With tightened budgets, companies have to prove a strong ROI in order to make trade shows worthwhile. Developing a strong trade show presence doesn’t just mean success during the show. Companies that find trade shows beneficial recognize the importance of preparation leading up to the event as well as prompt follow through with leads. Follow this basic timeline to gain leads and excite current clients through trade shows.
Pre-Show (3-months in advance):

  • Set goals: Clearly stated expectations drive your technique and help measure ROI. Goals can vary from making a sale on the floor to asking questions and learning more about your perceived market position.
  • Pick your booth: Location is key to trade show success. High traffic areas are by the entrance, near restrooms, in the center of the room, and on isles.
  • Choose your dream team: You will need at least three people to properly manage the booth, re-stock, and take breaks. Don’t just pull from the sales force. Trade shows give you the opportunity to demonstrate what your product/service can do and often the developers, engineers, and installers can showcase that better than anyone!
  • Schedule a vendor presentation: Even if only a couple of people show up to your presentation you will have the opportunity to talk in depth about your offering for at least half an hour longer than your 60-second pitch at the booth.

Pre-Show (1-month in advance):

  • Send out postcard mailers: Have an exclusive offering at your booth that individuals receive if they present their postcard. This will not only drive traffic to your booth, but also provide you with the contact information of your leads.
  • Prepare your team: With all the preparation that goes into a trade show make sure you don’t forget the details. Here is a do’s and don’ts checklist to ensure your team is professional and prepared.

During the Show:

  • Hold conversations: Don’t get caught up in your pitch and forget to learn about the customers. Use this opportunity to build relationships and gain new perspectives.
  • Stand-up and engage: Never ever sit down or talk on your cell phone. Rather than being distracted by fellow employees or phone calls, engage as many individuals as possible when they walk by and don’t be afraid to wander into the isles to do it.
  • Demonstrate: Be able to conduct a demo. It will catch people’s attention and draw crowds, which in turn will catch even more people’s attention.
  • Take notes: Focus on collecting business cards rather than passing out brochures. Then write notes on the cards to keep track of questions, concerns, and needs for follow-up purposes. You can send out your literature to interested individuals later through their contact information.


  • Follow-up quickly: 80% of trade show leads never receive a follow up! Prompt follow-ups will keep your company fresh in your prospects’ minds. Add them to LinkedIn and/or your email list immediately then send a personal email with additional literature.
  • Apply what you learned: After asking all those questions you should have gained insights into customer expectations, so apply your new found knowledge by sharing the results with your co-workers and management.

For more than 15 years, Creative Spot has helped clients in a variety of industries develop trade show strategies that generate results.  Our services include booth consultation, pre and post-show marketing, event public relations, booth design and execution, video and multimedia presentations and event logistics.  If you would like more information or a consultation, please contact me at donn@creativespot.com