6 Trade Show Strategies for Success


As we enter trade show season in the manufacturing industry, it’s important to recognize the impact these events have on business. Trade shows bring together all the different moving pieces of our industry – from consumers to suppliers to manufacturers and distributors. What a perfect time to introduce new products, showcase expertise, and open conversations. 

Participating in events like these takes a pretty significant amount of planning and organization between departments to be a success. We’re sharing a few of our secrets for success in planning a positive trade show experience.

trade show strategies infographic

Plan in Advance

Make sure you are organized; research trade shows in your industry and decide what makes sense for your company. You may already have a running list of shows in your industry, or ideas on where you might want to exhibit. Many of these shows begin planning and registration months or even years in advance and if you plan on exhibiting, the best spaces fill up quickly. This is especially true if you require a larger space, or have pieces of equipment that will be shipping in and set up on-site. Pro tip: Make sure to pay attention to any early bird deadlines that can help alleviate the cost of registration and other expenses. 

Establish Goals & An Outreach Strategy for the Show

As an exhibitor, you often have access to the list of attendees and other exhibitors. Take the time to look at this list and set expectations for who you’d like to connect with during the show. A good strategy would include connecting on LinkedIn or sending a personalized email of introduction. Getting in front of your prospective audience earlier helps with brand awareness and may spark some early conversations. 

Additionally, it’s important to think about the overall goals of the show. Are you hoping to make connections, set meetings, or general brand visibility? Get on the same page with your trade show team as to what these are ahead of time to keep expectations consistent. 

Prepare Your Booth & Products

There’s nothing worse than a trade show product demo that fails or that doesn’t capture visitors’ interest. You are the expert in your field and it’s your job to make your booth as attractive as possible. Make sure you have all of the collateral pieces and any materials you need for your booth far in advance. Here’s a quick checklist:

  • Business cards and name tags
  • Branded table cloth
  • Banners or signage
  • AV equipment
  • Brochures or examples of your work (case studies, white papers)
  • A way to track booth visitors (a gift basket with a fishbowl for entries – you can also collect business cards easily this way as well!)

Connect with Other Exhibitors

Other vendors are typically targeting a similar audience as you. Connecting with these companies could be a great asset – you may learn a lot from your peers, and even potentially find partners, which could lead to new business or possible leads. 

Leverage Social Media for Promotion

Do your research and see if the show has a hashtag or social channels and use them to your advantage. Attendees and vendors are often participating in person AND virtually so join in the conversation and you might attract some people to your booth.

Also, think about how you can promote your attendance through paid networks such as LinkedIn ads or other channels. Getting in front of your targeted audience early and often will be a key to recognition during the days of the trade show. 

Follow-Up Fast

Even after the show is over, your job is definitely not. Most likely, you left the show with a ton of business cards and a great possibility of new clients or partnerships.  But don’t forget, people have many interactions at trade shows. As much as you want to believe that yours were different, it’s tough to remember everyone’s name and product after the show. Don’t be afraid of reaching out too quickly, because the longer you wait, the longer they have to forget who you are and what you said.

When it comes down to it, I think the best advice to prepare for a big trade show is to be organized and get ready well ahead of the show. There are a lot of moving pieces and parts to pull off an event like this, so having a solid strategy is key. If you’re interested in learning more, Top Floor is holding an in-person event on September 27th: Maximizing Your Trade Show Strategy through Digital Marketing