Tradeshows are events centered around particular industries at which companies can demonstrate, or otherwise exhibit, their products or services to generate new leads, network with attendees, and assess their competition firsthand. A cornerstone of event marketing strategies, trade shows provide brands the opportunity to pitch their products or services in-person with the hopes of leaving a lasting impression through direct contact.

Tradeshows are often held in large event centers or halls. When brand representatives are manning their respective booths, they may participate in a variety of activities to both engage visitors and encourage passersby to stop in. These include hosting giveaways, giving booth tours, or making presentations. When they’re off-duty at their booths, brand representatives can arrange formal meetings with partners or prospects, or participate in less formal gatherings like team building exercises or happy hours. In addition, many tradeshows feature guest speakers or opportunities for continued education. The goal of these speaking opportunities is to leave a positive brand experience as a helpful thought leader in your industry. In other words, leave the sales pitch for the exhibit floor.

Companies that participate in tradeshows often rely on their marketing teams to produce and organize various types of content enabling sales and pushing leads through the funnel. Examples include the following:


  • In-depth brochures on products and services for interested prospects
  • Short, high-level flyers or brochures
  • Posters
  • Table banners
  • Surveys to solicit feedback from attendees as an element of market research

While tradeshow marketing is an effective way to generate leads and conduct market research, it can also be a costly and time-consuming endeavor. It’s important to make sure you upload all your tradeshow leads into your marketing database of record for further lead nurturing. Statistically, only 25 percent of the leads you capture at a tradeshow will buy from your company in year one while 75 percent will potentially buy from your company in years two or three. This makes lead nurturing mandatory or risk wasting 75 percent of your marketing budget for tradeshow activities.

Tips: Negotiate with the tradeshow producer for extra tickets to go along with your sponsorship. Be prepared to explain why you need those extra passes and show the event producer your marketing plan (create a plan if you don’t have one). 9 times out of 10 event producers will give you these extra passes if they believe you are going to help market the event. Their goal is very similar to yours; get as many people to the event as possible. Next, meet with your sales team to discuss who you should give these extra passes to i.e. ideal prospects in the area, key targeted accounts and then exiting customers. Look for ideal companies near the location of the tradeshow and coordinate with inside and field sales on how to invite these prospects to the event. Don’t just toss some marketing budget over to the event organizer then show up to the tradeshow and expect great things. Put a plan together on how you will capitalize on your tradeshow investment.

If you need some, one on one advice, please feel free to contact Shawn Elledge, founder of the Integrated Marketing Summit and Association.

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