In 2016 alone, U.S. trade shows generated over $12.8 billion. Want to tap into some of that revenue? Then you need to focus on trade show marketing.

It’s tempting to just show up to a trade show to see what happens. But even if you’ve never been to one before, you can easily maximize your trade show time by using some simple marketing tactics. You’re already spending time and money to be there, so why not get the most for it?

If you’re not sure how to approach trade show marketing, we’re here to help. Keep reading to learn how to turn your trade show experience into new revenue!

1. Target the Right Shows

First, your task is to make sure you attend the right trade shows. You want quality over quantity, so you’re not wasting time at shows that aren’t really a good fit for your business.

Do plenty of research to make your decisions. If you have a limited budget, you’ll probably want to start by targeting trade shows in your area.

Look for local trade shows that fit with your industry, then take a closer look at the people who usually attend. Are they your target audience? If not, even if the trade show is in your industry, it’s probably not a good fit for you.

To learn more about a show, you can check out their website, look at their social media accounts, and use Google to find any reviews posted online. You can often learn a lot from the reviews on their social media, photos on their website, and more.

You may also want to research the other companies at their trade show. If they’re similar to yours, how will you set yourself apart? If they’re very different, how will you show that your company is a good fit for attendees?

Finally, you might want to contact other businesses who were represented at that show. You can learn a lot about what to expect from the experiences they share with you.

2. Start Planning Early

While researching trade shows, make sure to target ones that leave you with plenty of time to plan. You want to catch eyes and stand out, and you’ll need to put in the work to do so.

The more time you have, the more creativity and interest you can add to your design plans.

Think about which kinds of displays are already seen at shows like that, then think about how to make yours stand out. What might your target audience be looking for that they don’t yet see there?

3. Have a Lead Generation Approach

What action do you ultimately want to get from the people who encounter you at a trade show? Building your strategy around that will help you get the results you want.

For example, maybe your ultimate goal is to collect email addresses or get more social media followers. In that case, it might make sense to have a tablet on hand where you can gather and use that information from attendees immediately.

If your goal is simply to raise awareness of your brand, a great strategy might include bringing some great branded merchandise to give out.

You can also leverage your time at a trade show by building in face-to-face meeting time with the prospects you meet there.

Don’t just connect with potential clients on a shallow level. Have a strategy that goes deeper to get the results you really want.

4. Spend on Your Display

A cheaply made or DIY display won’t do you any favors. To make your trade show time worthwhile, you need a booth that catches eyes from afar, and looks great up close, too.

It’s tempting to put together the display yourself, but you’ll risk looking like you brought a middle school science fair project. Instead, this is a good time to spend more and invest in a display made by industry experts.

You can also consider this an investment in your future. Try to design a display that will work well at many different trade shows, so you can use it again and again.

5. Start Building Buzz

As the trade show date approaches, start making your presence known. You’ll want your customers and interested parties to know they can find you there, and you can also give them new incentives to show up.

For example, you can use your social media channels to get your followers excited about the show. Invite your followers to come by offering a free giveaway if they stop by your booth.

If you get current customers coming to your booth, it will make you look popular and interesting, which can help get new customers to stop by, too.

Don’t just focus on connecting with new people — build buzz with your current followers, too.

6. Make it Interactive

You’ll get more people stopping by your booth if you can offer a cool, interactive experience.

Think of a trade show as being sort of like a popularity contest.

Your goal is to be the cool, interesting booth that everyone wants to hang out at. If you only have static content or quick giveaways, you won’t achieve that goal.

You can use all kinds of strategies to make your booth interactive, but some of the best ones harness modern technology to do so. Try using an interactive touchscreen experience, or bringing a VR headset to immerse your booth visitors in your brand.

You can also focus on entertainment at your booth. Can you get people to laugh or give them a show?

This gives you another avenue for drawing people in that’s less heavy on technology.

Ready to Try These Trade Show Marketing Tactics?

Not all businesses report finding success at trade shows.

But that’s because not all businesses know how to do trade show marketing. If you follow these strategies, you’ll discover why trade shows can be such a valuable part of your marketing plan.

Looking for inspiration for your booth? Check out our design ideas here!

Gene Friedman

CEO & Trade Show Marketing Consultant at Infinity Exhibits
Gene is the CEO of Infinity Exhibits in Sarasota, FL. He is a trade show marketing consultant with over 20 years of professional experience in trade show display manufacturing and trade show events marketing. His clients are global and range in size from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies.
Gene Friedman
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