How to ace trade shows

What will you need to take into account before, during and after a trade show?  Here Richard Warneke from RW Marketing explains:

Trade shows and exhibitions are great channels to promote your brand or business, and can be a rewarding experience for all those business owners looking to market their products and services and to convert leads. However, the preparation required is often an overwhelming experience that, without careful planning and research, can be a waste of your time and money. At RW Marketing, we have prepared a checklist of key steps you should take into account before, during and after your show. Common reasons businesses do a show: 

Branding and presence: To build the brand and exposure of the business. 

Meet existing clients: Many of your clients are probably there anyway, so it’s a good time to organise a quick meeting or to remind them of you, especially if you don’t get to all of them. 

Meet new clients: Not everyone that’s visiting the trade show is going to know you. This is a great opportunity to attract those potential new clients and convert them into existing ones. 

Increase sales 

Launch a new product or service 

Relaunch a brand especially after a rebrand

Note: Don’t just go because you always do or your competitors are there; have a reason and give people a reason to come to your stand.

Tip: If possible, look to tie your new product launches with the expo date


Set the goals and objectives as to why you are exhibiting.


      Set targets and milestones that you can measure so you can gauge the success of the show.



      Identify your audience and what you want to get from them. Then, define how will you capture their attention. What are you offering them that will make them feel identified with your brand, therefore, visit your stand?


          Make sure you put in the effort. Doing a show is not just about renting the space and setting up a booth and putting someone there for a few days. 


          Materials to consider:
          Product information sheets: 
          Create them professionally, use nice photos, have a simple and clear message and include a call to action. At shows people get lots of information and documents so you need to make sure yours don’t get lost in the crowd.

          Samples are always a good way for people to remember your product.
          Business cards and company contact details:

          Make sure you give your details to the right contacts.
          Company profiles:

          These documents are a great way to communicate your business, brand, and product or service.

          Tip: Company profiles are more professional than lots of loose brochures, and more convenient for people to carry around.

          Website should be current and up to date: Ensure that your booth and literature graphics are consistent in both look and messaging and are aligned with your website. People from the show are likely to visit your website, so have it set up and ready. 

          Data Capture: How will you communicate with your leads after the show?

          Merchandise: Useful merchandise is always a good way for people to remember your brand. 

          Make it easy for your client: If you have lots of products, a nice bag is a useful way to keep your contents together.


          Who will be working on the stand and do they have enough knowledge about the products or services you are providing?


          Promote your presence through integrated marketing communications. Let your existing and potential customers know that you are exhibiting. Use a crosschannel strategy to promote the event and your participation. This may include website, newsletters and SMS through your social media channels and/or through printed marketing material. 

          Send personalised invitations and encourage word of mouth.

          At the show

          At the show you need to stand out from the crowd. Although there are many guests and visitors you need to ensure that you can attract them to your stand and once

          you have them there, communicate your offering and message clearly to ensure they understand what you are about.

          1.VISUAL AIDS

          Mounted TVs are useful to grab attention.

          • High quality videos and interactive media are good ways to attract people’s attention as they move and are dynamic.

          • Given the noisiness of expos, subtitles are a must.


          • Custom stands are always beneficial, as their difference makes them stand out. They can also give you the flexibility to build the stand the way you need it to work based on your requirements. Custom stands do no need to be expensive, but if done right can attract customers.

          3. ATTRACT AND ENGAGE:

          Once people are on the stand, the team should be dressed properly so people can easily identify who is part of the stand.

          • Staff should be proactive and introduce themselves. Often customers are scared to ask, or unsure what you do and are looking for visual queues or for you to start the conversation.

          • Use games, lucky draws, contests, product demos, guided booth tours, charging stations and other creative forms of entertainment.

          Tip: This is the payoff – you’ve given people a reason to enter your stand, now you have your booth full of potential buyers and clients. Remember, make sure your staff are well trained and ready to capture these leads. Take advantage of this opportunity!

          4. SAMPLING

          • If you are sampling, make sure you have a reason for it, otherwise people may just see it as free food. Make sure you explain what it is, the benefits and advantages.

          • It’s also good to have brochures relating to the products you are sampling so people can try the sample and then take the brochure with them for future reference.

          5. KEEP IT RELEVANT

          Ensure the contents you are giving out are relevant to what you are promoting, so it does not become overwhelming. You can always follow up later after the show with other products, but remember the person was interested in a certain product, not all the other products that you did not showcase to them, so keep it relevant.

          6. DATA COLLECTION

          • Now that people are at your stand, what do you want them to do? You want them to buy your products, however this does not always happen at the show. Instead, you should try to aim to grab their contact details. Scanning devices are invaluable to capture data; it saves entering lots of business cards later and trying to remember who they are.

          Tip: If you prefer to collect business cards, staple them into a notebook and make some comments next to them explaining what the person was talking about and their needs so you can follow up later.


          • Try and book in a follow-up appointment after the show, so you don’t forget and neither does the customer.

          Tip: This is an easy step which increases your chance of converting the lead.

          Post show

          Many businesses do a show and celebrate afterwards saying what a great show. But the show is only half the journey. Your job now is to convert the leads, follow up on enquiries and communicate with those who came to your stand. 

          1. FOLLOW UP

          Follow up with those that came to the show as they generally will not follow up with you. It should be your priority to do so, as that’s often why you went to the show – to meet new clients, see old ones and get your name out there. 

          • Emails are a great way to stay in touch with people, so send them a thank you email for coming, acknowledge them and remind them that one of your team will be in touch over the coming days. From here you can then organise a personalised email to follow or a phone call. 



          • Look at your website traffic over the following months and see if website traffic increases. 


          • Look to your Google Business data also. 


          • Ask the sales team how the leads, enquiries and follow ups went. 

          GOALS VS. RESULTS: 

          • Now let’s check and see if you achieved the goals. If so well done, if not why not...?

          Final thoughts

          • Your trade show booth will make an instant first impression on your clients and potential ones. Make sure that it is functional, relevant and well-branded. And remember, do not put the wrong person in the booth. A bad experience with your staff can lead to the wrong impression on your brand. 

          • A poor display is completely unacceptable.
          • Address a consistent message between your booth and your printed and digital channels (website, brochures, social media).
          • You need to define your goals; don’t make your show just for fun, as this is less likely to lead to any conversion.
          • Not following up is not an option.
          • Remember that much of your exhibition’s success (or failure) will be determined by what you do/skip doing in your planning stage and post-show follow up. 

          What next?

          If you are thinking of taking part in a trade show, we’re happy to discuss how we can help you. We have the experience and networks needed to help in all aspects of taking part of a tradeshow, from the marketing strategy and collateral to design and production of the booth.

          Talk to:  1300 737 707