversation, which can be followed up in the future.

A variety of different display options to appeal to different people is a good idea. Flyers, pamphlets, and reading materials are some of the commonest options you should have in your booth. 

Some attendees may like to see an HD video demo, and you should ideally have allowances for that as well. It not only displays your professionalism but also your commitment to your product.

3. Do extensive research

In the words of Charles F. Kettering, ‘Research means that you don’t know, but are willing to find out.’ 

And in trade shows that involve a huge amount of money, you simply can’t afford not willing to find out.

A thoroughly performed market research is a method that can pay rich dividends at a trade show. 

You can use it to your strategic advantage. An ideal market research about the industry you cater to should start well in advance, four to eight weeks before a trade show. An insightful research about the current product offerings, latest technologies, industry requirements and needs, and the current industry gaps and opportunities can provide you with the current market scenario. It can also tell you about the market trend of the industry, and gaps that are there to be filled. 

Aligning your product offerings based on the exact industry needs, in this case, can prove to be a masterstroke. This will help you remain a step ahead of your competitors, by offering exactly what the market requires, which can ultimately create all the difference at the trade show.

After all, 92% of all trade show attendees come to look at new products and offerings to see their value, and how they can fit in their business. Market research is the perfect way to take advantage of and fulfill their expectations.

4. Use business card and trade show badge scanners

It is quite astonishing that despite the demonstrated benefits of trade shows, 70% of the generated leads never receive any follow-up.

And that is a shame because 4 out of every 5 persons at a trade show have buying authority. You manage to influence them, and your job is done.

So how to go about doing that effectively?

Make sure to leverage technology and respond as fast as you can. The quicker you follow-up and get in contact with the prospective lead over email, phone call or direct visit, the more likely they are to remember you.

At a trade show, businesses collect hundreds of cards from prospective leads. 

It is well-nigh impossible to sort them out in time to make a meaningful approach again. That is why, you should use business card scanners to your advantage. These offer superior performance and a cutting-edge technological advantage over traditional methods. 

Business card scanners like ScanBizCards (which is an easy to use mobile app) allow users to directly scan the business cards collected at  the trade show, export the contacts to a CRM, or save to a CSV file. It also doubles as a badge scanner, and helps scan trade show badges, find the contact’s email, phone, company address and social media profiles and much more. All this is packed into a mobile app that you can use on your iPhone or iPad

This will help you sort out and rank the prospective leads and take a more targeted approach to effectively pursue them. 

Over 10 billion business cards are printed every year in the US alone, and over 88% of them are thrown out within a week of exchange. 

The online platform offered by the business card readers takes away the physical space and effort involved in rummaging through the cards and delivers you all the information you would require from them digitally.

With all your leads at your disposal instantly, after a trade show, you can engage with your leads while they’re still hot, which gives you a far better chance of making a sale.

5. Follow-up to nurture your leads

Proper follow-up and lead nurturing after a trade show is of paramount importance if you want to seal the deal. 

It’s crucial to identify the leads that are most likely to make a purchase, and focus on them much more than the others. This can be a difficult step, due to lack of clarity on which leads were actually interested.

The faster you approach the prospective customer after the trade show, the more likely they are to remember you and revert.

A good practice is sending them emails, messages or an invite to follow your business blogs. Adding a personal touch to it serves to have a more lasting impression on leads. 

However, trusting only emails to get the job done is something that is very difficult to happen. According to a survey, 24% of sales emails are ignored. 

In this case, a video is a much better bet, since 72% of B2B buyers watch videos at some point in time during the buying cycle, and you’ve got a better chance to influence them.

Carefully nurturing and following up on your leads is the quintessential step, since this ultimately brings conversions.


How you present yourself on the day of the trade show is also essential.

But prior planning, avoiding common mistakes, focusing on strengths, and having a solid plan for your trade show are imperative to your success.

An average attendee spends about 8 hours at a trade show. It’s a huge window for you to be able to prepare, execute, and influence prospective attendees and make a sale. 

All you need is the perfect strategy!