Trade Show Marketing Strategy: 4 Keys for Success

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Trade shows are bustling hubs of innovation, knowledge-sharing, and networking. They offer a golden opportunity for your business to showcase your products or services to a targeted audience. However, not all exhibits are created equal. To make the most out of your experience, four key successful trade show marketing strategies stand out as being essential: Trade show booth preparation, pre-show Marketing, High-Quality, Engaging Content, Trained, Professional Staff, and the all-important Post-event Follow-up.

1. Trade Show Booth Preparation

Planning cannot be overstated. Booth design, staff training, and promotional materials are just a few elements that need attention. Let’s consider Company A, which operates in the SaaS sector. They meticulously plan for a renowned tech trade show every year, starting six months in advance. They focus on booth design, ensuring it aligns with their brand aesthetic and is inviting to attendees. Their results are invariably superior to Company B, a competitor that resorts to last-minute preparations.

The Importance of Preparation

In the bustling atmosphere of a trade show, attendees are inundated with information, visuals, and competing demands for their attention. According to a study from Freeman, attendees spend, on average, only seconds glancing at each booth as they walk through exhibit halls. This means that exhibitors have a limited window of opportunity to capture attention and generate interest. Consequently, the design and presentation of your booth are critical elements that can either draw attendees in or see them pass by without a second glance.

Inviting Trade Show Booth Design

First impressions matter significantly. An inviting booth design employs color, light, and space to create a welcoming environment. Choosing a color scheme that aligns with your brand. Also, stand out to make your booth more memorable. High-quality lighting can not only illuminate your products but can also be used to create a mood or highlight specific areas of your booth.

Excitement Factor

While the appearance of your booth draws attendees in, excitement keeps them engaged. Interactive displays, live demos, or even short, impactful presentations can infuse energy into your booth. Consider having a giant screen displaying real-time social media feeds related to your brand or product, or hosting quick, 5-minute “how-to” sessions that relate to your product or industry. You could even introduce a gamification element, like a digital scavenger hunt, to keep attendees engaged longer.

Eye-Catching Elements

Unique, eye-catching elements can set your booth apart from the rest. These could range from 3D holographic displays to live art installations or unique architectural elements. In an event filled with banner stands and tablecloths, something unexpected can serve as a powerful visual magnet.

For example, BeeCentral Technology brought an entire mini-room with full power that Exp1st partnered to build. The room was outfitted with a door that triggered their smart-home automation. To top it all off we even included carpeting and turf with a mailbox and flowers. The booth ended up costing less than $2,000 to make and was easy to move and assemble.

2. Pre-Trade Show Marketing

Promoting your presence beforehand is equally significant for trade show success. Early engagement is crucial for maximizing impact. Emails, social media posts, and partnerships with conference organizers are powerful tools for publicizing your presence. We recommend commencing your promotional efforts at least 2-3 months in advance and incrementally intensifying your advertising as the event date draws nearer.

Scheduled Emails

A well-thought-out email campaign can set the stage for your exhibition. Start with a ‘Save the Date’ email, followed by regular updates that offer sneak peeks into what attendees can expect at your booth. You can also personalize these emails based on different customer segments to ensure higher engagement. According to Campaign Monitor, segmented campaigns can drive a 760% increase in revenue.

Social Media Blitz

Utilize all social media platforms where your target audience is active. Create a content calendar that schedules regular posts about your upcoming exhibit. You can incorporate various types of content such as teaser videos, interviews with team members, and countdowns. Also, consider paid social media advertising to reach a wider yet targeted audience.

Collaborate with Organizers

Don’t overlook the importance of forming strategic partnerships with the conference organizers. They can provide you with extra visibility in conference materials, websites, and even during the event itself. Sponsorship opportunities, such as branded lanyards, conference bags, or coffee breaks, can offer additional avenues to capture the attention of attendees.

Interactive Content

As you get closer to the conference date, consider launching interactive content like quizzes or polls that tie back to your exhibit’s main theme. This engages potential attendees and can make your booth a must-visit destination during the event.

Retargeting Campaigns

Retargeting is a powerful tool for your trade show marketing strategy or any digital marketing campaign. About a month before the conference, start retargeting campaigns aimed at those who have interacted with your earlier promotions but haven’t committed to attending your exhibit.

Media Partnerships

If applicable, forge media partnerships to get your exhibit mentioned. Focus on industry publications, blogs, or podcasts. This broadens your reach and lends credibility to your exhibit.

By implementing these advanced promotional techniques, you’ll be setting the stage for a successful conference exhibit, maximizing both engagement and potential lead generation.

2. High-Quality, Engaging Content

The primary goal for most companies at a conference is to engage attendees effectively. For many, customer engagement is the main reason for exhibiting at trade shows and conferences. But how can you ensure that attendees visit your booth and interact meaningfully with your brand? The answer lies in providing genuine value.

Product Demos

Live product demonstrations are a straightforward yet impactful way to showcase the benefits of your product or service. Attendees get to see firsthand what sets your offering apart. All while having the opportunity to ask questions in real time. This interactive exchange often results in a deeper understanding of your product’s unique selling points, and subsequently, higher engagement levels. According to CEIR, live demonstrations yield a 104% increase in visitor dwell time at your booth compared to those without demos.


Workshops serve a dual purpose. Firstly, they position your brand as an authority in the field. Instilling trust and confidence among potential clients. Secondly, they provide educational value to attendees, thus making their visit to your booth worthwhile. Whether it’s a quick 15-minute session on industry best practices or a hands-on tutorial on using your product, workshops can be tailored to suit different engagement levels and areas of interest.


High-quality, informative presentations can serve as another method to offer value. These presentations can revolve around industry trends, case studies, or problem-solving techniques related to your field. Well-executed presentations can not only draw a crowd but also spark discussions. Fostering deeper engagement and trust in your organization.

The Importance of Value-Added Engagement

In summary, the key to successful engagement at conferences is to provide value in a manner that resonates with the attendees. This could range from educating them through workshops and presentations, captivating them with live product demos, or mesmerizing them with high-tech experiences like augmented reality. By focusing on delivering genuine value, you elevate the attendee experience from mere interest to meaningful engagement. Ultimately, increasing the likelihood of converting these interactions into long-term business relationships.

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3. Trained, Professional Staff

The Human Element

Trained, professional staff can offer invaluable personal interaction that digital means cannot match. Staff not only needs to be knowledgeable about the product but also skilled at reading people and situations.

The Importance of Staff

However, it’s not just about visual and interactive elements. Your staff plays a pivotal role too. According to a study by Oxford Economics, face-to-face requests are 34 times more successful than those made via email. Staff must be trained to be inviting and engage passersby in meaningful conversations quickly. They need to be skilled at quickly identifying the needs of attendees. Then quickly explain how your product or service can meet those needs.

4. Post-event Follow-up

The conclusion of a conference does not signify the end of the opportunity. In many ways, it marks the beginning. In today’s competitive market, this ‘speed-to-lead’ metric is not just a best practice. It’s a necessity for business success. Data from, suggests that the vendor who is first to respond seizes between 35-50% of sales.

Utilizing CRM Systems

Modern CRM systems have functionalities that allow for the tagging and organizing of leads. These leads can be marked with notes and tags from the interactions during the conference. These can cover special requirements noted from a conversation or signify their potential value. By leveraging technology, like HubSpot, you can ensure that no lead falls through the cracks.

Categorizing Leads

Categorizing your leads can be the key to post-conference exhibiting success. All collected leads can sorted into different categories, such as ‘Hot Leads,’ ‘Warm Leads,’ and ‘Cold Leads,’ based on the interest level shown by the attendees.

‘Hot Leads’ might be individuals who spent a considerable amount of time at the booth, participated in a product demo, or explicitly expressed a desire for a follow-up conversation. ‘Cold Leads’ might simply be those who dropped a business card into a bowl. This granularity allows for more targeted and personalized follow-up actions, thereby increasing the likelihood of conversions. CRM systems like those mentioned above make this kind of categorization and personalization easier.

Personalized Messaging

Personalization is not just a buzzword. It’s a proven strategy to improve engagement rates. According to Experian, personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates. Using a CRM system, such as HubSpot, can automatically send out customized messages based on the lead categories.

For instance, ‘Hot Leads’ might receive an email that references the specific product demo they were interested in, along with an exclusive offer or invitation for a one-on-one consultation. On the other hand, ‘Cold Leads’ may receive a more general thank-you note with an option to subscribe to your company’s newsletter for updates. These messages can be crafted ahead of time. Then are sent within 48 hours of the event’s conclusion, striking while the iron is still hot and the conference experience is fresh in attendees’ minds.

Cross-Channel Retargeting Strategies

An often-underestimated tactic in post-conference follow-up is retargeting. Setting up cross-channel advertising on LinkedIn, Google, and Facebook provides a greater window of opportunity and brand awareness. One great use case for retargeting is to create a series of remarketing campaigns that display when leads are searching for related keywords or browsing websites that fall within the same industry.

Retargeting serves a dual purpose: it reinforces the brand image for those who have shown interest by visiting your booth, and it re-engages individuals who might not have responded to your initial follow-up efforts.

You can even vary the level and amount spent on leads depending on their level of interest. These more complex campaigns require deeper data. However, linking your CRM, website, and other data points can lead to a more robust trade show marketing strategy with greater returns and profits.

Monitoring and Analysis

The process doesn’t stop at sending the initial messages. Closely monitor open rates, engagement metrics, and any subsequent actions taken—like clicking on a product link or scheduling a meeting. Continually refine your follow-up approach over time. This ongoing analysis helps in adjusting future strategies and provides valuable insights for upcoming events.

In summary, the end of a conference should be seen as the beginning of numerous potential business relationships. With a structured follow-up strategy, advanced CRM systems, and a focus on personalized engagement, you maximize your chances of converting new leads into loyal customers.


Exhibiting at a conference is a multi-faceted endeavor that requires meticulous planning, engaging content, professional staff, and prompt follow-up. Incorporating these four strategies will not only ensure that your exhibit stands out but also that it accomplishes the goal of enhancing brand awareness and driving sales.

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