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Tradeshow Marketing Ideas for First Timers

by Olufisayo
Tradeshow Marketing Ideas

There is nothing quite the hub-bub and excitement of a trade show. There is also nothing quite like the sore aching feet at the end of the day, the throbbing headache and the croaky voice, either.

However, it is all worth it if you come away with mush needed contacts and customers. But, the sad fact is that some people will have worked the exhibition or trade show circuit for years and never really quite hit the jackpot.

As you stand on the edge of commerce show greatness, you may be wondering how to create the perfect trade show strategy and indeed, why you need to do this. The answer is simple: if you don’t, all those hours spent on your feet, chatting with every person who walks past will all be for nothing.

So, hold back, just for a minute or two on ordering every item of public stock from Colour Graphics, and look through our marketing ideas for trade show first timers…

Tradeshow Marketing Ideas

Get the best booth slot (in your price range)

You can have all the glossy brochures, freebie keyrings and bottle top openers all you like, but your strategy will fall flat on its face if you are in the wrong spot.

When you apply to be part of a tradeshow, you will be sent a map of the room or area, where the booths are located and the price bands for each. The ones in prime spots will cost more, no surprise there.

So, if your budget is minimal, you may find that your only option is a small space in the corner. While this may not be ideal, it is a foot in the door and can, with the right ideas and strategy be the perfect spot for your business.

Tip – Study the information sent by the trade show organisers, including expected delegate numbers and where they are from, etc.

Professionalise your look and road test your ideas

You have a logo, a brand, etc., etc., etc. Fabulous. But, is it? How professional do you look? Are you sleek and business-like, or a little hit-and-miss, sometimes?

Your message needs to be clear and unambiguous.

In fact, thinking outside the box is a great way of getting your message across but have a trial run with people who may not know the ins and outs of your business – what do they ‘get’ when they see your company and read your message?


Any key tip for trade show first timers is approachability. You, your booth, you, staff and the general set up needs to look and feel approachable. If it isn’t – for example, it might seem a little too off the wall and not clear what you do – people can feel awkward approaching it.

But remember, people are different. Some people prefer something to take away and digest at leisure – that’s when your leaflets of brochures come into play. Other people like to interact and so iPads or tablets with a game etc. will be welcomed and unique. Others just like to mill about – so don’t feel that everything has to be on a sales footing.


If you host dinner parties, you will know the importance of being attentive without being over-bearing and controlling. Hosting your booth is the same thing.

All too often, businesses throw up their booth and sit back, waiting for people to come flooding in. This is a colossal mistake that is no good for you, nor your business image or impression. So, decide what hosting skills are essential and who will be best placed to do it.

Tip – you will need more than one host as it can be tiring after a while…

Contests, promotions and specials

The whole point of a trade show is to connect with potential customers. You may not secure an order for millions on the day as a lot of the sale closing hard work happens afterwards.

In fact, we suggest that you do have an exquisite offer – the best you can do, with plenty of added value – to entice people over and then, with gentle yet powerful action and talk after the tradeshow, you could bag yourself some orders.

Tip – you do need a tradeshow strategy that clearly outlines objectives. Why are you attending that particular trade show, for example?

Snacks and drinks

We are not sold on offering stacks and drinks to be honest but others say that it works for them every single time, without fail. If your budget can withstand it, bottles of water and some snacks may work. Or, you could just make a lot of tidying up for yourself at the end of a busy day.


There are freebie hunters at tradeshows, people who go for a demonstration or two but then spend the rest of the time entering every single competition they can, along with freebie hunting on gargantuan proportions.

In some ways, you could see this as a wasted opportunity but in other ways, if getting your name/logo/brand out there for public consumption is tope of your strategy, then freebies are the way to go.

And finally…

… enjoy it!

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