Five ways to getting the most out of your next trade show

For many industries, trade shows are still the most effective way to attract new business. In the span of a couple days, potentially thousands of people can learn about your products and services, hundreds of face to face meetings can take place, and a solid list of prospects can be generated. But in spite of all these opportunities, many businesses are still not reaching the potential that trade shows offer. So here are five tips to getting the most out of your next trade show.

  • Pre-show campaign. Reaching out to your existing list of current and potentials customers is the best way to create buzz and give them a reason to seek out your booth. Let them know of the release of a new product, a contest that requires them to visit your booth, or a special gift they can pick up.
  • Be ready for action. For many companies, trade shows can make or break their sales projections for the year. So bring your best sales team, and make sure they’re trained to answer any questions. Perhaps even bring your tech people if you think they can help. And most importantly, have your people standing and greeting everyone. No texting or phone calls should ever take place while they’re working the booth.
  • Send them home with more than flyers. While giving out product information is important, sending visitors home with something extra can make you more memorable. Depending on your industry and the number of people expected to visit your booth, you may want to give out something small to everyone, and/or hold back some bigger gifts for “special” visitors. What’s important is that you give out something that is relevant to your industry, practical, novel and of course imprinted with your logo and website. For example, a technology company might give out USB keys or power banks. A food manufacturer might give out reusable lunch bags or oven mitts.
  • Show specials. Regardless of whether you sell a product or service, creating an incentive for attendees to place orders can help you get the most of your trade show. Special pricing, product bundling, and exclusive access to new products are just some of the strategies that can be used to generate sales from the trade show floor.
  • Detailed data collection. Forget asking attendees to toss their business cards in a fish bowl. Data collection is crucial to being able to follow up after the show. A number of apps exist that allow you to easily and efficiently capture attendee contact details, plus additional information such as what product they are interested in, their requirements, and how best to contact them. Want to go low tech? Collect business cards personally and make a note on the back to remind you how to follow up. Doing so in front of the attendee will demonstrate your interest in working with them.

Marc Gordon is a recognized marketing expert. He regularly appears on TV and radio. His articles appear in over 200 publications worldwide. Visit or his online show at for more business tips.