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  • Writer's pictureSteve Fisher

How Can You Stand Out at Trade Shows?

Trade shows are an excellent opportunity for businesses to showcase their products and services to a targeted audience. It can be difficult to find your target audience, so showing up at an event that is full of like-minded people and customers that are looking for solutions in the category you work in is hugely beneficial. After a few years of virtual fairs due to the pandemic, live events are back in full swing.

So, you're signed up for a trade show and now you have to figure out what you're going to do. Showing up isn't enough. It takes a thought-out strategy to make a trade show worthwhile. It's all about ROI. Some companies choose the strategy of "flash". By all means, if you have a massive budget to throw at these types of events and set ups and it's on-brand, go for it! I know our typical customer falls in the small to mid-size business category so it can be difficult to allocate huge dollars to a trade show display. Here are some tried and true tips to help you get the most out of your trade show.

Good Design

Actually, let's clarify. Good, STRATEGIC, design. The booth you choose, as complex or simple as it may be, needs to be an accurate representation of the brand you are trying to build in the consumers' mind. Brand colors and logos have to be easily seen, identified, and used consistently.

Good design also means clarity. Think of your booth as a billboard on the highway. When you're driving by at more than 65 mph which billboards are most effective? Is the the billboard with a paragraph of text that you can read about 5 words of before you blow by it, or is the one with large text highlighting a few words that get down to the core of what it's about. And don't forget that massive call to action! An easy URL or QR code (not on the highway please) are great ways to get engagement quickly and in the moment.

Of any area, this is the tactic we would try to push you to spend some money on. The actual booth materials can be effective at a lower price point if the design is effective. Your main priority is to get people to stop. Your best asset is standing behind the table. You! Or another member of your team. If you can draw someone in with the design and clear communication of your booth then you have the incredible opportunity for 1:1 sales. Bravo!


Make it good! I'll emphasize again, this does not have to be expensive. It just has to be useful. People love love love their free stuff. They will grab anything on a table making you think you've been successful because your inventory is depleted. Problem is, half of that stuff that goes out of the trade show door doesn't leave the hotel room for the journey home. Unless... It's useful.

Some good options:

  • Totes - Totes might be the ultimate idea for this list. If you can afford it, attendees are looking for something to carry around the rest of their free stuff in! Your logo on the side is some nice free advertising around the conference center. And totes have an after life if they're designed well.

  • Pens - Wait. Before you go and find the cheapest pen just remember what we said about things not leaving the hotel room trash can. Cheap pens are exactly that. Think through this lens: My giveaway is a reflection of my company. Does my company dry up and not work in 2 weeks? No! Spend a little extra to get a pen that someone will use for the long haul.

  • Water Bottles - Water is essential for human life. Can't beat that!

  • Notepads - Cheap, branded, useful!

  • Stress Balls - This one never seems to go out of style. Maybe its because stress is forever prevalent? Again, these won't break the bank and bonus points if you can find a shape that matches your industry. We love a good tech company logo slapped on a brain shaped stress ball!

Digital Footprint

It has never been more important to think through a digital strategy behind your trade show appearance. You may have heard of the term "secret shopper". This is the consumer that only interacts with a brand behind the scenes. They want to get all of their information through their own research and only when they're ready to buy do they reach out to a sales member. This type of shopping has been on the rise for years and it's critical you are set up to serve this type of customer at a trade show.

The reality is, you won't talk to everyone that stops by your booth. Maybe it's because the booth is too busy, but more than likely, it's because of the habits of these "secret shoppers". These are the people that come by and grab a flyer and a business card and just keep on walking. The real work happens later when they review those materials. Of course the flyer or business card has to be effective, but the call to action on those materials needs to lead them to a digital experience that is going to do the work of your very best sales person.

Create a custom landing page specific to whatever event it is you're at. Track the custom URL to see how much traffic you're getting to the site based on the materials you handed out with that URL. Collecting and analyzing data is hugely important in figuring out the ROI of the event. A great landing page educates customers on your product or service and guides them through a "buyers journey" culminating in another call to action. Typically, this is manifested in a custom form that again, allows you to track the efficacy of your digital strategy.


Trade shows are incredible tools. They provide businesses with an opportunity to showcase their products and services, launch new offerings, stay abreast of industry trends, network with industry peers, and build their brand. By investing strategically in trade shows, businesses can generate leads, build relationships, and establish themselves as leaders in their industry. Even on a budget.

Rapid Print and Marketing has been around for over 3 decades. In that time we have helped countless businesses with trade show strategy, design, and print. If you'd like guidance or are interested in learning about booth set up options, please don't hesitate to reach out! Fill out the quote request form on our site and someone will be in touch asap.


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