The Beginner’s Guide to Trade Show Marketing

February 08, 2024

Trade shows serve as a powerful platform that brings together businesses from the same industry, attracting hundreds, and sometimes even thousands, of attendees each year. Participating in a trade show as an exhibitor can provide a significant boost to your business, offering the potential to generate substantial revenue and forge valuable connections. In this blog post, we will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of trade shows and guide you on how to effectively position your business at these events.

What is trade show marketing?

Trade show marketing involves showcasing and promoting your products and services at one of these large-scale, industry-specific events. Because trade shows aim to help businesses boost brand awareness, you’ll gain a ton of exposure and a whole new audience by attending one as an exhibitor. You’ll also get to meet other professionals in your field as well as new customers, learn what your competitors are up to, and gain insight into the broader trends, products, and services shaping your industry.

Say you run a business that manufactures plastic parts, and you’re interested in attending your industry’s annual trade show as an exhibitor. To make the most of trade show marketing, you would set up a booth at the event that showcases your company’s accomplishments, developments, and new products. You can man the booth yourself with the help of a few of your employees, drawing in trade show attendees interested in what you’re promoting.10x20 rental booth

This increased level of exposure is what makes trade show marketing so important. You have a great opportunity to talk to people who are genuinely interested in your business operation, the products you make, and what you have to offer. It’s also a great place to connect and build a network of contacts within your industry.

Why should you go to trade shows?

As a business owner, you might be wondering whether exhibiting your products and services at a trade show is worth your time and money. On the surface, it might seem like a costly distraction that would pull you away from your business for a few days.

A successful trip to a trade show may actually do more for your business than you imagine. 

Be seen by your audience

A big part of brand awareness involves being seen. When people hear your name, see your face, and learn about your company, odds are they’ll remember you. You want to present yourself as a viable option for a certain solution. When a customer runs into a problem in the future, your name should be the first one to pop up.

This works equally well for people who are already customers. By seeing you at a trade show, you’re reinforcing your role as their go-to company. All of this face-to-face interaction can work wonders for your business.

Hear what your customers are saying

While a majority of trade show attendees work in your industry, customers interested in your products and services typically attend, too. Through conversations with potential customers, you’ll get feedback on your product or service and gain insight into what customers are thinking, what they’re happy with, and what changes they’d like to see.

Say you set up a booth to promote your kitty litter business at the annual Kitty Cat trade show. While you’re there, several cat owners may stop by your booth to learn more about your kitty litter products. New customers looking to switch brands may tell you what was wrong with the kitty litter they had been using and ask why your product would be a better choice. Existing customers might tell you why they love — or hate — your product and offer suggestions on how you can improve it.

See what the “other guys” are doing

Trade shows are like a spy mission without any backlash, giving you the ultimate access to your competitors. If you walk around the trade show floor and visit each booth, you’ll learn more about the products or services they’re all offering. This will help you determine whether you’re on par with your rivals or whether it’s time to up your game.

If every exhibitor at the annual baking trade show is offering free cookies or cupcakes at their booths, then you should consider doing the same next time. You might also consider including other merch, like stickers, with your bakery’s name and a catchy slogan on it.

Aside from scoping out the competition, you might also find a viable business partner in a rival, especially if your business model complements theirs.

Meet helpful vendors

Vendors attend trade shows looking to sell their products or services to other businesses. If you’re manning your booth at the annual plastics-industry trade show, for example, a vendor might walk up to you and pitch a new software program his company developed that might help you improve the number of units you produce daily.

It’s much easier to meet and connect with vendors at a trade show than by running a Google search. 

Connect with the right people 

At a trade show, you’ll meet vendors, loyal customers as well as potential ones, and competitors. All of these connections could make a huge difference in your business.

You won’t have to devote company time to finding the right people. The right people are all gathered at the trade show, eager to connect, share their insights, and showcase their abilities. People will have their guards down, giving you a better chance of being heard and making a connection.

Generate leads

Remember: everyone on the trade show floor is a potential lead. As long as you know the right way to get leads at a trade show, you’ll have a lot of success. People want to connect, find the right companies for their needs, and grow their businesses. If you fit into their plan, people will gravitate toward you.

In conclusion, trade show marketing can provide a significant boost to your business by increasing brand awareness, fostering valuable connections, and gaining insights into industry trends and competitors. By exhibiting your products and services at trade shows, you have the opportunity to be seen by your target audience, hear valuable feedback from customers, learn from your competitors, meet helpful vendors, and connect with the right people. Additionally, trade shows offer a great platform for generating leads and expanding your business. So, if you want to position your business for success and take advantage of the benefits that trade shows offer, it's time to consider participating in one. Don't miss out on this opportunity to showcase your company, make valuable connections, and drive growth.

Guest Blogger:  Connor Benedict - Constant Contact -

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