James Roloff by

Are you prepared for that upcoming trade show?


As a visitor, it’s not very hard to spot the trade show booth that came underprepared.  Even the staff working the booth can look around and see they were not ready; trying to gather the necessary materials at the last minute, or digging up old marketing pieces from the storage room.  Without a doubt, visitors will associate the lack of effort with your brand.

In order to really impress visitors and display your brand in a professional manner, preparation for trade shows needs to begin early.  Some steps in getting ready are more objective, like scheduling appropriate staff, and others are more intangible, like determining which products or services you are going to highlight.  Here is a quick overview of some of the ways we get ready:


 1. Theme

It helps for most organizations to have an overall theme to their trade show booth.  It can aid in making your message to visitors more clear, and help guide conversations.  By choosing a theme early on in the preparation process, you also make it easier for your planning by giving yourself a starting point for ideas.


 2. Products and Offers

You’ll want to consider which products or services of yours best fit into that theme as well.   Of course, you also want to make sure that the products you are highlighting are appropriate for the trade show’s audience.    It’s important to strike a balance between what you want to promote, along with what will grab attention from trade show visitors.

If grabbing attention is something you are concerned about, you may also want to consider including some sort of offer for your booth’s visitors.  They are a great way to start conversations and encourage visitors to stop by.


 3.Pre-Event Marketing Channels

You know the theme, which products and services you are going to promote and your offers, now it’s time to let the audience know.  It’s important to look at not just what marketing material you will need for the trade show itself, but also anything leading up to the show.

Review your organization’s main marketing channels and brainstorm how you can use them.  Ideally, you want to reach trade show visitors before, during and after the actual event.

Some good channels to consider reaching visitors before and after are:

  • Direct Mail
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • Websites
  • Advertisements (Magazine, Newspaper, etc)

4. Trade show Materials

Hopefully by the day of the trade show, you were already able to reach potential visitors through one of your marketing channels.  Your pieces or offers should have caught their interest enough to want to stop by your booth.  But obviously you can’t reach everyone, so your trade show booth materials will have to attract visitors as well.

You know your industry, the event and the visitors you want to attract.  However, in almost any case, having a professional looking trade show booth branded to your organization will make customers more apt to check you out.

Here is a quick list of some items we make sure to bring:

1. Wide Format displays

2. Banner Stands

3. Floor Graphics

4. Vinyl Banners

5. Posters

6. Business Cards

7. Flyers

8. Sign-up forms (if applicable)

9. Promotional Offer Pieces / Gift Certificates


5. Post-Event Follow Up

During the event, you had hopefully connected with many possible customers.   Either through a sign-up sheet or business card exchange, you hopefully had collected information, which you can then use to try to reach out to customers within the following weeks.

If you had sent out direct mail pieces in the weeks preceding the event, now would be a good time to send out another follow up piece to the same list.   Contacting visitors a couples weeks after the trade show event is a great way to remind them of the products and services you highlighted during the event.