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Trade Show Marketing: Are you making the most of the opportunity?

9 Nov, 2018 Dylan Kettering Brand & Traditional Advertising

Trade shows are a unique marketing channel. Unfortunately, many B2B companies aren’t taking full advantage of the trade show format. For many companies, trade shows seem like an obligation and distraction rather than an opportunity. Let’s have a look at what makes trade shows unique and what opportunities they provide as a part of your marketing mix.

The Why

Making the most of trade shows comes down to the role they play in your marketing strategy. Know well in advance which shows you want to attend and what your goal in attending will be. The assets you need and the financial investment you make in a trade show should be balanced with the goals you have in attending. Are you looking to gather new leads, make new sales, or just promote brand awareness? Each goal will determine the level of investment you should put into a trade show.

The Where and When

Be selective about which trade shows you attend. Trade shows gather niche audiences from nearly every industry and profession. Based on your strategy, only attend the trade shows that put you in contact with your target audience.

The What

You have a strategy and trade shows on the calendar. Now you need to consider what to present. Refer back to your strategy and plan materials to have at the trades how according to your goals.

Common elements include:

  • Backdrop
    • Median size is around 8ft square
  • Standing Banners (also called pull-up banners)
  • Tablecloth
    • Standard lengths are 6ft, 8ft and 10ft. Consult with your venue to determine what length of table you need to prepare for.
  • Handout

Keep in mind that the design and production of these items will take a considerable amount of time. If you don’t already have this suite of materials, budget a month for their design and production. Also consider what hardware is needed in their set-up. If your trade show requires you to fly to the show, you will need to coordinate delivery of larger pieces that don’t fit in luggage or cannot be checked on a commercial flight.

Other considerations include:

  • Personnel
    • Who will be at your booth at any given time?
  • Information collection
    • How will you keep track on contacts made?

Making it Your Own

We’ve covered the core of what needs to be done to prepare for a trade show. Now comes the fun part. Consider what can make your presence at the trade show unique and memorable. Will you have a giveaway that people can get if they exchange contact info with you? Will you have a live demo of your product or service? The possibilities are endless but consider this; your unique opportunity is a person-to-person connection. Take advantage of being able to talk to people face-to-face.


Trade shows are a unique opportunity for marketers to get out their message and further their business objectives. Take the time to strategize and produce a unique and memorable experience.

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