Setting Goals to Maximize Your Trade Show Presence

Trade shows can be a valuable way to create deeper connections with current customers and engage new customers to build your database when approached with a goal mind set. Understanding what constitutes “success” for your company is essential to ensuring your trade show strategy aligns with your organization’s overarching goals. Consider where your products are in their life cycle to help you set an effective strategy.


  • Setting SMART Trade Show GoalsGenerate new prospects – be specific in the number of targets you think are attainable, develop 1-2 questions the sales team can easily use to help qualify the leads, make notes in your lead generation software or scanning app.
  • Showcase the breadth of your product line to increase share of spend with current customers – set up a pre-show strategy with the sales team to drive this conversation in the booth; determine what would motivate customers to buy more products from you.
  • Unveil a new product – to effectively launch, it requires months of pre-planning, it’s never too early to get started even if all the product details aren’t hashed out; develop your strategy and flush out your tactical approach.
  • Build brand awareness – depending on the competitive landscape for your company/product, you’ll want to make sure you know what your competitors are up to – check out their social media posts, how are they positioning themselves, what is their website saying, what size booth do they have at the show; take all of this into account when creating your show strategy.
  • Product education: host one-to-one or small group education or demo sessions in your booth (what’s the point of being face-to-face if you can’t make it a rich, hands-on experience); consider how to demo key products or think about incorporating an interactive media strategy to drive deeper in-booth engagement.

Pro Tip! Once you’ve identified your goal, make sure it’s SMART (Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Results-Oriented. Time-bound). Learn more about setting SMART goals here.

Once you have a clearly articulated goal, you can focus your booth design, marketing tactics, and engagement strategies to help you achieve it. Here are two examples of common trade show goals to and engagement strategies to support each.


  • It’s all about buzz! Generate excitement with social media and email marketing promoting in-booth demo opportunities and draw traffic with prize drawings for demo sign-ups (remember to engage your sales team for lists of leads they are working so you reach active prospects).
  • Create a press kit and invite media for official unveiling; distribute press releases to industry publications two weeks prior to the show (this accomplishes two things – allows you time to make follow up calls to pre-schedule interviews and greatly reduces the odds you’ll get lost in the barrage of releases journalists receive just prior to the show).
  • Invite your key publications to conduct interviews in the booth; make sure you have at least one executive on hand to be interviewed. Journalists are busy so to get coverage make sure your team is ready and prepared.

Pro Tip! It helps to draft key talking points for the person being interviewed to make sure the message is exactly what you want it to be. Focus on the most compelling benefits for your messaging, features won’t sell like benefits. Also, ask to do a quick run through so the person being interviewed can gather their thoughts ahead of talking to the media.

Setting Goals for Trade ShowsDuring the show
  • Offer hands-on demos or interactive activities (leverage AR and VR). Let attendees be part of the action rather than just watching.
  • Staff your booth with personnel well-versed in the new product or service (be extra mindful if inviting media for interviews).
  • Schedule on-site demo opportunities (sweeten the offer with a giveaway or have refreshments on hand to create a social atmosphere).
  • Create a dedicated landing page describing the new offering and drive all visitors to this page (the page should have a clear call-to-action like download our new product brochure, schedule a lunch and learn session about the new product, order a sample).
  • Follow up on all leads to the landing page (make sure the promised resource gets to your customer and, if deemed a good lead, have a salesperson reach out to extend the conversation).
  • Use social media and email marketing to follow up with booth visitors AND with those who missed demo opportunities.
  • Extend any giveaways or in-booth promos for those who missed your booth, but complete an inquiry form.
  • Ensure captured in-booth leads are divided among sales for personal follow up, especially any on-site demo requests (marketing can send a thank you email to kick off the conversation and if you know who their sales rep will be, the list could be segmented and include their sales contact for a personalized approach).


  • Prepare booth staff by setting a measurable (and attainable) goal for lead generation during the event – what number will constitute a success?
  • Develop 1 or 2 questions that can be used to help qualify prospects (make sure to capture notes in the lead scanner or app).
  • Understand what challenges or pain points you can help your customer overcome and use that knowledge to create relevant messages for your audience.
  • Reach out to prospects in your pipeline to personally invite them to visit your booth – give them a reason to stop by with a special gift or exclusive offer.

Pro Tip! Personalize your pre-show outreach. Use your show invitation to ask questions so that at the show you can engage that person in conversation about their unique challenge or answer any issues they raised. If possible, arrange sales meetings, lunches and/or dinners with key customers prior to the show.

During the show
  • Host in-booth activities that require people to provide their contact info (drawings for an enticing prize; interactive games; photo booths).
  • Hold demo sessions or use interactive media to show your products (set up in booth demonstrations, animations, customized apps, which can be used by the sales team aside from the show).
  • Always focus on product benefits for your customer, how does your product make things easier, faster, more efficient, offer better performance, innovation, and more.
  • Design a specific area in your booth where your staff can have a quiet space for one-on-one conversations with prospects.
  • Capture relevant information about a prospect so that your sales team can access it before following up. More knowledge can help shorten the sales cycle.
  • Ensure you have plenty of printed materials for prospects to peruse and take with them.
  • Leverage lead-retrieval technology, from scanners to smart phones to capture data for follow up.
  • Did you know that 80% of exhibitors don’t follow up with their show leads?? At a minimum, set up a triggered email marketing campaign to reach out to booth attendees after the show.
  • To be more effective, send attendees information based on their needs and challenges, not a blast of everything you offer.
  • Prioritize the leads and customize your follow up to make sure your time is focused and well-spent on highly qualified leads.
  • Add leads to your marketing automation platform for ongoing nurturing.
  • Measure your results – did you meet the target you set?

Once the show has wrapped, evaluate how you performed against your goal. Meet with your team and discuss what worked well, what didn’t work as well, and how it could be more effective in the future. Having a team dialogue and getting different perspectives will help build your team’s engagement while helping you refine your strategy for future events.

Our experts have years of experience working with clients to achieve their face-to-face trade show marketing goals. We’re here to help you get the results you want from your next event. Contact us and let’s get started!