How To Maximize ROI: Best Trade Show Marketing Tips

Trade Shows allow you to get your brand or offerings in front of thousands of potential customers. But other small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) or behemoth brands also flock to these events to steal the show. So, how can you cut through the noise and boost your trade show ROI? Read on to unearth the answer. 

Why Does ROI Matter?

You want to know if you’re getting your dollars’ worth. This knowledge will help you strengthen your future financial success. 

Return on Investment (ROI) is among the Key Performance Indicators that take the guesswork out of your business decisions. It determines your expenditure’s profitability by measuring outcomes over time.

ROI calculations help you understand your performance and the areas that could use some improvement to help you hit your goals.

How Can You Improve ROI for Trade Shows?

Here are our sure-fire tips:

1. Choose an Event That Clicks With Your Objectives and Audience

This one is big. Put up a booth in a trade show that isn’t right for your business, and your ROI will plummet. So, how do you pick the right event? Do your homework like a pro: 

Define your objectives

What do you intend to achieve from the event? It could be cementing relationships with customers, bolstering brand awareness, boosting sales, or launching a new product.


List all the popular and unpopular events. Then consider your target audience and narrow the list down to the events that fit your business. 

Next, dig deeper for more information about each event- demographics, show statistics, and previous year’s list of participants. Attend the show physically before exhibiting to get a real feel. 

Don’t forget to research the events your competitors have attended. Also, how well was each event publicized? 

Establish budget

After narrowing down to events that promise stellar results, consider the following expenses:

  • Registration fee
  • Promotional materials
  • Event services
  • Exhibition display
  • Travel
  • Renting exhibit space

2. Staff the Trade Show with the Right People

Your people on the floor will be your brand’s direct voice and face. Eventually, they’re the people who can win over (or lose) leads and sales. So don’t mess here. 

Have the right people

While you can pick your front customers in your company, be sure they’re charismatic, knowledgeable, experienced, and reliable. Don’t have enough employees with such qualities? Hiring a reputable event staffing agency can help you fill the gaps. 

Ensure the team shines

First impressions are everything. Apart from creating a visually appealing booth, ensure your crew presents themselves appropriately. They should tick all the boxes in everything from their clothing to appearance to etiquette. 

Specify roles appropriately

Be sure to understand everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and assign them suitable roles. Some may excel in lead generation, while others may perform excellently in other functions like social media and onboarding clients. 

Knowledge is power

Equip your trade show team with knowledge related to your offerings and brand. Every member should be well-versed with everything from your business to your expectations and KPIs. Be sure they can confidently answer all common questions hurled at them.

3. Stand Out From the Pack

You want more people to talk about your business long after the Trade Show’s conclusion. But thanks to the gimmicky and flashy competitors, people can easily overlook any new kid on the block. Don’t fret. Inject creativity to beat them hands-down.

Gift people something unusual

Don’t copy the big dogs and dish out unoriginal items like corporate mugs and pens. Rather, gift people something quirkier that still has your company’s brand. The options are endless-corporate headphones, Rubik’s cubes, socks, laptop covers, and sunglasses.

Use humor to create buzz

Be the life of the party and throw the dull “keep it positive” marketing messages out of the window—Usher in something humorous that will spark conversation with attendees going past your booth. Throw in creative stunts (like a zoo’s penguin) and fun-filled activities (like prize wheel). The attendees will surely pass the fun along through word of mouth.

What Are You Up Against?

Research the big dogs and know what they’re bringing beyond staffing. Are they bringing some candy, contests, or collection boxes to win customers? You don’t want to be caught off-guard.

Invest in an enticing display

A trade show isn’t a place for sad-looking furniture or display. A chunk of your marketing budget should cater for an exhibition that makes your brand look more invested and investable. From seating to display to lighting, ensure your space’s design is appealing and consistent with your brand’s image. Preserve your excellent prints and assets for future shows to cut down on costs and “bring back the pleasant memory.”

4. Involve Pre-show Social Media Strategy

Leverage the power of social media to offset the often costly investment. A rock-solid pre-show social media strategy will also earn you extra awareness and boost your foot traffic, engagement, and lead generation. 

Weave in clear trade show goals

This one is crucial. Are you looking to increase foot traffic, qualified meetings, or qualified leads? How can social media help you achieve the specific metrics? 

Choose Suitable Social Platforms

Where does your target audience hang out most of their time? What are your goals? These questions will help you select the most suitable platform.

  • Twitter: Suitable for posting quick comments, live photos, reminders, and other bite-sized information pieces related to the event
  • LinkedIn: Join related groups in this professional network and connect with the attendees. That way, you’ll warm up cold relationships. The platform is also great for following up with attendees after the event.
  • Facebook: Excellent for longer and more in-depth posts, multiple photos, live events, and event recaps.
  • Instagram: Bring your visuals online- think about your booth’s images, short videos, live demos, and other interesting sights. Throw in event hashtags, location tagging to attract more attendees scrolling through their feed.
  • Designate a leader

Too many cooks in the social media kitchen can quickly spoil the soup. Have a manager ensure the right messages are posted in the branded channels at the right time to avoid confusion. 

5. Follow the event’s hashtags

Monitor the trending information and follow the trade show’s hashtags. Don’t forget to get the crucial internal and external information- speaking slots, dates, booth numbers, location, attendees. 


Generate excitement in advance by promoting your event 2-3 weeks earlier.

Source Relevant Content

Content is King. A trade show is another opportunity to show your thought-leadership, so arm yourself with a content plan for your social media game. Dig deeper for engaging and relevant third-party content. Design and test branded content. 

Follow Up

Follow-up is crucial. But just because an attendee showed up at your booth doesn’t mean they’re the right fit for your brand. So don’t start invading their inboxes with whatever your existing email subscribers are already consuming. Instead:

Invite them to your subscriber’s list

Personalize the message and explain how you got their information.

It’s the event that connected you two. So your blogs and articles should be related to it. Send them an interview you did with an industry guru. Show them that you have what they were looking for in the event, and they’ll gradually get hooked.

Nurture first

Don’t hard-sell them first! Instead, craft a lead-nurturing campaign to draw prospects through your funnels. 

Make personal connections

Your sales crew comes in handy here. Encourage them to link up with the prospects they spoke with personally- through LinkedIn, Email. People create relationships with people, not companies.

Engage them continuously

Sure, not all attendees will become leads and actual customers immediately. Some aren’t even your fit. But keep the fire of engagement burning. They may refer your brand to a friend, share your content, or even become a customer much later. 

6. Don’t Let the Exhibit Hall Limit You

Don’t stay stuck inside the hall trying to outcompete others. How about catching attendees before they enter the convention center? Entice them to visit your booth first before the inside clutter and noise carry them away. How can you do that? A contest, an exclusive offer, and an upgraded swag item are just a few of the endless options. 

Collecting Data During the Show

Data is power in the current world. So don’t handle data collection haphazardly. To gather meaningful data, know your goals, the kind of data you desire, and how you’ll segment it. Here are some effective data collection methods:

1. Integration

Use an event organizing platform that offers easy-to-use registrations and data security. You can integrate it with your CRM tools like Salesforce for easier follow-up.

2. Check-in

Potential clients can check-in at your booths using RFID-equipped badges and mobile apps. That way, you get to know the number of visitors and engage them through gamification and surveys.

3. Polling

Throw the questionnaires and clipboards out of the window. Use engaging digital surveys and forms to boost the completion rate at significantly low costs. 

What Should You Evaluate?

You can empirically test your event’s success. The top 3 best measures to evaluate include:

1. Qualified Leads

If you play your cards well, many people will turn into leads and actual customers down the line. You can rank the client based on completed projects per year and their decision-making power in their firm. 

2. Online Activity

If the investment was successful, you should see a spike in website and social media traffic during and after the show. Be sure to see additional:

  • Shares
  • Likes
  • Followers
  • Blog subscribers
  • General comments

3. Customer Relationship Management

Besides helping you net in new customers, trade shows can cement your relationship with current customers. So have a strategy to measure your customer relationship’s strength after the show:

  • Ask them how they feel 
  • Gauge their feedback on social platforms
  • Use CRM software to track customer behaviors.

Wrap Up

When you spend your marketing budget on trade show booths and trade show marketing, you have to ensure that you are getting enough business leads to make it worth the investment. We believe the above tried and proven tactics will set you on the right road to success. Feel free to contact us today for more information, and we’ll be more than willing to assist!

About the author Steve Coffey

I am passionate about the building materials industry helping companies all throughout the channel see success and exceed the expectations of their audiences

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