9 Tips to Improve Your Pre-Trade Show Marketing

  • Aug 28, 2013

Do You Wait for Customers to Walk Into Your Booth- Or Are You Doing Pre-Marketing?

Austin, Texas: Trade shows–you gotta love them–right?

I have personally exhibited at over 250 trade shows in my career – and have helped clients with thousands of their own trade shows, as well – and I am still amazed at the amount of poor planning that goes into the pre-marketing of trade shows.

It is no fun to pass the time watching people walk by your booth — either with a quick head nod (if you are lucky!) or being totally ignored completely.

One of my favorite lines is: “everybody knows us..the ones that matter will stop by.”


The others don’t matter and the ones that do will all make it a point in their busy schedule to seek you out?


Without pre-trade show marketing, your trade show success will be less than optimal.

How can you pre-market?

Here are 9 pre-trade show marketing ideas:

1) The first step is to contact the trade show organizer and see if they rent out their pre-registration lists. Many do for a fee–and that is money well spent.

2) Do a pre-show mailing to this list (or a segment of the list). This can be a postcard mailing, a small promotional product in a padded envelope or an email campaign. I suggest the more pre-show contacts or touches–the better. Offer these people a reason to stop by–such as sneak preview, free gift, special discounts, meet and greet with a celebrity, etc.

3) Get the list to take some type of action before the show–such as to log in to set up an appointment, or to enter a contest. Those that take some sort of action step before the trade show are more likely to remember your booth.

4) Follow up before the show to remind them of the appointment This can be through email, text or a phone call– but get them something a day or so before the show to remember to stop by your booth. People are busy and forgetful — and there is so much going on at trade shows and traveling that people may forget.

5) Do some pre-show advertising. Many shows sell space in a show guide that can be effective with the right offer. Make it enticing for them to stop by. You can also sponsor certain show activities or events that will get your name and log on the website for trade show attendees to see and link to. I have had good success with pre-show advertising offers by offering a free gift when they stop by.

6) Try to have a consistent theme in all your pre-show contact points– and make sure your booth matches the theme. Colors, fonts, theme, message –make sure they are all consistent so each piece complements and reinforces the other.

7) Train Your Staff: This actually has a great deal to do with pre-show marketing as all staff should know who to expect, how to handle guests who have received pre-show announcements – and when they might be coming. Staff should know who they need to introduce certain visitors to (whether it be by region, by industry, etc.). Don’t blow all your pre-show activity on staff who did not get the memo. Train them.

8) Take notes and see what works for next time. Constantly seek new ideas and better ways and your next trade show can be a huge success.

9) Have fun. Smile. People expect trade shows to be a good time so give them what they expect. Pack some Tylenol and comfortable shoes before leaving – and try to wear two pairs of socks. It works for me.

Happy Marketing!

  • Category: Trade Shows
  • Tags: pre-trade show marketing, pre-trade show marketing ideas, trade show marketing, trade show tips