How to Structure a Trade Show Marketing Strategy

Article about How to Structure a Trade Show Marketing Strategy

Published by

Daniela Sevilla activities: Business Development
on the timeline of USA CBD Expo

Aug 9, 2021

Article originally from: 

Trade Shows are one of the most effective ways vendors have to reach their buyers or potential partners. Having a solid marketing strategy is critical.

Online marketing has taken the world by storm. Especially after the Covid-19 Pandemic, which proved that many of the things that were done face to face could be done through a computer with good wifi.

However, offline alternatives also have excellent marketing potential; for instance, trade show marketing.

Having your company, product, or service displayed at industry events is a golden opportunity. These events provide vendors a chance to improve sales and build valuable relationships. It will make an impact on your bottom line.

Trade show revenue in the US reached 16.4 billion in 2020. Trade shows are the second B2B source of income in the US. The data speaks for its own.

That’s why having a great marketing strategy is key to getting a slice of the trade show market in the US today. It doesn’t matter which industry you’re a part of; anyone can benefit from trade shows.

Here are some tips for building that strategy.

Have Clear Goals and Analyze the Information

Like any marketing campaign, there has to be a strategy built around a set of goals. This will help to measure the real success of your tradeshow experience and attendance. Have a clear vision of what you want to achieve with your trade show and make sure everyone on your staff is on board.

The one common goal for any trade show marketing campaign is direct sales. But, there are other potential objectives like brand awareness or site traffic boosting.

Think beyond the obvious and try to have goals that are: measurable, specific, attainable, and result-oriented.

For example, don’t set an abstract goal to make sales; create a plan to sell 25 of your products and make at least two essential connections.

The latter will guide every decision that you make throughout the event marketing process. It would help if you gave trade show attendees a reason to interact with your brand. Stand out to reach the full potential of your network.

If you have been to trade shows before, use information gathered from past shows. Analyze sales leads, conversions, and costs to truly understand which medium of marketing was the most effective for you. Also, do an internal analysis of the trade show layout or floor plan to decide which areas contain the highest possibility for B2B networking of your interest. 

Budget Properly

Budgeting properly is crucial to success. There are plenty of things you’ll have to prepare for, economically. You should have some of the following in mind:

Cost/Benefit In-Depth Analysis

Before launching or preparing anything:

  1. Elaborate a cost-benefit analysis of the trade show, include everything you have paid for and everything you will pay for. This will evidence any significant gaps within your plan and let you distribute your resources.
  2. Consider the goal, budget, proposed theme, logistics, cost of putting up the booth and compare with your competitor’s resources. 

Find the Right Trade Show for You

After setting your goals, take time to investigate and find suitable trade show events that you could be a part of. Currently, there are two types of trade shows: Trade Shows for your industry and trade shows for your ideal audience.

USA CBD Expo, for example, is an industry-focused event where top sellers within the cannabis, hemp, and alternative products industry come together under one roof.

An easy way to find trade shows for your industry is to go to Google and search for Trade Show News Network. Another sure shot way is to take a look at your competitor’s coverage and see in which events they’re participating in. You can always sign yourself up for those events as well.

Audience Research

Understand your target audience since this is crucial for the development of your trade show marketing plan. Conduct in-depth research into the key demographics, personalities, characteristics, and lifestyles of your target market.


Don’t let go of any chance to advertise your participation in the trade show you will be a part of. Advertise it through your social media, use AdWords to target specific conference-related search queries, or even place an Ad in a recognized industry publication. Let everyone around you know about the event and try to make connections beforehand.

Always Have in Mind New Releases

Many trade show attendees visit these events to see new products being featured.

You can use this to your advantage by taking the opportunity to showcase new products you have in your brand. To do this successfully, look at your marketing calendar and plan to exhibit at trade shows that happen together with, or just after your scheduled product releases. By doing that, you will have many excited attendees who want early access to your new product.

Do not Improvise

Even if you’re going to your first trade show, or whether it is your 20th, always prepare. Make a list and stick to it.

Preparing for a trade show doesn’t take years, just good organization. Pick the right team and make sure everything is perfect: Booths (everything related to it like electrics and banners), Leaflets, Goodie bags, Business cards, and display boards, to mention some things.

Remember; your booth is everything. You need to make your booth stand out if you want to have outstanding results from your trade show investment. Don’t be afraid to have an eye-catching booth, and make sure your products are first and upfront. 

Remember that major trade shows feature anything: performances by famous musicians, innovative multimedia exhibits from the largest corporations in the world, and all of the energy and excitement of a Hollywood movie premiere. Everything to catch attendees’ attention, so make sure you engage them as well with an unforgettable display. 

Be Warm

During the event, you will be your brand’s face, so be warm, engage customers with a smile, be constantly uplifting and approachable, talking with them instead of pitching to them.

This last approach will help you meet people who will let you follow up with them in the future. If you meet a prospect at a trade show, for example, and he asks you to email him for an appointment, that is a warm relationship. The stronger the connection between you and the prospect, the more likely a sale will take place.

Follow Up

After a great show, you have to follow up. Don’t let the people you meet at trade shows forget about you.

Maybe some attendees didn’t buy something from you on the spot, but some may make a big purchase from you afterward, especially if they get a call from you reminding them who you are.

More than 80 percent of leads collected at tradeshows receive a follow-up after the event, so do not be afraid to call.

But, before calling them to sell your product, audit your leads to understand your target demographics, and sit with your team to develop customized, multi-touch content to string them along in a sale.

For example, if you meet someone at a trade show, send them an email with something free to download related to your brand. After some time, send them a coupon and, finally, follow up with a hard sell phone call.

Finally, always follow the people you meet on social media. You can contact prospects on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media with just their name. Building your online network is as important as establishing your physical one. Social media allows you to blast out messages to your entire network or get in touch with certain individuals that you didn’t have enough time to converse with at the show.

Measure Your Goals and Check Your Conversions

The goals you set at the beginning of the show should be measurable. That’s why they must have specific indicators. 

That way, once the trade show is over, you can sit down with your team and see if you met every indicator and how. For example, if you wanted to sell 25 of a certain one of your products and you sold 12, then you achieved almost 50% of your goal.

Once you have the numbers, you should translate them into a report that can be your starting point for the next trade show where you can set more significant or more attainable goals. Zoom out your perspective and look at a month, six months, even a year after the event; did you end up with the number of prospects you wanted? What were the costs associated with participating in the event? Make a balance of how positively it impacted your brand. 

After having your strategy in place, review it before and after the show, and if something didn’t work, change it. That way, you can work towards a strategy that suits you and your brand.

By Juanita Rico, August 6th 2021

Articles authored by Daniela Sevilla