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!