Trade Show Marketing: How to Attract & Engage Your Audience

Exhibition expo show

If you’re reading this, you probably already know that trade shows are one of the most effective forms of marketing you can do. They’re a great way to get up close and personal with potential customers, generate leads and sales, and build brand recognition. 

Like all forms of marketing, success depends on being noticed and generating interest. At trade shows, those two goals are almost entirely dependent on the design and appeal of your booth. This involves elements that go beyond just making it as pretty and flashy as possible. 

Read on to learn more about what it takes to attract and engage your audience at your next trade show. 

Bringing Attention to Your Trade Show Booth

When you’re attending a trade show, you only have a couple of seconds to capture the attention and interest of your audience before they move on. Creating eye-catching trade show displays and being in a high-traffic location in the venue can help bring attention to your booth, but there are also other ways you can generate interest. 

Start With an Invitation

One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make with trade show marketing is concentrating too much on the actual show and not preparing the ground for success both before and after the event. 

What do you do when you’re planning a big party or wedding? You most likely send out invitations. And not just any invitations, you send ones designed to make people want to attend. It works the same with trade shows. Sending out pre-show invitations by mail or phone to prospective customers can greatly increase attendance at your booth. 

To make your invitations even more attractive, include special offers and freebies that can only be redeemed in person at the show. Give them enough notice to make plans, and don’t forget to follow up with them after the show.

Use Social Media to Spread Awareness

Using social media to attract customers

Speaking of invitations, don’t forget to use your social media accounts to their fullest potential. Build interest and excitement about the show and your booth by putting out a couple of tweets or Facebook posts each day starting a month or two before the show. Don’t forget to include special trade show promotions in your posts.

Here are some additional social media tips:

  1. Drive visitors to your exhibit with social-only content. Giving your exhibit visitors the opportunity to earn an entry to a giveaway by sending a tweet or tagging you on Instagram can be a great way to get your prospects involved, build your social media following, and attract even more visitors to your booth.
  2. Use social media to interact with other exhibitors. When you see other exhibitors using social media, respond to their posts. Their followers will get early exposure to your brand, and they’ll get the same boost from your followers, at no cost to either of you.
  3. Keep excitement building during multiple-day events. If your event is spread over a weekend, generally people who can’t attend on day one are eagerly watching coverage in anticipation of their attendance on day two. Posts like “Here’s what happened today, can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring!” will definitely keep your prospects interested.

Make sure to follow up on social media after the event with pictures showing the great time you had, the wonderful people you met, and where the next show will be.

Prioritize Creative Designs

Here’s where the flashy and pretty part comes in. Your trade show booth will no doubt be surrounded by boring exhibits with nothing but a few tables and maybe a sign or two. So, your job is to get creative and stand out from the pack. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. 

If you’re not the imaginative type, consider bringing in the professionals at GraphiColor to help you brainstorm ideas. Our designers and marketing experts have decades of hands-on experience in planning and building successful trade show booths, and they can do the same for your business.

How to Keep Visitors Engaged at Your Booth

Attracting your target audience is just one challenge of trade show marketing—you also need to know how to keep them wanting more. Here’s how to keep them on the dock long enough to hear your pitch.

Get Your Sales Team to Manage Your Booth

Any warm body can stand there, smile, and hand out brochures and hand sanitizer. But to generate leads and sales, you need talkers. Staff your booth with your most outgoing and personable employees, especially the ones who know everything there is to know about your products and services. They’ll be able to provide expert answers to questions and persuade prospects that they need what you’re offering. They’ll know how to stay focused and targeted on your goals.


Everyone loves free swag, and free stuff is a surefire way to bring people in. But try to use utility-based items that people will actually use and hang on to for a while. Focus on low-cost and practical items that can be used for years, like totes, magnets, drawstring bags or backpacks, phone accessories, and thermoses. That way, your brand and contact info will always be in sight, and they’ll think of you when they have a problem that you can solve.

Create an Immersive Experience

You can also add elements to your trade show exhibit. That could be something as simple as some comfortable chairs and a bank of phone chargers or as advanced as gamification using interactive visual displays. Product videos can draw a crowd when they’re interesting and engaging. 

Additionally, filling out polls and surveys is a good way for your audience to learn about your company on their own, keeping them in your booth longer and prompting them to ask questions. Make your immersive elements fun, interesting, and useful while always keeping your overall goals in mind.

Offer Product Demos

Lastly, people have different ways of learning. Some people learn and retain information best when they can pick your product up, touch it, feel it, and see it in action. Product demos help to make your trade show exhibit a physical experience that they’ll remember. If you can’t actually demonstrate your product or service on the spot, a well-produced video or virtual presentation is the next best thing. Remember—seeing is believing.

Get More Trade Show Marketing Tips from GraphiColor

Is this your first time attending a trade show? Get more trade show marketing tips and professional advice from our team at GraphiColor. Our designers, builders, and marketing experts have over 40 years of combined experience and can help you create a successful trade show booth.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our team members.

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