Ready for the Big (trade) Show?

January, 25 2022

Fact: It takes delegates less than five seconds to walk by a 10-foot booth. This small window of opportunity requires a properly designed trade show booth to pique your audience's interest.

A properly structured trade show strategy generates leads and increases awareness of your unique offering.

Attending a trade show is an investment in your future. In addition to the often-hefty exhibitor fees, there are a number of incidental costs to consider; transportation to and from the show, accommodations, staffing, the cost of the display, and the all-important marketing support materials.

If you think about it, once you’ve targeted a particular event and have considered your expected sales return from attending, the cost of a well-designed trade show display and creating support materials is easily cost-justified. After all, the primary reason for attending a trade show is to connect with existing clients and find new customers.

A defined trade show strategy will help you accomplish that. You’ll attract attendees, giving you a reason to chat - an opportunity to connect and qualify potential customers. Poorly executed trade shows erode your brand and detract your business development efforts. The following are our suggestions to help you get noticed at your next show and improve your business development efforts.

Interview in front of the Ivanhoe Mines trade show display

Be On-Brand

Your presence at the trade event is an extension of your brand. All materials you create should reflect the style, colours and imagery used in other corporate marketing materials. This consistency will help potential customers quickly identify your brand and reinforce the image your company wants to project. (If you feel your brand needs to be updated, determine first if the journey is right for you.)

Keep it Simple

Using your display to explain everything about your company is tempting. We see it all the time. It may be interesting if it was a magazine article. But attendees don’t have the time, patience, or interest to read long-form content. Instead, try using short, clever messaging that appeals to your target audience while demonstrating your competitive advantage (this is where branding is so important.). Articulate your value proposition as clearly and concisely as possible. This will generate curiosity in your offering and will lead to a conversation.  

Remember: the main purpose of your display is to pique the interest of attendees walking by your space. Once your display has their attention, your staff can tell them your story, present your brand content and start the engagement process.

Get Noticed

Regarding display graphics, we believe that impact serves your best interests. You must consider a style that suits you and the events you’ll be attending. Take advantage of your display size by using bold images to enhance your company’s presence while remaining consistent with your brand's anatomy and core brand messaging. Make sure your company’s name is easily identifiable (and is also placed where people can see it as they walk down the aisles.) 


QR Codes Increase Stickiness

QR codes enhance the trade show experience and make the "static" dynamic. It drives people to your digital presence. We recommend creating a landing page specific to the event you are attending. It is a nice pathway into the clients' consciousness. You can apply your QR code on any material you create for the trade show: the brochures, your booth, and tent cards. Once you have them on your landing page, encourage them to register for a newsletter so that you can gather their email address. This initiates the digital relationship nurturing process. 

Design for Flexibility and Longevity

Display systems are often designed to work for only one single configuration. Consider one main display panel to grow your system around. This allows your display to work in smaller venues as well as those larger spaces by simply expanding on the main panel or adding individual free-standing panels. This will prove to be cost-effective.

It Doesn’t Have to be Complicated

Display systems have come a long way over the years. Today there are so many different system styles to choose from. The combination of advanced printing technologies and new lightweight materials has made attending a trade show so much easier. Long gone is the need for complex, heavy and backbreaking installations. Today even the most eye-catching display systems are quite manageable to transport and are easy to assemble. 

Be Prepared

So once that all-important attendee enters your “sell zone” - then what?

Staffing your booth with friendly, approachable, well-informed individuals is critical to a successful show. In fact, the performance of the staff in the booth can account for up to 85% of your show’s success, so give them the tools they’ll need.

Attendees will seek detailed information on your products and services relative to their industries. Ensure your marketing materials are up-to-date and plentiful. Consider offering materials that are not only informational but also memorable. A well-branded piece that stands out from the others at the end of the day will certainly get a second look. You never know whose desk it’ll end up on!

Trade shows are expensive and time-consuming, but they can pay off big time when done right! So, if you are considering participating in an upcoming trade show, remember that strategy and preparation will go a long way to making it successful. 

If you are ever in doubt, we can help.


Preparing for your next tradeshow?

Access our comprehensive preparation checklist to ensure you're fully prepared for your next trade show. Stay organized and on top of things with our detailed guide.


Perry Boeker

Principal & Marketing Strategist A results-driven creative thinker, Perry is a marketing management professional with a proven record of achievement in Strategic Planning, Team Leadership, and New Concepts Development.