The ROI benefits of exhibiting at trade shows are not always obvious. Though trillions of business deals are struck on the expo hall each year, the costs of exhibiting – with travel, registration, booth fees and more – can be tremendous. 

But for those who are willing to invest, an exhibit at a trade show yields the highest ROI than any other marketing tactic. Why?  

Because trade shows allow customers, leads, and prospects to see your products in action, ask questions and get answers on the spot. It’s why B2B experts never miss a trade show.

However, in order to get plenty of deals, you have to do two things; attract a lot of traffic to your booth and leave a lasting mark on attendees’ minds. And that’s where it can get really tough. Remember that you’ll be competing for the same traffic with possibly hundreds of other exhibitors. How do you make them come to your booth and choose to do business with you?

Here are the top tips to get the most ROI from your trade show exhibit:

Get the best location

The old business adage — location, location, location – stands here just like everywhere else. Whichever trade shows you attend, the show managers will know the prime spots. If everything else was kept constant, the booths on these prime locations would still get more traffic than other booths. Ask the show managers about the best booth locations.

If you’re willing to pay more, look into this early, keeping in mind that prime locations sell fast. If possible, book the location as soon as the trade show is announced. Moreover, if you plan on attending the trade show long term, consider leveraging prime locations in your negotiations with the coordinators.

Market your booth pre-show

One mistake a lot of exhibitors make that can negatively impact booth traffic is waiting until d-day to showcase your products. By that time, your competitors will have booked appointments with all key attendees.

If you want to win the trade show battle, start setting up meetings with attendees 4-6 weeks before the trade show begins. The meetings should be held at your booth and used to get to know attendees in advance so that when the show begins, you know exactly what to show them.


Make a lasting first impression

Studies show that people form an opinion on a product in under a tenth of a second. That means that attendees will form an opinion of your booth in just one glance. Moreover, first impressions have been found to have a strong correlation with the long-term status of a relationship. If they glance at your booth and aren’t impressed, you might have lost that lead forever.

The key takeaway here is that creativity is essential in booth design. You must stand out from the rest. It can be the difference between a sale and missed business.

Wise up – trade leads!

In most cases, trade shows are highly industry specific. If it’s tractors, the show will focus on tractors and tractor equipment. This means that all the people attending will be those interested in tractors. However, it’s not usually the same type of equipment, right? There will be different exhibitors promoting different equipment, solutions, and products. So, there is a chance that a prospect will walk up to a booth and be looking for a service that booth vendor doesn’t offer.

Why not partner with these non-competing exhibitors and trade leads? Ask them to refer to your booth attendees interested in your products, and vice versa.

Follow up fast

Finally, follow up must begin as soon as the show ends. The longer you wait, the higher the chances that leads will forget about you.


Ironmark’s event design team, promo products experts and event production team can help with exhibition displays, promotional products, booth design, email marketing and more. Contact us today and let’s help you make lasting first impressions.

Written by Lynne Kingsley

Lynne Kingsley oversees the digital marketing client services team as well as the marketing strategy division for the company. Since joining the company in 2016, she has increased Ironmark’s digital presence by over 700%, establishing a new lead generation mechanism for the sales team. A certified inbound marketing professional and HubSpot agency partner, Kingsley has been helping companies transform their marketing function into fully diverse and streamlined growth engines since 2003. With agency and client-side work under her belt, Kingsley’s strategic experience spans both the B2B and B2C sectors. Prior to joining the Ironmark team, she served as in-house marketing director for several non-profit organizations. Kingsley is an honors graduate of the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University.
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