Attending trade shows and business conferences can be a great way to market and advertise your business, but can also carry a considerable financial overhead in doing so. If your business is going to invest in an event this way, then it is essential that your exhibition planning generates the best possible results from your marketing investment.

Here are some tips for effective marketing groundwork you can do prior to the actual event to ensure maximum success at your conference:

Identify your audience

Vitally important part of your trade show advertising – who are you trying to appeal to or attract?

There are generally two different groups – your existing clients and contacts, and those registered to attend the event you’re showing at. For the first group you need to look at your current clients, any e-mail subscribers to your business and any prospects you have gathered information on from other sources. You should inform all your known contacts of your attendance at the upcoming event – they won’t all be going, but it is good business practice to notify and include them.

The second group are all those attendees who have registered for the event – the show organisers should have furnished you with this list – if they haven’t, then contact the organisers directly and ask for it!

Create your trade show marketing campaign

You should have an established plan for the event. Your campaign development should include the following:

Set the right goals

Establish aims and goals for the event – what do you want to achieve in terms of sales, new contacts, generated interest and so on. Having a set of goals for your stand, will determine how you will measure the success of the event against those targets.

Establish a theme

Trade show stands can be somewhat dull and repetitive, so creating an exhibition stand design that stands out with a definitive theme will prove an advantage. Your theme should be relevant to the message you are trying to convey and in keeping with your corporate branding, image and any other marketing materials and literature you may have.

Special promotions

Special promotions are useful tools to drive traffic at a trade show – if you’re launching a new product, you could be raffling one, or more, of them off at the show. A promotion provides an incentive for attendees to engage and interact with your stand and staff – is an effective way to collect contact details and will make your booth more memorable to those that participated.

Implement multi-touch point marketing

It should always be an aim to establish at least three points of contact with prospects prior to the show. Here are some suggestions:

Mass media

Use your own social media sites and take advantage of any hashtags being used by the conference itself.


Traditional mail campaigns still have an effect – individual postcards or invitations add that personal touch and encourage engagement.


Great for last minute reminders of the event to existing clients and prospects.

Sales team

Any existing sales and marketing team you have will have regular contact with your clients – use them to personally promote the event.

Set up appointments / meetings at the show

Use any responses you’ve had from your invitations prior to the event to set up formal appointments with clients and prospects. This effectively gives you a head start for the event and guarantees attendees to your booth – and a booth that appears busy will automatically encourage others to investigate what is generating such interest.

Create a promotion schedule

Establish timings for the marketing releases leading up to the event, allowing you workable timescales and gaps between initial information and invitation to your clients, and a final ‘follow-up’ reminder just prior to the event.

Putting time and effort into pre trade show marketing will result in greater numbers and higher quality engagement with your stand at the event and make the most of your marketing budget and resources.


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