Trade Shows – how to use large events for your customer relationship

Trade shows, congresses and big conferences are booming. You can only realize a real return on investment if you are very selective in deciding for or against an event.

In this article you will read how to use trade fairs and similar big events in your right target group for you as a power channel, and what mistakes you should avoid.

What is trade show marketing and why do I need it?

I regularly see billboards announcing about a new fair or a trade show in the city. And it actually raises a question: Who sells their products/ services at such fairs? Who buys them? Can it be really new and exciting opportunity for my company as well?

I wanted to know what marketing has to do with trade fairs. How does it actually work and why do I need it? We can basically approach a trade show from two angles, as an exhibitor with a stand and a presentation area on the one side, and as an attendee on the other. 
There is a solid reason why a company would want to participate actively in a trade fair as an exhibitor: you instantly become visible for the target group who arrive to attend the fair. You can learn a lot of valuable information just presenting your product and basically talking to people who are your potential clients.
Being an active attendee at a trade fair you contribute significantly to your marketing because fairs not only enable you to have massive overview of the market segments but also allow to enjoy useful conversations with both potential customers and potential business partners literally expanding your network.

Trade fairs facts and figures

trade fairs facts exhibitors

The Colleagues at Display Wizard shared the findings of their Trade Show Trends Report saying that roughly 2/3 (64%) of alltrade fair exhibitors specified the quality on the part of the visitors as their main reason to participate in the trade shows.

According to a survey by Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) the companies participating in fairs should present the novelties of their products and services whenever possible while launching them at a fair, because almost every visitor to a fair is drawn by the chance to find out something new about products and services from both established companies and new players.

trade fair facts new product

4 marketing fails that you better avoid as an exhibitor at a trade show


The design of your stand looks lifeless and not really welcoming

Your stand at the trade fair is the first thing that counts, because this is the face of your company, the first that actually produces that very important first impression. It has to bring you pleasure, it has to look inviting, attractive, full of life and sense to the people who see it because they need to understand what your business is all about. If your Stand looks dull and not really consistent with what your company does you can hardly expect someone to come by and ask you something: people may be just smiling and passing by. If you do not have competence in preparation for a fair or, perhaps, just do not have sufficient time, make sure to get real professionals onboard whose experience and expertise will help create a stand that will have a welcoming look and will produce a nice impression.

No specific goal

Okay, you might think that the most important thing is that there is your company name on the stand and you kind of make a statement. However, stepping onto the trade fair ground without clear understanding what you what to achieve, you will face difficulty estimating what you have benefited from participation in a trade fair. What do I do (measurable and feasible) to generate maximum success from this fair?

At the trade fair

You literally attack the trade show visitors

You have definitely felt this before when you were a trade fair attendee. You are running passing by a stand, as a stand representative jumps out on you or shouts to you right from the standtrying to involve you into a conversation. This seems like an inappropriate and rather off-putting. By thaw, according to the survey conducted by Center for Exposition Industry Research 59% of fair visitors simply prefer interactive demos.

After the trade fair

You forget about Follow Up

Now, you have invested a lot of time and funds for your company presentation at a trade show in order to draw a good number of potential customers and business contacts. Yet, this is not the end of your mission. Do not hesitate to make a follow up call or send a follow up emailto make the effect last and bear some actual fruits.

Trade Shows are just the beginning

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4 marketing mistakes that you better avoid as visitor at a trade show


Not having a specific goal

All of us have once done something like that: spontaneously going to a trade show without any specific idea in our minds. It often leads to the trade show itself being enormously overcrowded and not giving us, as visitors, any clear results. Therefore,think meticulously on how you prepare for your visit. For instance, learning the exhibitors’ directories and schedules, and makingarrangements for business meetings with people who interest you is already a half of the battle.

During the trade fair

You involve in every conversation

It’s never going to stop: the exhibitors that are pulling visitors to their stands in a really obtrusive fashion and are sucking them in boring conversations. Treat your time with common sense because your absorbing capacity is not unlimited. Learn to cut short such attempts, while the same time staying polite and saying something like “No, thanks, I do not really need it right now”.

Conversation is all about what the exhibitor has to offer

No doubt, there are many products and services that are really awesome and worth talking about. But remember that the goal of your visit to an active trade show visitor is not only to update yourself on all the novelties but also to try selling what you have to sell, in other words, letting people know about you and your company. If in the course of conversation the exhibitor keeps talking about their own business attempting to sell you something, then feel free to intervene (politely and with common sense) and skillfully drive the course of the conversation leaning your side, logically connecting the exhibitors products and services to the context of your company’s activity.

After the trade fair

You forget about Follow Up

Apart from the tickets you pay for to visit a trade show, you also invest your time to get to know your potential customers and partners. Do not make people you get acquainted with wait for your follow up call for too long, because, as is known, procrastination brings loss.

Placement of trade fairs in terms of marketing activities

trade fair funnel

Trade show marketing in the whole funnel

The range of activities that you undertake in terms of trade shows participation belongs to the area between the top of the funnel and top and the middle of the funnel.

The purpose here is related to the marketing activities which have the capacity to draw attention of potential customers to your company and solutions you offer through your products.

Immediate effect vs sustainability

Trade show marketing does not typically generate a strong stimulation/encouragement to buy as compared to sales activities themselves.

As soon as the activities related to the trade show marketing are comprehensible in a broader context, in the course of time the effect will increasingly enhance through its influence on other channels.

trade fairs impact sustainability
trade fairs portfolio

Categorization in Channel-Portfolio

When you create your brand portfolio by the channels and campaigns, then all the steps of your brand community building will typically serve its main purpose, which is to help your brand image seeds to mature in the minds of your customers.

In conjunction with the nets thrown and spears aimed with precision this channel works at its best.

4 often underrated tips and hacks of trade show marketing

Do your homework

To have a beneficial effect from the trade show marketing activities you have to know your target audience. Who are the exhibitors, and who turn out as visitors, what are their business agendas. You can gain some info by looking at some recent trade shows related to the area of you business activity and decide for yourself in what events it is more reasonable and beneficial to take part as a exhibitor and in what events you can participate as an exhibitor.

Let your target group know you are coming

As the decision is made to go out for a trade fair event find the way to inform your target audience, – be they exhibitors or visitors, – that you are going to take part. You can already effectively arrange early appointments using the existing platforms (social media).

Nurture your contacts

Trade show events can also help create bonds and nurture personal relationships because they provide an opportunity to actually talk face to face without hiding behind PC screens. So this channel provides a better chance than other channels to start building and enhance your connections with both potential customers and business partners.

Evaluate your trade show activity

Resting on the real data, evaluate your progress taking into account your goals, to understand what you gained from the trade show participation, what lessons you learned, and what you can do better at your next event.

Trade show marketing comes down to these numbers


The amount of influence (the trade show effect scope) is measured by social buzz that expresses actual and potential consumers’ emotion, energy, excitement while sharing info about trade shows and relevant topics in various platforms.


The activity of your target group actually serves as your meter depending on the platform, it can be likes, shares, commentaries, retweets and so on.

Market sentiment

Sentiment is measured by the number of positive and negative comments from the target group.


The reach encompasses not only trade shows themselves with the number of fans and followers but also the number of mentions in any social media.

Get going

So, we recognized that marketing through trade fairs can be a really exciting channel. Using a clearly structured research you can easily understand whether you can participate in a trade fair event as an exhibitor or as a visitor.
Marketing activities carried out during trade fairs settle at the top of the funnel. Pay attention to the fact that your complementary company portfolio is absolutely important for both the medium-term effect and a sustainable effect in terms of launching collaboration with new business partners and, of course, new customers through this very channel.

And now: take a first step outside, and find out what fair trades would be thrilling for your target group and what fairs they have already attended or are willing to attend.

About Me

As a founder and entrepreneur, I experience every day how important customer centricity is for companies.

Integrate the essential customer perspective into your product genesis and marketing processes. That puts horse powers on the street, until it runs.


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