A Marketers Guide to Trade Shows for 2020

Remember a number of years ago when the press was saying that trade shows were going the way of the dinosaur. Well guess what? They’re baaaaaack!

There is no question that the great recession took a toll on the trade show industry. All that seems like ancient history now as tradeshows have become vibrant again, offering opportunities to connect in meaningful ways with customers and prospects….if you can get their attention.

It’s helpful to think of tradeshows like any other marketing campaign which means you have to Plan, Attract, Engage, Follow Up, and Analyze. Here are some helpful thoughts and tips!


“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)

  • Begin holding planning meetings with marketing and sales participation 4-6 months ahead of a tradeshow.
  • Review what went well in the past, so you can build on that success, and what went wrong, so you can learn from it.
  • Set goals (i.e. number of meetings, leads generated, presentation attendees) and figure out how you are going to achieve them.
  • Part of achieving the goals will involve promoting what is new (i.e. new products, a service program) and part of it will be based on the creativity and diligence of your sales and marketing teams.
  • Messaging in the booth (signs, videos, etc.) will need to be changed/prepared to synch up with the themes and promotions.


"The healthiest competition occurs when average people win by putting in above average effort." (Colin Powell)

  • You must never forget that you are competing for the attention of your prospects with all the companies at the conference – not just your competitors.
  • Unless you are a new company your efforts will be split between reconnecting with existing customers and attracting prospects.


  • Don’t take your customers for granted. Have your sales people invite them to stop by the booth or join you for lunch or dinner.
  • Sometimes having a customer advisory council around or during the meeting will give you the opportunity to gain valuable insights from your best customers on how your company is perceived and what you can do better.
  • Marketing can tease customers with what they will see at the conference and/or offer an incentive (i.e. free gift) if they stop by the booth. (Close coordination between marketing and sales is essential.)


  • Your sales staff can set up appointments with identified, high-value prospects ahead of time to maximize their opportunity to convert them to customers.
  • Marketing can work the trade show list (direct mail, email) and conference advertising opportunities to tease new products, etc. and drive booth traffic.
  • Don’t forget to feature your Trade Show Schedule, with Booth Numbers, on your website.


“It’s showtime” (Betelguise)

If you have done all your planning well the tradeshow itself will be more about execution. That being said:

  • Hold a pre-show meeting with the sales team to make sure they are comfortable with the new products, show themes, promotions, customer gifts, etc.
  • Encourage a sense of camaraderie within your sales team. While they compete with one another they are on the same team and should do everything in their power to help one another out.
  • Remember all the promotion doesn’t take place before the show. There are lots of opportunities for marketing to sponsor break areas, have advertising on elevators/escalators, advertise in the conference program, etc.
  • Hold a recap after each day to see what’s going well and what needs tweaking.

Follow Up

“Not following up with your prospects is the same as filling up your bathtub without first putting the stopper in the drain.” (Michelle Moore)

  • After the exhaustion of a tradeshow it’s easy to make the mistake of moving on without properly following up with the leads that have been generated.
  • Marketing should identify and record all the leads generated and distribute them out to the sales teams ASAP so they can “strike while the irons hot”.


“In God we trust, all others bring data.” (W Edwards Deming)

  • At some point you are going to have to justify the rather significant expenditure associated with each tradeshow. These discussions are always made easier if you can show an ROI.
  • Check how you performed not just in terms of ROI but in terms of all the subsidiary goals (meetings, demos, leads, etc.) that led to your actual performance.

In Summary

Tradeshows are a great opportunity to meet with customers and prospects face-to-face. In today’s world where cold calling and direct marketing are becoming ever more challenging, tradeshows provide a high-leverage moment to change the dynamic in the relationship with customers and prospects. With careful planning, execution, and follow up tradeshows can be one of your most effective sales/marketing tools.

SFA Marketing can help you get the most out of your tradeshow by coming up with strategies, offers, sales tools, videos/animations, and tradeshow booths that help you get results. Feel free to contact us at [email protected].

See Our Capabilities

We know every business has its own sets of challenges around marketing budgets and resources. We’re here to help – whether it’s fiscal year marketing planning or a targeted attack you need ASAP. Let’s get down to business.

Ready to get started?


We’re a talented group of creative and business people from diverse backgrounds with unique strengths. Together, we’ll make your marketing that much better.

Our team has been working remotely for the past 2 weeks and while we weren't sure how we were going to make it work, one thing is for sure, WE ARE MAKING IT WORK! This is an example of great team work, how we turned around a simple request for a graphic into a LinkedIn targeted campaign to turn leads into new costumers. Way to go team! #thenewnormal #workinngremotely #teamwork Client: Sonics, LinkedIn targeted campaign promoting their PPE upcoming webinar. . . . #webiar #PPE #marketingagency #marketingonline #marketingplan #marketingtools #marketingteam #marketinglife #b2b #digitalmarketing #digitalstrategy #marketingstrategy #marketingsolutions #marketinghelp #crisis2020 #coronavirus
b2b digitalstrategy digitalmarketing
According to Forbes, during this time of crisis, companies will press pause for a moment, take a breath, assess the situation, replay and reevaluate. Our team has been working very hard with our clients coming up with new ways to re-think their marketing efforts and adjust their messaging during this difficult time. Stay strong. Stay healthy. Stay safe. Client: Stamford Tent, PPC campaign about their Medical, Emergency Response, & Disaster Recovery Tenting services . . . #PPC #PPCcampaign #lanidngpage #recoverytent #marketingdigital #marketingagency #marketingonline #marketingplan #marketingtools #marketingteam #marketinglife #b2b #digitalmarketing #digitalstrategy #marketingstrategy #marketingsolutions #marketinghelp #crisis2020 #coronavirus
lanidngpage ppc b2b
DIGITAL MARKETING TERM EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW: CTR (Click Through Rate) – the percentage of your audience that advances (or clicks through) from one part of your website to the next step of your marketing campaign. It’s the total number of clicks that your page or CTA receives divided by the number of opportunities that people had to click (ex: number of pageviews, emails sent, and so on). Although having an attractive website is half the battle, what good is it if the user doesn’t have a clear path of where to go next? We have experience in making it easier for your target consumer to interact more with your website. See how we can Increase your click through rate using our expertise in reporting and analytics, where we review traffic data in order to tailor your messaging and persona models to potential customers. Check out our link in bio. . . . #clickthroughrate #marketingcampaign #reportingandanalytics #analytics #interactive #marketing #marketingprogram #marketingresearch #capabilities #marketinganalytics #marketingdigital #marketingagency #marketingonline #marketingplan #marketingtools #marketingteam #marketinglife #b2b #digitalmarketing #digitalstrategy #marketingstrategy #marketingsolutions #marketinghelp
marketingresearch marketing b2b
Get to know your audience with some help from us. Embrace engagement by working with our capabilities in PPC, SEO, and marketing automation. We can help advertise your brand online or use third-party integration so even more users can get involved with your brand. Curious to know more about these buzzwords and what our interactive team has to offer? Click on our link in bio . . . #ppc #seo #marketingautomation #thirdpartyintegration #interactive #marketing #marketingprogram #marketingresearch #capabilities #marketinganalytics #marketingdigital #marketingagency #marketingonline #marketingplan #marketingtools #marketingteam #marketinglife #b2b #digitalmarketing #digitalstrategy #marketingstrategy #marketingsolutions #marketinghelpsbusiness
ppc seo marketingresearch
“Here's to strong women, may we know them. May we be them. May we raise them”. Don’t forget to celebrate the wonderful women in your life today! #iwd2020 #WeAretheWomenofSFA 💪🏻 An equal world, is an enabled world 🌎🚺 . . . #internationalwomensday #marketing #capabilities #analytics #googleanalytics #marketinganalytics #marketingdigital #agencylife #marketingagency #marketingtips #marketingplan #marketingsocial #marketingtools #marketingteam #marketinglife #b2b #digitalmarketing #webdesign #digitalstrategy #marketingstrategy #seoproblems #socialmedia #marketingadvice #marketingtipsandtrick
internationalwomensday googleanalytics iwd2020
Keeping customers coming back will continually result in a greater ROI — and it costs 5-25X less (Hubspot, 2019). We all know how important it is to market your brand towards attracting potential consumers, but what about your current ones? Retaining your customer base while engaging new consumers can help grow your business exponentially. A way to do that is by making sure your digital marketing strategy is strong, and what better way to ensure that than to work with us. Check out our link in bio to see how we can help your brand thrive as its fullest. #happyfriday . . . #strategy #marketing #marketingprogram #marketingresearch #capabilities #marketinganalytics #marketingdigital #marketingagency #marketingonline #marketingplan #marketingtools #marketingteam #marketinglife #b2b #digitalmarketing #digitalstrategy #marketingstrategy #marketingsolutions #marketinghelp #marketingsales #sales
sales strategy marketingresearch
Connect with us