How to Get More Return From Your Trade Show Investment

‐ December 31, 2013

Many businesses use trade shows to market their businesses. Trade shows are a great way to generate interest and sales. There are some things you can do to maximize your trade show investment in time and money. Below are strategies with ideas to help you get the most out of a trade show.

As you prepare for your next upcoming trade show, don’t forget the benefits of direct mail. Not only can a direct mail promotion such as a pre-show mailer increase traffic to target prospects, but it can also generate sales leads, fill conference rooms and create awareness of an event and your participation in it.

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A simple yet effective way to spice up your pre-show mailer is to include a carry card. When included with your pre-show mailing, a carry card is a printed post card that your prospects carry with them and present at your booth to receive an exclusive offer, such as a small gift or entry in a sweepstakes or drawing. For example, your card could say, “Bring this card to ABC Booth #345 for a free sleeve of Titleist golf balls” or “Bring this card to ABC Booth #345 to enter to win a free iPad!”

Since the prospect will carry your card to the show, it is a great opportunity to reinforce your brand image and marketing message. Don’t forget to include your booth number/location and space for the recipient to enter his/her contact information. This is also a great time to ask the prospect’s preferred method of communication (email, phone, etc.).

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Design options for carry cards are endless. They can vary from a simple supplemental insert in a mailing or a perforated tear-away option on a folded postcard, self-mailer or brochure. If you’d like help creating a direct mail promotion that will help fill your booth with prospects, we can help you with this with turn key programs from design, print to mail. Give us a call for more information!


While a lot of planning goes into the preparation for a trade show, few companies spend as much effort during the critical follow-up period after the show is over. It becomes easy to overlook follow-up activities after returning to work and finding a full inbox of e-mails, voicemails and other deadlines to catch up on. Others assume that prospects will call them because they gave them their business card or brochure. Overall trade show success requires immediate follow-up on leads generated from the show floor.

Here are a few tips to improve your follow-up strategy:

  • Follow-up should begin before the show ends by taking detailed notes on each prospect you meet and rating them (such as hot, cold, etc.).
  • Prioritize your follow-up plan, starting with the most serious prospects.
  • While you should wait a day or so for attendees to get settled back into their offices, you want to follow-up quickly while your conversations are fresh in their memory.
  • In addition to calling every prospect you got from the trade show, a “Thank You” note card should be mailed along with your business card. It is also a good idea to include some sort of coupon to entice them to call you. An old fashioned, hand-written note via snail mail that addresses specific interests or needs the customer mentioned while visiting your booth can have more of an impact than almost any other marketing you do. Why? Because most people don’t do it anymore so you stand out!
  • Send special gifts to qualified leads that will remind your prospects about your company, such as a flash drive, flashlight or envelope opener. Avoid cheap token items such as pens as they are given out in abundance at the show.
  • Email all other booth attendees who provided email contact information (regardless if they were a cold prospect) and tell them you will be in contact in the next few weeks, unless they need to reach you sooner. Whether or not they are already in the buying cycle, you can create top of mind awareness for your business.
  • Design and print follow-up postcards, as well as a bulk follow-up email messaging prior to the trade show to save valuable time. When you return, you can easily personalize the email message and send it out.
  • Don’t assume prospects will contact you for more information, since they likely saw your competitors as well and are waiting to see who can earn their business. So to recap the above, if you want to get the most out of your trade show experience, your pre and post trade show plan would look like the following.

PRE-SHOW, The set up for increasing booth traffic.

  • Mail a postcard with your booth number & offer them some sort of incentive to stop by.
  • Collect as many identities (contact names) and get as much information as you can from talking to them as to what they need.
  • POST-SHOW, follow up, the key to maximizing your return on investment.
  • Prioritize prospects, best to worst.
  • Send everyone an email thanking each for stopping by your booth. Let them know someone will follow up with them.
  • Mail everyone a thank you card with a coupon special offer via “snail mail”.
  • Start with best prospects and start calling leads from show via phone.
  • Enter all names you got from trade show in your database along with notes you have for them from the show.

I know the above seems like a lot to do but if you made the investment in buying a booth, setting up and working the booth you might as well get everything you can from it. Most people only work hot prospects from a show and neglect everyone else. They sell to the “low lying fruit” but miss everything else.

I hope this helps you. We have good prices on postcards, thank you notes, brochures, posters and other printed materials you will need to make the most from the trade shows you do. If we can help you please give us a call at 727-536-4173.

Mark Hale


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