Create a Lasting Impression at your next Trade Show or Business Expo

Don’t Throw Away Your Shot!

You want to have a successful trade show or business expo. After all, countless articles stress the importance of maximizing tradeshow and business expo opportunities. A big part of having a successful trade show includes turning good impressions into sales. Of course you want to make a great impression at the trade show, but you also want that impression to be lasting! So, what is the key to trade show success? How can you make potential clients not only like what they see at your booth, but also remember your product or brand following the event?

Have a successful trade show or business expo in 2018!

Don’t worry! We’ve put together some tips to set your business up for lasting success.

The importance of trade show success

First, why are trade shows so important in the first place? Reasons include brand exposure, lead capture, supply line relationships, networking, promoting your company, and gathering business leads.

  • Brand exposure
  • Lead capture
  • Supply line relationships
  • Networking
  • Promoting your company
  • Gathering business leads
  • Growing your customer base

Brand exposure – The more people are exposed to your brand, the more apt they are to remember it.

Lead capture – The process of providing information about your products and services with potential customers to effectively lead to sales.

Supply line relationships – Building a close relationship with your suppliers is more important than you might think. Bullying companies into low prices doesn’t accomplish this. A close relationship tends to increase product quality.

Networking – Even if it pulls you out of your comfort zone, strike up a conversation with those around you. Ask them about their business. A successful business – and trade show success – is all about genuine relationships.

Promoting your company – Trade show success involves getting the word out – about you!

Gathering business leads – Try to find fun ways to encourage visitors to your booth to leave their business cards.

Growing your customer base – With trade shows, you can see a lot of potential clients in a short amount of time. It’s kind of like speed dating for businesses! These prospective clients are also a more targeted demographic because they elected to attend the trade show, making potential leads or sales more likely.

They say showing up is half the battle. However, that still leaves the other 50% you have to undertake to be successful! A booth at an expo is great, but you need to put in the work to maximize the opportunity.

Take the long view

When planning your business expo, always ask yourself how it will serve your overall business goals.

What constitutes success?

Assessing trade show success depends on your goals. What “trade show success” means to your business should be determined beforehand because it will lead you to make the best decisions in order to achieve those goals.


Budget for Trade Show Success

Devise a budget. Consider which products you want to promote, how much you want to spend, and what type of advertising is likely to be most effective.

Don’t overlook costs

It’s easy to overlook hidden costs, so separate trade show expenses into four exhibition categories: renting the space, designing the exhibit, promoting your products, and travel expenses for employees and exhibition transport.

  • Exhibition space
  • Exhibit design
  • Promotion
  • Travel

A typical trade show budget

In 2013, industries typically spent:

  • 5% on the exhibition space at the expo
  • 5% on travel
  • 2% on show services
  • 8% on construction and design of the exhibit
  • 3% on shipping
  • 1% on exhibition promotion
  • 6% on graphic design and production
  • 6 % on miscellaneous

Booth layout

Design something that draws people in and showcases your products. Simple enough!

Clean cut

Trade show success depends on a clear message. You might be excited about your new line of products coming out, but be selective. Consumers can only absorb so much. With too much stimuli they get overwhelmed. You also don’t want things to look cluttered. Everything representing your brand should look clean and professional.

On a theme

Brainstorm a theme that is visually memorable and works across mediums.


Ways to Make Your Trade Show Fun and Memorable

First impressions are important, but lasting impressions are also paramount.

Guerrilla marketing

Guerrilla marketing can be a surprise event or activity or something of your own invention. Use humor. Grab attention. Be creative. Make it memorable!

Create an experience

Make it interactive. Experiences are memorable.

Photo contests

Photo contests give you exposure and get clients and potential clients to engage rather than passively participate. Encourage visits to your booth to upload contest entries to social media. Create a memorable #hashtag to promote the event.

Make it a game

Games to win promotional items such as branded apparel, pens, mugs, key chains, and hats are always a big hit. Games also encourage people to be engaged.

Game activities

The best activities have contestants as active rather than passive participants. Ask yourself how they can engage with your product or service. Games might include:

  • Prize wheels
  • Trivia
  • Counting contests
  • Golf
  • Arcade games
  • Jumbo games

Promotional items

So, you’ve picked out a game, now you need prizes! Also consider a theme for your promotional items; the quirkier the better as long as it’s professional and reflects your brand. Imagination and giveaways draw in visitors.

What’s the use?

Put most of your resources into promotional items that are useful. Mugs, pencils, and pens are items most people keep and – even better – use.

Be purposeful

Don’t just give away items to give them away and always feature items that reflect your brand. If you’re at a food expo and you’re a monk representing your monastery’s homemade jam shop, logoed beer cozies probably wouldn’t make sense (although they would be memorable!). Of course, if your monastery still brews beer, maybe it would be appropriate. You know your business, your consumers, and your brand.

A lot of trade show success hinges on knowing your customers, their tastes, and what they respond to.

Promotional items made for trade show success

All items are fully customizable by T.R. McTaggart to make your business look great!

  • Umbrellas
  • T-shirts
  • Hoodies
  • Jackets
  • Hats and visors
  • Scarves
  • Tote bags
  • Water bottles
  • Pens and pencils
  • Coasters
  • Coffee mugs and Tumblers
  • Beverage cooler
  • Stress balls
  • Keychains
  • Sports items and jerseys
  • Drawstring backpack
  • Clocks
  • Mouse pads


Advertise via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to inform attendees of what’s happening at your booth. Get the word out!

Invite your loyal clients

It’s easier to make a pitch to someone who already trusts you and knows your company delivers on-time quality products and services!

Creating first impressions (and not leaving it to chance!)

It takes one-fifth of a second for a potential client to form an opinion of a display and 94% of that opinion is design related. So make sure your booth is professional and eye catching!

Send the right people

You want to send your employees who are good at customer service. People frowning at a booth not making eye contact isn’t going to cut it. People on their cell phones looking busy won’t seem inviting.

At the show

Make sure your company’s promotional items are well designed, attractively displayed, and handed out.

Swag and prizes promote your brand after the event. And, yes, they make the day – and your business – memorable!

Be welcoming

Greet people, offer coffee and tea, offer comfortable seating, and yummy snacks. Generosity begets generosity.

Enough about me

Show interest in others. Ask them about their company.

You can never be too organized!

Carry a folder with the schedule, a checklists, marketing materials, and business cards.

Get social (media)

Don’t let social media distract from real-life interactions, but employ social media to get out the word about your brand. Use social media to inform clients about your exhibit and post documentation of the event itself. Create a unique #hashtag for the event and promote it pre-event.

Stay motivated

Trade show success is also dependent upon staying power. Even at the end of the day, try to stay energetic. You want each potential client to experience a quality interaction.

The early bird (or business!) gets the worm

Trade show success isn’t just determined by what happens during the trade show. Follow up with leads the next day, if you can.

Sales leads are the point of the show, so it’s surprising how many businesses never follow up. Don’t be one of them! Relationships require follow-ups. Sales can’t happen unless you make contact with the buyer!

Categorize leads by how interested they seemed in your business and follow up with clients who seemed the most interested first. Make sure to personalize the message to the client.

Don’t forget to follow up on social media too!

It’s all about the ROI

Be strategic before, during, and after the trade show. Measure your ROI and let that inform your strategy next year.


Discuss what went well and what didn’t with your employees and devise a plan for trade show success for next year (and beyond!). Look at:

  • Immediate sales
  • Leads
  • Social media followers gained
  • Tweets with the official hashtag

Contact Us

For 50 years, T.R. McTaggart has provided expert advice and all the promotional items you’ll need for trade show success.

Our expertise in providing high-quality branded promotional items at the best price will ensure you have a successful expo. Call us at (800) 433-0983 or Contact Us for all of your trade show promotional item needs! We’re here to discuss design, gifts and apparel, strategy, and what’s worked in the past from our own and our customers’ experience. We’re here to help our clients succeed!

Have a successful trade show or business expo!










Using Custom T-Shirts to Boost Fundraising

So You Want to Put On a Fundraiser

Custom T-shirts are a great way to bring in money for your organization. When you boost fundraising with custom T-shirts you gain a host of benefits you might not have considered. You want to quickly raise money and then devote the majority of your time to achieving your organization’s mission, custom T-shirts can help you do both.

Key uses of custom T-shirts:

  • Sell to raise funds
  • Promote a cause
  • Promote an event
  • Raise awareness about your organization and the issues it supports

Nearly any organization can benefit from custom T-shirts for fundraising efforts.

Who can benefit:

  • Athletic departments
  • Athletic booster clubs
  • Nonprofits
  • Charity events

If you run a nonprofit or are athletic director or involved with boosters for an athletic department in need of subsidizing unmet school sports costs, you know that fundraising is an important part of your job, a non-negotiable. However, instead of being overwhelmed because it’s fundraising time, why not embrace it?


First, define your goal for the T-shirt fundraising initiative. Be specific and write it down. Break down the large goal into smaller chunks that will lead to fulfilling your ultimate goal.

Make sure to decide on a timeline as well. If you’re like most people, procrastination can come in the way of finishing and accomplishing what you set out to do. Make sure the timeline is realistic as well. You want to push yourself, but you don’t want to get frustrated.

Finally, look back at what you set out to do and reflect on it for your next fundraiser. You will learn something new every time.

Determine Your Target Market

Keep up with your target market’s current tastes. Especially if your target market is young, they can be fickle about style. Consider demographics such as:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Geography

Research to find out your target market’s other tastes so you can cater to what they are apt to like. For instance, if your audience is mostly women, consider adding tank tops as an option. Or consider the cost of the wholesale shirts if your customer is younger with less disposable income. You should always think about the season. If you are in a region that experiences long winters, you might choose a T-shirt that’s thicker, or possibly even long sleeve garments. On the other hand, if the T-shirt is going to be worn at a charity racing event, you might select a thinner, synthetic fabric.

Get Creative!

People are willing to pay for something special. So make your custom T-shirts something your potential buyers don’t have in their wardrobes, but would want to have. Customers are more likely to make a purchase if they don’t already have three T-shirts in the same color. In addition, if they’re looking for a shirt of a certain color to wear that day they won’t overlook yours, costing you brand exposure.

Do temper your creativity though; don’t get too crazy. You may want people to actually wear these shirts in public beyond the charity event or outside of baseball practice to increase brand exposure. However, even if people are sympathetic to your cause, they likely won’t buy the shirt if they don’t want to wear it!

Tell (and sell) a story

People love stories. Most people don’t buy things based on facts, but rather on an emotional feeling the advertiser is selling. This approach seems to be especially effective when a purchase is a want versus need.

Though raising funds is the goal, you want people to connect with and remember your cause. People remember stories. Look at other campaigns that have been successful and ask: Why they worked? How did they tell their story? How can you tie-in your design to convey your story?

Making Connections

T-shirts help people feel a connection with your cause. They are literally wearing it – and advertising it. The shirt connects them physically with the idea or cause. They’ve committed to it.

Custom T-shirts can also take on symbolic meaning. At the Tour de France a yellow or polka dot shirt isn’t just a yellow shirt or a shirt with a pattern; the shirt is transformed to symbolize winning and the sacrifice and dedication that led up to it. Further, pastel pink is immediately associated with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s efforts to fight breast cancer. Creating symbolic meaning takes time and effort, which begins with a design that captivates.

Lastly, T-shirts produced specifically for fundraising make people feel a sense of community with others wearing the T-shirts. They will wear your garments as a badge of honor so make them great in doing so.


People love giving to good causes. Incentives make it even better! While the cost of custom T-shirts must be subtracted from the amount donated, adding T-shirts into the equation carries a lot of advantages.

You raise your organization’s visibility. A donor purchases a shirt and then other potential donors see it and ask about it, and the message spreads. A conversation is started. Or, donors post selfies on social media, such as Facebook or Instagram, and people see it and then Google it to find information about the cause.

Some people, though they probably wouldn’t admit it, like to show others that they are charitable. A T-shirt provides them an opportunity to accomplish this! In one study, offering to publish names of donors in a newsletter if they donated a certain amount increased the likelihood of donations by 24.5% and increased the amount given by almost 14%.

This suggests that an incentive such as a custom T-shirt will likely encourage people to donate more. Say they were going to donate $20 but a shirt is $30. You’ve just raised a contribution by 50% (less the expense of the shirt)!

Consider your margins

Don’t lose sight of your primary goal: profiting from the sale to raise funds. Make sure you consider the cost of each shirt, including the cost of screen printing or other applications, when you determine the price you will charge to consumers.

Deliver on the goods!

At T.R. McTaggart, we have myriad styles and colors so you can be as specific as you want when designing how your product(s) will look. Our custom T-shirts are also high quality, so customers are always satisfied. This also means the T-shirts last a long time, extending the life of the T-shirts’ promotional value for your organization.


The approach to marketing that will be most effective for your nonprofit can be unpredictable, but do as much research as you can to make an educated guess about the best strategy to pursue.

One option to boost fundraising with custom T-shirts is creating a Facebook ad aimed at your target demographic. Post it on your website and social media pages even consider purchasing an ad in a local newspaper or magazine to reach readers who may be interested in your cause. Consider organizing an event such as a fun run or golf outing. Through these, you engage the community and have an opportunity for publicity. A press release to your local newspaper to get earned media wouldn’t hurt either.

Be sure to pay attention to the medium you’re communicating through. Sending emails to potential donors is something you should do, but if you’re trying to reach potential donors on social media it is better to engage in a dialogue. Don’t just cut and paste your email blast. Ask your followers on Facebook to post your message on their wall or share it with their friends. Not only is this strategy more effective in raising money, it spreads the word about your organization along the way.

Consider reaching out beyond your usual base support. It is best to use multiple approaches to reach multiple audiences.


If you are able to do so, another factor that entices people to donate is getting a well-known person to either donate to your nonprofit – or possibly provide a PSA in support of. This increases the chances that someone will donate by 22%. If you get a big name to sponsor you, make sure others are aware! People are busy and there are a lot of charities. A famous name makes people assume their job is easier – they don’t need to research the charity closely because it’s already been evaluated as a worthy organization. If you can get the celebrity to wear your custom T-shirt in public, exposure will skyrocket, and so will sales!

Get out the word!

There are numerous ways to approach your campaign and feature your custom T-shirt.

  • Promote on your Facebook page
  • Find similar groups on Facebook
  • Connect with groups on LinkedIn
  • Advertise your message on Twitter
  • Attend local events
  • Organize a local event

Be proactive about your marketing campaign. If you aren’t sure how to go about this, enlist someone who can help.

Reach out to like-minded groups

Are groups and organizations with similar missions aware of your campaign? Consider teaming up and cross-promoting with them. By helping each other out, you can both increase your base of support.

T.R. McTaggart provides custom T-shirts

At T.R. McTaggart, we create custom T-shirts using your design or we can create unique designs to help you promote your brand and achieve your organization’s goals. Our expertise in designing and providing custom T-shirts has come from 40 years of experience. T.R. McTaggart creates custom T-shirts using screen printing, embroidery, or dye sublimation. We will work with you to make sure you have the colors, styles, and most importantly that your message gets across effectively. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

Custom T-shirt online store

We also offer a free online store that can be created for custom T-shirt sales.

Setting up a custom store also has the benefit of meeting demand and not over or under estimating that demand.

Custom online store advantages include avoiding:

  • Up-front costs
  • Risk
  • Worry about collecting and keeping track of money
  • Dealing with shipping and handling
  • Keeping inventory
  • Logistics of distribution

We look forward to working with you on your custom T-shirts!



Using Promotional Items to Boost Your Organization’s Presence

Get Your Organization Noticed

For many organizations, particularly nonprofits that are running on a Spartan budget, using promotional items to boost your organization’s presence at fundraisers and exhibitions is the most effective way to spend your marketing dollars.

Ads are everywhere. On TV and newspapers. On the side of buses and on grocery store floors. When we surf the web pop ups momentarily prevent us from getting to the content. Digital ads follow us online. There are even digital video ads on bathroom stalls at restaurants.

The public is savvy about being manipulated by advertising. Yet, advertising is vital for promoting your organization or business. So, how does one reach customers without putting them off? And, better yet, is there a way to do it cost effectively?

While consumers might fast forward through TV ads or ignore banner ads while they are surfing the web, they love free stuff!

Some cite the first promotional product as a commemorative button for George Washington’s Presidential election in 1789. However, promotional products didn’t become prevalent until the twentieth century. It is puzzling that it took so long to catch on because promotional items have traditionally had a great Return on Investment (ROI).


Nonprofits are one of the top ten purchasers of promotional items. One study found that 41 percent of U.S. consumers bought a product because it was “associated with a cause or issue,” so this shouldn’t be surprising. However, there are many reasons why promotional items that will promote your brand make sense for your nonprofit organization.

Some reasons include:

  • Helps fundraising for your organization when soliciting donors or offering products for purchase
  • Increases response rates to mailers soliciting donations when an item like a refrigerator magnet, key chain, or pen is included
  • Educates people who see others wearing shirts or carrying totes in public
  • Makes a nice “thank you” gift to volunteers and donors

Make a positive impression

Whether you’re a for- or nonprofit organization, promotional items leave potential patrons with a significantly more favorable impression of organizations that provide them compared to other forms of advertising. The following breakdown details the percentage of people who felt more favorably towards an organization after being exposed to various types of advertising:

  • 9% who saw online advertising
  • 7% who saw a television commercial
  • 2% who saw a print ad
  • 42-52% who received a promotional item

How cost effective are promotional items?

So, we know promotional items work, but how do they stack up cost-wise?

It turns out promotional products have the best ROI compared with the other main forms of advertising. Many companies calculate the Cost Per Impression (CPI) of their advertisements and research reveals these averages.

The CPI for various media buys:

  • $0.019 for prime time TV spots
  • $0.019 for half-page black and white newspaper ads
  • $0.006 for syndicated daytime TV spots
  • $0.005 for radio spots
  • $0.003 for billboards

The average CPI for promotional items? Just $0.004!

Why promotional items work

Promotional items are effective because, depending on the item, people hang on to them and use them; they might even use them every day. Each time someone uses a promotional item they are essentially advertising your organization to others who see the person using or wearing it.

In addition, promotional items work because when someone gives you something, psychology dictates that you will feel like you owe the giver a favor in return. In this case, buying the giver’s products or donating to their organization.

To sum it up:

  • People like free things.
  • Promotional items provide a lot of brand exposure at a low price.
  • People experience positive feelings toward an organization after receiving an item.

Social media

Why not go the extra step and have a little fun with it?

Pairing promotional items that will promote your brand with social media is also a good strategy. It’s a good way to both retain and gain patrons or donors.

People like to feel appreciated, so show your loyal clientele or benefactors that you appreciate their patronage with free gifts every now and then. Word of mouth is powerful. When people feel goodwill and appreciation from your organization and like your brand, they will speak kindly of you to their friends and colleagues.

On social media it is also easy for people to share your organization’s page with their friends. People like to be the trendsetter and find good deals so that they can be the one who shares them with their friends.

A trendy promotional gift can also be effective on social media. Take some of the excitement for the hottest new product and direct some of that excitement to your organization!

Why not extend the reach offered by social media even further by also requesting information from visitors? Besides, if people are asked to sign up for a newsletter they may be apt to buy or donate later, having remembered a good experience with your brand.

Ways to implement social media:

  • Offer promotional items for liking your Facebook or Twitter page.
  • Offer promotional items for signing up for an e-newsletter or giving you their email or mailing address.
  • Encourage people to post or send you pictures of them using your promotional products. This is good publicity for potential customers or donors to see the pictures of others using your products and it gets people actively engaged with your brand.
  • Print QR codes, twitter handles, or other social media sites on your promotional items.
  • Include a big-ticket item contest or drawing advertised in store, at a conference, at a trade show, or on social media.

Potential Pitfalls

Like any form of advertising, there are drawbacks and things to consider.

  • Some experts claim effective promotional items have at least a $5 to $10 perceived value. This can be an expensive investment.
  • Consumers will hang on to the item for varying lengths of time depending on the item. For example, food will expose your brand to the consumer for a shorter time period than other items.
  • This year’s hot colors might go out of style next season. How many T-shirts are do you plan to distribute? It’s OK if you give away all of them; however, if you buy in bulk for a discount and plan to pass some out next year, choose something more traditional that will still be in fashion.

The most effective promotional items

Pens. Pens. Pens.

While there are many options, pens are at the top of the list because they are used more than any other item. Everyone needs a pen and one study showed 40% of recipients used their pens twice per day. Pens also last a long time. This is a lot of brand exposure for such a small and inexpensive promotional item.

However, don’t make your pens so inexpensive that they are poor quality, as this will reflect poorly on your organization. Other than that, you really can’t go wrong.

Tote bags are another great option. Research shows bags are the most frequently used promotional items by consumers, averaging nine uses per month. Because consumers carry them around in public, each bag creates about 1,038 impressions per month. That’s huge!

Consumers also keep bags for nine months, a relatively long period for promotional items. Apparel is also kept around a while, averaging seven months.

The other promotional items people most often keep are items they find useful in the kitchen or the office.

In sum:

  • Pens
  • Bags
  • Kitchen gadgets
  • Office supplies

Effective promotional items are:

  • Used regularly
  • Kept nearby

The most preferred promotional items include:

  • Clocks and watches
  • Digital picture frames
  • Food baskets
  • Luggage
  • MP3 players

While these are the statistics, keep in mind what will work best for your organization’s budget. It is important that your promotional items relate to your brand. This makes it easier for potential patrons to remember you and make connections between the promotional item and your brand.

For example, if you’re a yoga studio and you take away people’s watches at the door to meditate without regard to time, a watch or clock wouldn’t make sense as a promotional item and would certainly confuse your brand’s message!

Promotional Items for Nearly Any Need

T.R. McTaggart provides promotional items that will promote your brand that are high quality and customizable. This reflects well on your brand. We can create items to your specifications to increase your brand recognition.

The products we provide include:

  • Automotive
  • Badges
  • Lanyards
  • Bags
  • Calendars
  • Computer accessories
  • Desk items
  • Eco friendly
  • Food and beverage
  • Games
  • Golf items
  • Healthcare
  • Key tags
  • Kitchen and home
  • Mugs and drinkware
  • Pens
  • Sports and outdoors
  • Stress balls
  • Tools and hardware
  • Travel items

Contact Us Today

T.R McTaggart has over two decades of experience and expertise producing promotional items. If you want to find out more about how we can work with you to design and develop promotional items for your organization that will make your brand stand out, call us today at (800) 433-0983 to talk to a friendly representative about your organization’s needs.






4 Keys to a Successful Trade Show

What to consider when planning a trade show

You’ve decided it’s time to represent your business at a trade show to expand your customer base and grow your business. However, the first time planning a trade show can be overwhelming. There are a lot of logistics involved in the process and a lot of things that could potentially go wrong. So, how do you achieve a successful trade show appearance? While there are many things to consider, there are 4 keys to a successful trade show that are paramount:

  • Be strategic
  • Plan
  • Maximize the time you are there
  • Distribute promotional materials 

Be Strategic

Before you commit to a trade show, do your research to make sure your efforts will be worthwhile. If only a small fraction of the demographic you’re trying to reach is going to attend, don’t invest time and money. You could plan an impressive display only to be disappointed. Also make sure that you project the cost of participating in the trade show to be made up for in new business revenue.

On the other hand, if your business makes sense in the context of the trade show, it can be a great opportunity to connect with potential clients. Once you’ve decided that participating at a trade show is a good investment, it’s time to figure out how to make the most of the event.

Potential clients or buyers come to the event ready to learn about what your business has to offer. However, there’s also going to be competition, so try to get a prime location. Though it costs extra, it’s worth it. Book your spot well in advance because this real estate goes fast. If you plan to attend every year, you might even be able to strike up a discount with the organizers.

Another way to increase traffic to your booth is to market it before the exhibition. Offering an incentive to stop by via social media is one tactic.

Usually a list of registered attendees is available beforehand. Make use of it! You can research these perspective customers to better understand the demographic attending and tailor your presentation to them. Perhaps you highlight specific products or services that you think would appeal to the demographic attending.

Then, once you attract people to your booth, make the most of it. Just like in networking, many people who meet a professional contact have a quality conversation, but then never follow up. If you have a great lead, pursue it! Things might not pan out, but why put in all that effort just to neglect what could become a great business relationship? Make sure you follow up with potential clients within six weeks.

Personalization is also important. Try to incorporate specific information from your conversation at the show when you follow up. It shows that you were listening to clients’ needs and would be responsive if they decide to work with you. 


Probably one of the most important keys to a successful trade show is planning. To plan effectively, make a budget, allow yourself enough time, and carefully consider your exhibit. 

Make a budget

Doing this helps you evaluate the true cost of the exhibition. Separate expenses into categories. For example:

  • Exhibition space rental
  • Exhibit design and accompanying technology
  • Promotion
  • Travel and staffing

Add a cushion to your budget in case anything goes wrong. For example, you could add on 10% of what you think the total cost will be. If you need to replace a computer cord or battery you want the hassle to be the time it takes you to go to the store, not getting approval for the purchase you needed ten minutes ago.

Also, consider using a booth design that can be used for multiple events. This can save you money in the future.

Another way to save on cost is to forego a plywood or laminate booth structure in favor of a design construction that uses poles with stretched fabric. Since this design is lightweight, it’s cheaper to ship. Plus it’s easy to assemble, saving on time. Storing the exhibit compactly is a plus as well.

Allot yourself weeks or even months to plan the event

Figure out what equipment you need so you can place your technical requirements with the trade show organizers to make sure you can be accommodated, especially if things are first come first served.

Ship your exhibit ahead of time. Then if anything breaks in shipment you have time to fix it.

Do a run-through to determine if everything is working. Then you can see if you’ve overlooked something or if technology isn’t working and needs to be replaced.

Think of Plan B and C. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, something goes wrong that is out of your control. If a computer isn’t working or you don’t have an electrical outlet, do you have high-quality printouts of your slides? Is there a way you could improvise and still get your business’ message across effectively?

Also, don’t be afraid to ask exhibit organizers for help. They’ve been doing this for a long time and might know a quick fix you hadn’t considered. 

Put effort into how your exhibit is presented

Make your exhibit stand out and include text that is easy to read from all directions. A trade show is not the time to place similar fonts and background colors together to look stylish but that are hard to read from a distance. Just like multiple ads on a news page or in a magazine, all the exhibits are competing for the customer’s attention. Peruse some magazines and see what sticks out to you and draws your eye.

Include a variety of media that appeal to different people. Like in school, some people prefer videos to learn. Others might want literature, such as brochures and pamphlets, to bring home and read later. 

Then evaluate

Does the display draw in visitors? Does it clearly convey your company’s message?

Maximize your time

Have enough staff available. You’ve invested a lot of time and money to be at the trade show. The last thing you want is to successfully bring in traffic only for potential customers to have no one to make a connection with or to answer questions.

Offer specials only available at the show, advertising it prominently, to make customers more apt to purchase from you during the event. You can engage on social media before the event and have prominent signs to alert potential clients of your trade show promo.

In addition to information about your products and services at your display, also include helpful materials to potential clients. If you become a problem solver, customers will come to you for answers and you will establish yourself as an expert – and gain their business.

This should go without saying, but dress professionally and pay attention to everyone. Like it or not, you are judged by what you wear. On the flip side, many exhibitors brush off people who don’t look important. However, these days you often can’t tell how powerful a person is by clothing. Think of Mark Zuckerberg. If you ignore people in flip flops or a t-shirt, you could miss out on a potentially lucrative client.

Distribute Branded Items

Contests and prizes are a fun way to draw in a crowd and create an atmosphere of excitement at a trade show. Select items that prominently display your brand and that attendees will keep with them for a long period of time, such as mugs, notepads, and pens. This places your brand in their daily lives. Maximize the opportunity by requiring that attendees either take information from you or provide you with contact information in order to be eligible for the prize.

Brand drinks or snacks with your logo. While these items don’t last long they do advertise your display as people walk around.

Unlocking the Keys to a Successful Trade Show

While it might seem daunting at first, planning a successful trade show is doable if you think strategically, plan ahead, maximize your resources, and distribute promotional materials to your key demographic. T.R. McTaggart is here help you plan your events and to brainstorm strategies to selecting promotional materials that are right for your business.

We have expertise in providing comprehensive solutions for trade show success, from planning to promotional materials. Servicing the retail and gift industry as well as corporations and non-profits, for almost four decades, T.R. McTaggart has helped clients find the perfect promotional items to increase brand awareness.

Whether you are looking for something specific or browsing for ideas, we are your one-stop trade show success source. Contact us to discuss your needs in greater detail or to request a quote.

We look forward to working with you!




Get more out of your next conference

34238760 - conferenceConferences can be a great way to meet people and get out of your day-to-day routine. But you only get as much out of them as you put it. Here are a few ways to get more mileage out of your time there:

  • Request to speak on a panel. This might sound like an introvert’s worst nightmare, but it can really be a boon to one’s career. After you speak, people tend to come up and find you, so that eliminates any awkwardness. You never know—your next big client could be in the audience!
  • Make the most of dinner. Everyone needs to eat, after all. Invite a few fellow conference goers out and you might discover you have more in common than you thought. Plus, it’s a great way to get to know people outside of a stuffy conference setting.
  • Be open to chance encounters. Sometimes the best conversations occur on a whim. So set yourself up to impress. Make it a point to learn names and capture tidbits of biographical information. Even if the conversation is brief, you’re off to a good start by building on a topic they’re passionate about: him or herself! It won’t always work, but it’s possible they’ll want to connect further maybe on LinkedIn or via email.  You might even consider handing out a branded promotional item.
  • Use wardrobe strategically. Sometimes articles of clothing can be good talking points. For example, as a woman you might pin an antique brooch on your blouse or if you’re a man, you might choose a colorful tie. Don’t be afraid to express yourself!