Top Trade Show Marketing Tips: 12 Do's and Don'ts

Top 12 Trade Show Marketing Tips

Don't let the idea of exhibiting at a trade show overwhelm you. It's a great way for your business to build brand awareness, demo new products, create industry connections, and gain new customers. The key is making the most of your time at the event. To make things easier, we've split our top 14 trade show marketing tips into do's and don'ts for exhibitors. Here's a list to help you achieve your trade show goals:

Do's for Trade Show Marketing

1. Define your trade show marketing strategy and goals

When it comes to trade show marketing, you should always start by defining your goals. What objectives will you use to define success? There will be a number of ways to track your return-on-investment. For example, it number of leads or number of face-to-face meetings in the booth? You should decide what strategic brand objectives you want to focus on at the trade show or convention.

2. Outline your trade show marketing budget

Once you have your goals set, you can use them as a guiding force to create your trade show marketing budget. If you're not sure how to begin, we've put together a whole post on trade show budgeting you can check out. It goes over a typical cost breakdown and simple way to calculate a ballpark budget for your trade show display.

3. Design a custom trade show display

We know it may be tempting to choose a cheaper, generic trade show display. However, many businesses achieve a higher ROI with a custom exhibit. After all, you're investing a lot of time and resources when your business attends a trade show. How you can make the most of it depends on your unique business and brand objectives. You can use this post to help you decide if going custom is right for your business.

4. Consider custom exhibit rentals as an option

It may surprise new exhibitors, but not all exhibit rentals are generic. Some exhibit companies offer highly custom trade show exhibit rentals. If you're not sure which option is right for your business, look for full-service exhibit agencies that can discuss your business needs and help you choose the right exhibit size, type and design for your brand.

5. Think about traffic flow when designing your exhibit

You don't want a bottleneck of customers trying to interact with your trade show sales team. During the exhibit design process, talk to your designer or team about how to make the most of your space. Depending on the size of your booth, you can consider designating separate areas for customers to lounge or test your product. 

6. Designate a private area for client meetings

Arguably the best aspect of trade show marketing is the opportunity for face-to-face meetings with prospects and clients. Having a semi-enclosed space in your exhibit is one of our favorite trade show trends. It can help your sales team capture potential customer's attention away from the busy show floor. 

Braskem exhibit with private meeting space for trade show marketing

Don'ts for Trade Show Marketing

1. Don't trust your trade show display to just anyone

When it comes to investing in your trade show display, we recommend partnering with a full-service exhibit agency. Full-service exhibit companies like us can take care of every step of the process, from design and fabrication and installation. You'll save a lot of time, stress, and money by not having to coordinate it all with different companies. You'll also ensure you get the highest quality result. That leads us to our next don't -

2. Don't forget to include these expenses in your budget..

If you're not working with a full-service exhibit firm, you may not be familiar with all the different steps of a trade show display. Don't make the mistake of forgetting to budget for shipping, installation, dismantling, and storage costs. These are all unavoidable components of exhibiting, so you'll want to plan for it upfront in your trade show marketing budget.

3. Don't overcrowd your exhibit with every product

It's important to be strategic. Not only do you want to maintain the flow in your booth, you also want to give your team the best chance to generate sales. It can be hard when there's too many products for booth visitors to choose from. It's a good idea to showcase only your best or newest products that you think will connect with that trade show's audience. Not only will it allow you to design a cleaner aesthetic for your booth, it will improve your success at the show.

4. Don't wait to order your marketing materials

Don't wait until the last minute! Brochures, flyers, branded swag and any marketing collateral your team will need can take time to design, print, and ship. Save on stress by ordering everything a few months before the show. We've put together an easy-to-follow trade show planning timeline you can use as a guide.

5. Don't assume prospects will come to you

With trade show marketing, you might assume you can simply show up to a convention or expo with a great exhibit and team and be done. However, in order to truly make the most of your investment and time at the show, you should always do pre-show marketing. This can include social media posts, email campaigns, and calling prospects that will be attending and setting up appointments ahead of time. 

6. Don't stop marketing when the trade show ends!

That's right. Post-show marketing is another important way to make the most of any trade show, convention, or expo. Now that you've attended, had fun, met new business contacts, and left with a ton of sales leads, don't stop there! Ensure your sales team has a plan in place for following up so you can turn those great leads into customers.

Still looking for more ideas for your trade show marketing? Take a look at some of the unique custom trade show exhibits we build for our clients. If you’d like to discuss how we could help design your next project, click here to contact our team.

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"Thank you so much for pulling LIGHTFAIR together for us this year! The booth looked amazing and we couldn’t have done it without all of your hard work and dedication to the project. "

Lesley Matt, Director of MarketingTCP Lighting

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