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Trade Show Marketing Done Right A smart event plan can help turn your investment into revenue

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Exhibiting at a trade show can be a major expense. How can you be sure you're getting the most for your trade show dollars? Take advantage of the many marketing opportunities available at a range of price points (from free and up!) so your company can stand out — and collect qualified business leads.

If you're planning to exhibit at a major event, consider some of the following initiatives when developing your marketing plan.
  • Exhibitor Guide: The show management will typically provide exhibitors with a guide or manual detailing opportunities, deadlines, and costs for every aspect of the event — many are free to exhibitors. Topics to investigate in the marketing section include:

    • Company & Product Listings

    • Awards Submissions

    • Sponsorship Opportunities

    • Show Daily Editorial Contacts

    • Press Conferences

    • Pre-Registered Press List

  • Media Buzz: Trade shows are a great opportunity to get the attention of the media walking the show floor. Make sure you have something tangible to announce, then start to build momentum going into the show. Obtain the pre-registered press list, and use it to schedule meetings on-site. You should also mine the list for appropriate contacts to add to your proprietary database for ongoing media relations.

  • Press Kit: Many events have a dedicated press area where exhibitors can display their kits of collateral and media-ready documents such as a corporate overview, executive bios, press releases, case studies, and more. Stop by the press room periodically during the event to be sure there are plenty of kits in supply — and keep a handful at your booth for unplanned media visits.

  • Collateral System: To impress attendees, make sure your corporate messaging and branding is consistent — carried over from your press kit to the sell sheets, product brochures, signage, and other marketing collateral you make available at your booth.

  • Speaking Opportunities: Investigate opportunities to participate in event-hosted panels or keynote speeches on relevant industry topics. Keep in mind this process can start as early as one year prior to the event, so get in early!

  • Prizes & Giveaways: Depending on the type of event, these can be great promotions to draw traffic to your booth and engage your audience. Be sure that all giveaways are branded with your corporate identity.

  • Industry Events: Participate in off-site industry networking events, or host your own. Explore if the venue will allow you to host a breakfast or cocktail hour on the show floor — you would be amazed at how the smell of bacon can draw a crowd to your booth in the morning!
One last thing to consider is whether or not you need to exhibit in the first place. In some cases, you can purchase the registered attendee and media lists for an event, and do some outreach of your own to schedule meetings and appointments. If you get enough interest, book a hospitality suite at the event, which may be less expensive than a booth...or get a suite at the nearest hotel, and stock it with sodas, sandwiches, and snacks.

No matter what path you choose, the key to a great show is capturing the attention and contact information from attendees, fellow exhibitors, and the press. Once you've done that...USE IT! Send thank you letters or emails, add contacts to your email newsletter distribution list, or include them in your next direct mail campaign. Do all you can to maintain that "mindshare" for your company, and make your trade show investment pay off long after you break down the booth.

Kevin McLaughlin is the prinicipal and co-founder of Resound Marketing, an integrated marketing and PR agency focused on helping clients "make some noise ." To market your next trade show or event, or for more information about Resound's services, contact or visit
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 brochures  outreach  expenses  press kit  industry  management  investments  press releases  momentum

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