Pre-Show Marketing for trade show events

August 29, 2023

Recently we sent out an email blast through a trade publication to market our exhibit services. The numbers were there: 50,000 of our target market of marketers. But of the 50,000 emails that went out, we received two hits, and one appears to be going nowhere. Now, we did our homework and due diligence. We created an ad that provided several solutions, and we added a call to action so that a person could get information or simply download a catalog for free.  So WHY did we not attract the number of leads we wanted?

Personally, I think the answer is in the media you use to get leads, and that media depends on the type of target market you are trying to reach. Since we sell to clients that participate in trade shows, emails might not be the best way to attract their attention. By definition, they are wearing multiple marketing hats in an organization and are running from show to show – or planning for the next one. They are busy people and trying to get their attention is difficult. So, what do you do?

First of all, I have to pick myself up, brush off any bad vibes and move on. It is all about strategic marketing – and sticking to it. Right now, I am going to focus my efforts on inbound marketing, which is defined below by Hubspot as follows:



First you need to get the attention of your target audience. That means using the right content. You need to understand who your potential customers are to create compelling content. One proven approach is to create customer buyer personas, so you know who wants your product, what their interests are, and where to find them. Once you know what appeals to your audience, you can attract them with compelling content. Blogging and offering information that attracts the right visitor is a great way to launch an inbound marketing campaign. Use blog content to feed social media channels, which are the best ways to find prospects. Also make sure you are using keywords and that your web pages are optimized for search so that you can be found by potential customers. The objective is to use inbound marketing to turn Web strangers into visitors, and ultimately followers.


Once you have attracted interested visitors, you need to convert them into leads using a call to action. Typically, you use landing pages to get visitors to surrender personal information, such as an email address and telephone number, in exchange for something they want, such as a white paper or webinar. The best conversion tools are unique and informative; if the offer isn’t attractive enough (i.e. valuable), then you won’t convert the visitor to a lead.


Closing a converted lead can be a long, delicate process. It typically takes from 7 and 13 touches to convert a lead to a sale. Start by ranking your leads using lead scoring or some other approach. Once you prioritize your leads, you can bring them through the sales process using a series of emails. You also want to keep track of which conversion tools work best for you. Closed-loop reporting using marketing automation tools lets you follow the lead from capture to close so you can refine your marketing program based on what works.


The inbound marketing program shouldn’t end once you have made the sale. You now need to nurture the customer; reassuring them they made the right decision when they wrote you a check. Continue to offer superior content. Use social media channels and email and continue to engage with customers, offering content that interests them. Delighting the customer is the best way to upsell them, keep them coming back for more, and most importantly, convert them into evangelists who will spread word about your company and its products.

As a smart marketer, you want to use quality content for your inbound marketing program to stay relevant. With proper nurturing, you will stay relevant so that your prospects will become customers because they come to know you, your brand, and your products, and they trust you. Promoting that trust is what makes inbound marketing so powerful. We are currently using Hubspot for our inbound marketing efforts and I have to say that those results are looking awesome.

So, I have to believe that, since I did the due diligence on understanding my target market, just because I emailed them ONCE does not mean they will come knocking. But if I continue to reach out to them a few times – they will come!!


  1. Create a powerful message that appeals to your ideal clients.

So, what exactly is that? Basically, it’s the solution you provide presented from your ideal client’s viewpoint. In addition to attracting your ideal clients to you, you want to start positioning yourself as an expert in that field.

  1. Be consistent with your message.

Once you know what your message is (and you’ve tested it, so you know it attracts your ideal clients) now you need to get it out into the world. You need to repeat it and repeat it consistently.

  1. Be frequent with your message.

You’re going to feel like a broken record, but the best marketers are the ones who have a simple, powerful message, are consistent with that message, and repeat it over and over again. But don’t just repeat it in the same places. Find different media that your target market uses.

Source: Hubspot Marketing (

So, whether you are sending out an email blast or participating in a trade show event, the same principle applies. Have a strong message, be consistent with that message, and stay in front of the potential client as much as you can and continually!

It is back to the drawing board for me – strong message and continual! Make sure to apply these tactics to your trade show marketing program as well.

New call-to-action



Download one of our Resource Guide Catalogs!

Our custom, modular, portable, and rental exhibits catalogs are a great resource for trade show information as well as exhibit designs.

Download A Catalog

We promise that we won't SPAM you.