10+ Effective Trade Show Marketing Strategies (Tips)

64% of the attendees at the trade show are not existing customers of companies exhibiting at the event. 

So, clearly, there is a great opportunity to bring more exposure and brand awareness to your small business by attending the trade shows. 

And that’s just one of the many advantages of trade show participation for a small business. 

Trade Shows allow you to meet new prospects and generate high-quality leads with minimal effort. 

trade show tips for small business

Also, Ideal for developing some business networking and connection to grow as a community. 

Top Trade Show Marketing Strategies

List of some pro trade show marketing tips, tactics, and trade show marketing strategies to ensure the best results for the success of your small business. 

Outlining Your Business Goals For Trade Show 

One of the first things to do is decide what you want to achieve through the trade shows or any event you are attending. 

The purpose of participation should be clear and not assumed. Unclear goals can lead to failure in the translation of substantial results for marketing in trade shows. 

You might end up not knowing what you’ve gained even after a seemingly successful endeavor.

So it is essential you outline your company’s objectives for attending the trade shows. You have to map out various possibilities and paths that lead you through this event. 

Here are some of the objectives or paths :  

  1. Building a network with top-notch collaborators in your industry
  2. Reaching out to your targeted audience and potential customers
  3. Increase brand awareness in your industry or target community 
  4. Bringing people to your social media channels and getting new followers
  5. Finding clients and investors for your business 

And so on, 

Either enlist what you specifically aim to do or see what potentially can be achieved in the particular opportunity. 

Since every trade show, conference, seminar, or event are different; they offer a different set of marketing playfield for your business to go for. 

Pro Tips 

  • Some objectives you outline will give you better and faster ROI than others. So focus on the most effective ways to gain from the trade show.
  • Focus on the potential of the trade show towards you and then set reasonable goals to achieve.
  • Try to find other opportunities than direct selling. Focus on building a network, engaging with the audience, and increasing brand awareness. 

Opting For The Right Trade Show For Your Business To Attend 

One of the major faults for small businesses in promoting their business in trade shows happens to be not choosing the right one in the first place. 

A lot of small businesses even decide to visit at the last moment to attend the trade shows, where you tend to fail in optimizing the opportunity. 

You need to at least give yourself 90 days of prep time or even a month around to really make the best out of the events. 

Image Source: OnSight

Keep looking for trade shows that are relevant to your business and going to organize them all around the year. 

Focus on the ones that are going to happen in the next few months. It’s better you choose the events that have been consistently successful in past years. 

If trade shows are organized for the first time or just for the last two-three years, you still need to see whether it is worth your time or not. 

Pro Tip: If you don’t know where to start, you can check TSNN.com, which is a huge database for trade shows, along with their date, industry, location, and other details. 

Finding Out Whether The Trade Show Worth Attending Through Various Factors 

why trade show worth attending

You just don’t want to choose the right trade show for your business marketing and networking but also that can potentially give you the best results. 

So to ensure further that you are not wasting your precious time with a trade show ends up having no quantifiable and sustainable results, here are some factors to look for. 

Previous Years 

Check how many years the trade show is organized successfully. Make sure it is old and reputed enough to invest your time and have assurance in the potential of the event. 


You need to see whether this trade show or even is relevant to your industry or not. See whether there will be your potential customers or clients for your product. 

Also, are they in a position to buy from you there?  Or will they be okay to engage with you?  You have to see whether in the end, you can gain from this particular trade show or not. 

Official Website 

The trade show must have an official website which should be convincing whether your time will be worthwhile at the event. 

If you find the website unorganized, crappy or unprofessional in some sense, it is a big sign for not attending the trade show. 

It is evident that if organizers didn’t put enough effort into developing their website, they are more likely to treat the event the same. 

You are most welcome to judge the event through the conviction they put on their website. 

Previous Year’s Media Coverage 

You can also find out which or how many media outlets attended or covered last year’s event and also before that. 

Figure out what media response was to the events in their previous years and whether there are good changes in bigger media attendance this year. 

With huge media coverage, these events even led your business to put in interviews or get published as well. 

Celebrity Speakers

Celebrity or renowned speakers attract huge media outlets to the event bringing you maximum media exposure. 

So you can also check whether the supposed trade show hosts an impressive line of speakers at the event. 

Trade shows or events with big-name speakers tend to give more brand awareness and higher conversion for your products. 

Social Media Channels 

Social media channels of the event, company, or organization give you a clear idea about how popular and successful their trade show or event is. 

You get to know whether or at what level they are marketing their event. If they aren’t able to market their own event, it is unlikely they can help your product or brand in any way. 

Social media platforms such as Twitter help you understand the hype of the event amongst attendees as well. 

In any case, if they don’t have social media accounts, it is a big NO-NO sign for you right there. 


There are plenty of online forums, groups, and networks out there where you can find people talking about various trade shows, seminars, conferences, and other such events. 

Reddit is a great online resource to investigate a bit deeper with these trade shows. You can read people’s reviews and opinions in length. 

Since Reddit is a hotspot for marketing, the best thing you will witness is trade show organizers utilizing the platform at its best through their marketing and PR team. 

That’s actually a good sign in itself! 

Preparing Yourself For The Trade Show 

To ensure the success of visiting a trade show and optimize the best result for the valuable time, effort, and money you are investing as your company, prepping is crucial. 

80% of maximizing the ROI ( Return on Investment) you can assure before even attending the trade show. 

Pro Tip: Start researching the trade show as early as possible, figuring out the potential benefits you can achieve and practical strategies to do so. 

Addressing Your Competition 

It’s not just your company who will be attending this trade show but all of your competition as well. 

You need to find out who else is coming from your industry. Also, whether your competitors are getting their own booth?  Are theirs bigger than yours or may be a better spot? 

The best thing you can do is outdo your competitors in the trade show you are attending. 

Push the envelope even further by asking organizers about the number of attendees. Find out what to expect from the event as much as you can. 

Pro Tip:  Have detailed investigative research on your competitors to beat them in the competition. Try to get more booth space and a better location than your competitors. 

Speak At The Event 

This can be the best-case scenario considering gaining maximum exposure is key to a successful trade show visit for a small business. 

Yes, you must try to get a speaking opportunity amongst others at the event. 

You have to come up with something interesting to offer, something valuable backed with the credibility of your business and achievement. 

This needs pre-planning, so the earlier you send a proposal for a speaking gig to the organizers, the best chances you will get. 

Pro Tip: Speakers at the event often get some perks and advantages over others. You can get free tickets, booth space, and a lot more. You may even get paid for the gig as well. 

Have Your Printed Marketing Material With You

Print marketing material helps you present your business more effectively to potential customers and clients. 

You must bring enough business cards with you to give away to every potential person you meet there. It’s better to have access and get short with even one. 

Then, printed marketing materials or marketing kits will essentially help you convince people and make better conversions. 

Pro Tip: You can also bring or even replace printed marketing materials or kits with a digital press kit. 

Get Media List From Your Trade Show Organizers 

Communicate with the event organizers and tell them what essential announcements, product release or offers you are releasing at their event. 

It should be “breaking news” that should interest organizers as well as the media. Get the media list from them and contact every media person or organization. 

Prep them for the anticipation of the breaking news you are putting out at the event so they cover it primarily. 

Mention that you will be happy to give any interviews and be ready to put things into the schedule right away. 

Pro Tip:  Make sure you are pitching them an actual worthy “breaking news” that interests and benefits everyone, not just something self-serving.

Don’t Forget About Post- Event Business Marketing 

checklist after trade show visit

The success of your participation in a trade show doesn’t end with the closing reception of the event. There’s more to do! 

After a Trade show, you need certain things to do in order to maximize ROI on this effort and investment. 

Here’s the to-do list you need to check after attending the trade show 

  1. Release the media coverage for promotional purposes on social media platforms as well as on your official website and blog.
  2. Share information and your experience at the event generating valuable content to reach more people.
  3. Send a “thank you” note or call the media reports which covered your story or took your interview and helped you gain exposure.
  4. Follow up with those reporters informing them that you have promoted the content on various social media platforms. You can also tag them, also inform them of your further cooperation in any follow-up questions or interviews.
  5. Make calls to all those contacts you got at the event through business cards, emails, and phone numbers. Follow up about their experience and take the relationship further.
  6. Analyze the ROI you achieved in this particular trade show visit and what exactly it did for your business in quantifiable measures e.g., new sales, lead generation, etc. 

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