A trade show is a necessary evil in the marketing world.  On the one hand, it’s an opportunity to get your brand out in front of many people in a short span of time.  On the other, they can be a logistical pain, not to mention the investment in both time and money.

So how do you make the most out of your trade show investment?

  1. FIRST IMPRESSIONS:  Making a great first impression is critical.    Did you know that it takes 7 to 17 seconds to make a first impression?
    • The way you dress and act makes up 55% of how people first view you and your brand.
    • The quality of your voice and your grammar account for 48% and the words you use represent.   7% of a person’s initial opinion of you.
  2. ATTRACTING VISITORS:  Have you ever attended a trade show and walked by a booth where the attendees just glanced right by you?  Do the opposite of that.  A trade show is an opportunity to meet many people in one or a couple of days.  Think of how many phone calls or doors you would have to make to get that many leads opportunities.
    • Use high quality displays such as banners and graphics to attract people closer to your booth/table.
    • Take advantage of 80% of people that have no idea what a call to action is when they set up at a trade show.  Set up your banners with a call to action to increase engagement.
  3. TOP of MIND:  One way to help attendees remember you is by giving away something that is different from the usual note pad and pen.
    • Find a promotional item that doesn’t break the bank but represents your industry and/or brand in a memorable way.
    • 87% of attendees keep a branded promotional item for over a year, specially if the item has useful information such as a reference table of frequently used information or a calendar.
    • This is the time to invest in those higher end business cards.
    • Tend to non-buyers such as students and the competition with a smile and quickly move on.
  4. QUICK FOLLOW UP: Yes, I know that trade shows can be exhausting with the long hours and brain drain from interacting with a large amount of people.  But the first few days after the trade show is not the time to rest.
    • Follow up as soon as possible to increase your chances of making a sale.
    • 30-50% of sales are made by the vendor that is first to respond after a trade show
  5. MEASURE ROI: If you attend annual shows, you’ve probably faced the question of whether the results warrant your participation again.  You can’t really make a decision if you’re not measuring the return on your investment.
    • Take all of your investment into account, not just the monetary one.
      • How long were you away from your home market?
      • Did you neglect your current clients while you were “traveling on business” to the trade show?
    • Can you leverage any of the marketing materials from the previous year?
    • Is there a follow-up opportunity with those prospects that got away last trade show but might attend again this year?

In conclusion, trade shows offer a unique opportunity to shoot many fish in a barrel if you take the time to attend the right trade shows based on your ROI and make the most of your investment before, during and right after the show.


Carlos A. Noriega is the founder and Digital Strategist at LEAP interactive media group, a digital marketing agency specializing in digital marketing and web application development.  Interested in our services?  Contact Us for a free consultation!

Sources: Facetime.org.uk | Mediapost.com  |  Marlerhaley.co.uk  |  InsideSales.com  |  Brandwatch.com  |  Socialtalent.co