How to Get the Most out of Trades Shows or Other Events

Trade shows and other events are an invaluable way to introduce new people to your products and build customer loyalty among those who are already familiar with your company. Attending them will help you gather direct insights on how you can improve your products, enhance your services, and build your brand.

Business conference
photo credit: Collision Conf / Flickr

3 Major Benefits of Attending a Trade Show

There is no formula for getting the most out of an event. While there are some general guidelines on what you should and shouldn’t do to get desirable results, each business is unique, as is the market sector it serves. For this reason, you will learn the most through trial and error.

If your business team is open to learning from its event marketing mistakes, you will get tremendous value from the face-to-face meetings you have with attendees. In fact, event marketing may become one of your favorite ways of building your brand.

If you did not do as well as you had hoped during your first few trade shows, here are 3 good reasons why you should keep the faith:

  1. You will get better and better at creating a positive, lasting impression with visitors to your booth. As you develop more experience, you will learn how to improve your contests and upgrade your giveaways. Your pre-event planning and post-event follow-ups will also improve.
  2. You will gather higher quality marketing intelligence through direct interactions with all type of prospects, customers, partners, and competitors compared to any type of data that social media interactions or focus groups can provide.
  3. You will consistently improve your lead generation methods, direct sales opportunities, networking skills, and advertising efficacy.
Business networking event participants
photo credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg / Flickr

3 Steps to getting the most out of your event participation

One way to get the most out of events is to break down your marketing into three phases: what you should do before, during, and after the event.

Before the Event

Set clear goals. What are your expectations? How many leads do you hope to generate? What strategies will you use to engage visitors who visit your booth? What demos will you give? What freebies will you offer? How will you capture names and follow up after the event? Develop effective ways to track your performance, and decide how you will measure your return on investment. After you’ve set goals, plan for the event based on everything you can find out about it ahead of time. There are numerous things you need to coordinate and details you need to cover to get the most value from your attendance. Then, after planning how you will organize your booth, you should do what you can to inform your target audience that you will be attending. Get the word out and invite people to visit your booth. Announce your participation through your social media channels, through press releases, and through emails to your newsletter subscribers.

During the Event

You will attract the attention of attendees by having a well-designed booth. One way to market your business at a trade show might be to get a bunch of t-shirts or hoodies from a bulk wholesale clothing company, put your business name on them and then give them away. Another idea that works well to draw the attention of attendees is to offer a contest with high-value prizes.

After the Event

First, import your leads into your marketing automation so that your sales team can follow up. Next, measure how things went based on your goals. Did you do better than expected, perform according to your forecasts, or fail to achieve satisfactory results? After evaluating your results, see what you can do better the next time. If you did well, then see how you can do even better. If you had some unexpected setbacks, see what lessons there are to be learned so that you can continue to improve your performance.

All things considered, event marketing offers an experience that no other form of marketing can provide because it’s all about direct, live contact with prospects and customers. By comparison, other forms of marketing are somewhat abstract, limited to evaluating the meaning of numerical data and a paltry amount of surveyed customer responses.

Osaka Kawaii at Japan Expo
photo credit: ActuaLitte / Flickr


In closing, besides getting better at how well you perform at events, you will also get better at selecting the best trade shows for your type and size of business. In the long run, you will keep on increasing your return on investment. If you do well in the beginning, then you will probably be encouraged to continue, but if you don’t do as well as you had hoped, then be patient and learn the lessons that you need to learn to begin to make winning trade show exhibits.