Exhibiting at Trade Shows, Why and Why Not?

All About Trade Shows: Exhibiting

Attending trade shows is a proven method to increase your brand awareness and to generate leads. Like all methods however, if done incorrectly it can also bring harm. In this article we will discuss the benefits of trade shows and also address potential problems that could encourage you to not exhibit at a trade show.

 Importance of Exhibiting at Trade Shows

The benefits of attending trade shows are countless. The straightforward benefits are lead generation and exposure. It’s important to note that most trade shows are not revenue generating opportunities, even if it does happen from time to time. Certain trade shows are more likely to generate revenue, especially if you are well prepared for that purpose, however, trade shows are primarily marketing and networking opportunities. To start off, we’ll identify some common reasons to exhibit at trade shows.

  • Exposure
  • Fresh, Original Content for Your Company
  • Direct Lead Generation
  • Indirect Lead Generation
  • Brand Image
  • New Product Introduction

When talking about Indirect Lead generation, we are led back to exposure. Just being out in the open will get you noticed. Passerbys might not directly convert into leads at the trade show, but because they saw you there, they might turn to you in the future. In addition, if asked by a colleague “do you know a company that does ****” they could recall your name. There are many other examples similar to these that are simply impossible to track. On the other hand, you can also directly gain leads from people who interact with you or participate in some of the lead generation activities you have prepared for the event. For ideas about lead generating activities, you can check out our article on Driving Traffic at Trade Shows, and the section about social media cards in our article about Handouts in Trade Shows.

Customers and potential customers value seeing their company be active. Participating in trade shows is one way to do that. Make sure to take pictures and videos when participating events and exhibiting at trade shows. These original media become a priceless marketing collateral that can be used in countless ways. Having your own original pictures to put on social media, e-mails, reports, brochures etc. is extremely effective. Similarly, these pictures and trade shows can help refine your brand image. For example, if your company wants to be viewed in a green-friendly light, participating in events that are hosted by green companies or have a green-initiative is a great way to spread awareness to your company’s green-initiative.

Many companies have used trade shows to feature new products. This is particular effective as it can be hard to attract customers towards new products. Having your new product out in the open for people to test and see in person is very good exposure for it and can propel the product towards success.

 Criteria for Opting Out of Trade Shows

In a different light, we wanted to address 3 circumstances that are important to consider before exhibiting at a trade show.

  • lack of funding
  • different target audience
  • lack of preparation

Lack of funding and preparation are two separate reasons, however the case they make is a similar one. Both of these can actually hurt your company. If your company is not willing to put in the minimum amount of funding for a decent quality exhibit, you might seriously consider whether or not you would like to go. I have personally seen companies exhibiting with a just wooden table with their name printed on a white piece of paper that was taped to the table. Two booths away was a company with a table cover, 2 standing banners, 5 staff members, promotional products and some other informative handouts. Needless to say the former company did not receive many visitors. In fact I knew two people who attended with the one of their goals being to talk to company A but did not end up doing so. One person said they could not find them at all. This was probably because of how underwhelming their exhibit was. The other person said they were disheartened by their display and looked at other companies instead. This might have been due to a lack of funding, or just that they did not allocate the required time to prepare for the event.

Exhibiting at trade shows can be pricey depending on the size of trade show. Many of those costs however are fixed costs and will cost you less the more trade shows you go to. For example our Trade Show Starter Pack costs $750, which for a small company new to trade shows can seem expensive. However you can reuse the products for multiple trade shows. If you go to 10 trade shows the cost will be just $75 per trade show!

The final point we wanted cover is the target audience. Usually there is some way of knowing some statistics about the expected audience. If the age, or general interest of the audience is much different than what your company usually attracts then you might want to consider if it is worth to exhibit. This is a relatively weak argument as you can still exhibit in these trade shows to increase your brand awareness and chances are you will at least be able to find a handful of people who are interested in your company that will make it worth your time. Ultimately, this arguement is only valid if you are understaffed and really can not afford to spare your resources for an exhibit that is potentially much less valuable in comparison to the other things they could be doing.

This article is part of a series designed to help companies prepare for trade shows called All About Trade Shows. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave one below. In addition, Kendall Press offers many services beyond just print material to help you prepare for trade shows and similar events. If you would like to learn more about how we can work together to ensure the best presence for your company, please contact us by clicking on the button below!


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5 Ways to Drive Trade Show Traffic

All About Trade Shows: Attraction

In this series we talked a lot about specific products and services to help maximize your effectiveness at trade shows. The topics helped you better attract people and maximize the efficiency of the time you have with potential customers so you can generate leads. In this article we’re going to take a step back and talk about one general topic, attracting people to you. We will discuss not just products and services that will boost your visibility, but also what you can before the trade show in terms of both preparation and design so that people actively come to you, or want to come to you when passing by.


Presentation is a topic we brushed on multiple times when talking about products you need to have. To recap, you need to look professional and there are certain minimums you need to look professional enough to attract passersby  who don’t know you. The basics that you need are listed in our Trade Show Starter Pack, from promotional products to banner stands, but we want to expand more on design. One extremely common design flaw is not making what your company does obvious. Very few people will take the time to enquire about your business without being able to at least get somewhat of a grasp beforehand. Not to mention the business you might miss out on from people who might actually be interested in what you have to offer but end up obliviously walking by.

If you have more room to work with, there are two things you might want to consider. Having a place where people can sit or stand to talk face to face with someone about something specific can be greatly beneficial in both generating and converting leads. This area can look more professional and welcoming with a small curved hop up. If you have even more room to work with, consider having a seating area just outside or inside your reception. This is a simply and extremely successful tactic for engaging potential customers as people always tend to look for a place to rest at trade shows. If that place just happens to be filled with some items that reflect your company, all the better!

Raffles, Giveaways and Mini-Games

Never underestimate the power of simplicity. We have talked about using social media giveaways and other ways to engage people previously. Raffles are somewhat unique in their simplicity. Of course you can make entering and qualifying as complex as you want, but at the end of the day, the easier it is to participate in something, the more likely people will participate in it. The most successful raffle we’ve seen was in a fair where a company had a raffle for a $100 American Express giftcard. You just had to sign up with your name and e-mail at the booth and your name would be entered, near the end fair a winner would be picked and they would be given the prize there and then. They were easily the most popular booth at the venue! Of course if you wanted to make sure that they aren’t giving you fake e-mails or if you wanted to narrow down the winners to leads that have a higher chance of being converted into customers there are a number of different options. For example, you can make the winners be announced later and require them to interact with at least 1 of 3 e-mails targeted towards the leads generated at the tradeshow.

Another example is having a venue mini-game or puzzle. This could be as simple as a fill in the blank puzzle with clues located at different booths. We have seen hosts create this type of game and ask the participating booths to sign up but this is something you can do yourself. You don’t have to be limited to the hosts of the fair! If you know a few people participating in the fair, collaborate with them to generate prizes and you will end up significantly increasing your traffic at minimal cost! There are two major points to consider when choosing who to work with in such mini-games,

  1. Are the leads you are going to be generating from your partners similar to your target audience?
  2. Is there a risk with the chosen partner? (i.e. are they competitors?)


Food is a sure-fire way to attract people. Using food to drive traffic towards you is seen less often in the US but it is an extremely popular technique in other regions! We’re not saying dish out a full buffet at your booth, but if you’re a catering company, bring in a few samples. Your company does not even have to relate to food to use this technique, for example if you are a company that’s originally from Switzerland, have a plate with some swiss chocolate bites. This will not cost much and is a tested method of driving traffic towards you.

Floor Decal

Kendall Press Floor Graphics

This method might not work all the time since you are limited by the venue and their restrictions, however it’s always worth it to ask if you can use floor decals around the venue. This method is extremely low maintenance as all you have to do is set it up and let it work for you!

Before the Trade Show

This is an aspect that is often overlooked. There is more that you can do to prepare for your next showing than just having the proper equipment. Reach out to your customers and let them know that you’re going to be having a booth. It’s important to use all your channels together. Beyond just preparing your booth and making sure nothing is overlooked, create trade show specific offers. Make sure to use your channels to reach out to your customers to let them know about the offers and discounts that they can receive if they come to your booth. In addition, make sure that the design of your booth has space to promote any trade show specific offers!


This article is part of a series designed to help companies prepare for trade shows called All About Trade Shows. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave one below. In addition, Kendall Press offers many services beyond just print material to help you prepare for trade shows and similar events. If you would like to learn more about how we can work together to ensure the best presence for your company, please contact us by clicking on the button below!


Have a Question? Contact Us!


Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

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