Trade Show (Credit:

“Craig, can you please create a new exhibit booth for me?”
When it comes to trade shows, the exhibit is usually the only thing on my clients’ mind. I’ve created several dozen exhibit booths … and here are some of the secrets to success I’ve learned.
To be successful and profitable, there really are 13 keys to making a show profitable.
And the starting point is applying direct response principles to the campaign.
Direct response applies to all disciplines, including trade shows.
Research indicates that 16% of those who attend any given industry show will be interested in your product(s) and 86% of all attendees play a role in the buying decision process.
While this makes exhibiting at trade shows a highly cost effective marketing tool, you can easily waste thousands of dollars and wind up with disappointing results unless you prepare, maximize your presence, and follow-up on the event.
This advice may seem obvious, but most marketers don’t apply the proper direct marketing strategies to their exhibit marketing!
Incorporate the following thirteen tips into your ore-show preparation, presence at the show and post-show marketing follow-through to get the most out of trade shows and generate the most profits from your investment.
Pre-Show Preparation: The Foundation for Success
1.Establish show objectives. Why are you exhibiting at the show? Who will be there? What products are involved? What information needs to be collected? What results are expected? Ask these critical questions.
When I start the show’s process, often key issues include: What needs to be ordered, secured, or created for the event?

  1. Put your plan in writing. Assign responsibility for each aspect of the plan and make sure it’s all measureable. This will help you track results and keep everyone involved on target and responsible.

That critical function is what I often do for our clients, because you can’t skip it.

  1. Identify Key Prospects and use the right approach to get them to the event. Create a profile on each prospect and use an appropriate technique such as email, text, direct mail, calling, LinkedIn, Facebook, or three-dimensional direct marketing (if the profit margin is high), to get them to visit your booth. Alert your prospects well in advance that you’ll be at the show and contact them several times prior to the event to increase your chances of seeing them there.

Consider a premium/hook technique aimed directly at key prospects.
At the Event: Maximizing Your Presence

  1. Create a great impression. The attitude of your booth personnel is one of the most important ingredients for the success of your trade show exhibit.

The first impression of your company will be created by those people. A warm smile, a firm handshake, a genuine interest in the visitor, appropriate dress are absolutes.
Smoking, gum chewing, eating in the booth, idle and excessive chatter among booth personnel, and sitting down are unacceptable. Arms should never be crossed or hands placed in pockets.
Both personnel shouldn’t stand in the center of the exhibit, but face the aisle, directly standing at a 45-degree angle to create a more inviting appearance. Working trade show booths can be fatiguing, so make sure y our people get plenty of rest.

  1. Grab prospects’ attention. Use the psychology of graphics and color to grab the viewer’s attention. More important than your company name or product is a sign that states a benefit of your product and tells the prospects what you can do for them. This sign should read like a billboard with a bold message in eight words or less. Create tease and curiosity—not your company name.

Use graphics as you would in an ad, and don’t hesitate to use color. Red, yellow, or orange, for example, help emphasize the message and draw the viewer’s eye to your booth.
Black lettering on a yellow or orange background is 60% more likely to be read than black lettering on a white background.

  1. Use pictures. This will improve communication to all of your prospects, especially international visitors. Photographs communicate better than graphics for the 10% to 30% of attendees at trade shows from outside the U.S. A storyboard of photos that shows before and after images and how your product is used in various stages is more effective than words.
  2. Don’t encourage grab-and-run behavior. Key chains, pens and other giveaways stacked randomly on a counter create the grab-and-run behavior. Carry a few giveaways with you, and after each token of appreciation.
  3. Create open spaces in your booth that allow visitors to browse. Create a sign, “You’re welcome to browse and enjoy our exhibit.” Never place a table across the front of an exhibit because it acts as a blockade. Use round tables at counter height to create e more friendly side-by-side atmosphere.
  4. Record the information you obtain on visitors immediately. The lead forms you use should include space for all pertinent information, including answers to the qualifying questions on immediacy of need, quantity, etc. While people think that they will remember this information later, it should be captured (written down or keyed into a computer) immediately.
  5. Go the extra mile for key prospects. Extra efforts make a difference. Have someone from your company speak at the show if there are speakers or presentations. Make customers feel special by hosting a party in their honor, which will also provide an opportunity to get feedback, collect testimonials, and generate loyalty.

After the Show: Just the Beginning

  1. Get your leads fast! Acting quickly is critical in any effort to convert a qualified lead to a sale. It is estimated that a prospect is most likely to commit to your product or service if you follow-up within two days. If you wait until the third day, you are likely to lose up to 30% of the prospects you could have acquired. Wait two weeks and the possibilities of losing 50% of these prospects is great!
  2. Convert leads into sales. Sales people find that the first efforts often do not result in an immediate order. Most marketers should send three to six follow-up pieces to an inquiry in order to maximize sales. In some cases, more than six are required. An effective, multi-talented professional conversion series that combines computer technology with proper direct response advertising techniques can be a valuable tool for turning your leads into sales.
  3. Create a long-range tracking and reporting system (database) to determine effectiveness. As with any other marketing technique, in order to determine the effectiveness of your trade show exhibit, a long-range tracking and reporting system is essential. It isn’t enough to kjnow how many people visited your booth during the show or how many of them were qualified prospects. Was there adequate and prompt follow-up? Did they buy? What about the prospects who didn’t buy? Are they contacted periodically? This information is vital and profitable.

Do you need any help with your copy or direct marketing strategies? Contact me (310) 212-5727 or email me at