Trade Show Marketing Best Practices

Trade Show Marketing Best Practices Trade shows and events are staples of construction marketing, and often one of the top budget line items. On the brand side, manufacturers exhibit at industry events and might participate in networking events.

Most brand manufacturers manage an extensive trade show program exhibiting at multiple shows for key markets. No question trade shows are one of marketing’s biggest budget line items including exhibit construction, storage, transportation, erection and space rental, not to mention staffing and travel expenses.  Below we will why trade show marketing can fail and trade show best practices, including promotion, customer interaction, and measurement.

While trade show investment is high, often results measurement is weak or lacking. Why? Because more often than not, exhibitors rely on card readers for the sole measure of lead and results, trade show booths lack customer interaction, and little or no pre-show or at-show promotion or communication takes place.

Still, trade shows can attract thousands of customers and prospects, along with editors, channel partners, prospective employees and other important contacts. For certain categories like construction equipment, trade shows are critically important to allow for product demonstrations, client meetings and entertainment. In addition, trade shows are typically produced with conferences, educational workshops, and association meetings that offer additional opportunities for promotion and networking.

Many marketers in construction markets have reduced trade show marketing budgets, most often by eliminating certain shows. To increase your chances of success, follow these trade show best practices:

Trade Show Marketing Best Practices


Be sure to properly promote your exhibit via pre-show and at-show communications. Often trade show producers will provide email lists of registrants, some free of charge. Certainly, email and contact customers and prospects prior to the show, with your exhibit location, invites to hospitality events and related. Prior to the show, schedule customer, prospect and editor meetings.

Customer Interaction:

Be sure to enhance customer interaction with attractive exhibit design, graphics and video. Create a “buzz” before and during the show with promotions, contests, celebrity appearances, hospitality, and entertainment events.


As mentioned before, results measurement at trade shows is typically weak or lacking. Be sure to measure trade show results via MULTIPLE mechanisms:  card readers, contest registrations, editorial placements, sales personnel notes and more.


Below is and example of a CMA STAR award-winning trade show exhibit design from Hilti. Hilti took home the STAR award for trade show exhibit design.

Hilti Exhibit Design

To view all CMA STAR Award winners, read CMA STAR AWARDS – 2012 Winners Announced


Do you have any tips/suggestions for trade show marketing? Please let us know in the comment box below and share this post using the social bookmarking tools below!



  1. Ryan Key

    To extend on the measurement best practice, I would send a follow up email (if your collecting emails) the day after the shows ends. Something like “It was great meeting you at the show, when would be a good time to talk more about our “insert product or service?”

    This keeps the conversation going.

    1. Lindsay (Post author)

      Great point Ryan! You should definitely follow up


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *