4imprint, LLC

| Updated: January 06, 2023

Are you new to the trade show floor? Or are you considering re-joining event marketing after a long hiatus? The outlook for the trade show industry is good. Brian Casey, President and CEO of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), predicts an increase in trade show growth during the next few years. And the majority of marketers (99 percent) believe trade shows still offer a unique value they can’t find elsewhere.

But let’s face it, getting started with trade shows can be daunting and even intimidating. This e-newsletter offers several pre-show tips and guidelines to help you succeed. From developing checklists to coming up with conversation starters to perfecting your elevator speech, you’ll be on your way to being well-prepared for your time on the floor.

How to prepare for a trade show

Promote your presence ahead of time

Pre-show promotion increases the chance of converting a visitor to a qualified lead by 50 percent. Begin your pre-show promotion a couple months in advance by reaching out to contacts and registered attendees via email, direct mail and even a phone call (to your best leads). Let customers know the name and dates of the show you’ll be attending, the booth number and your contact details. Send a two-part gift to incent attendees to stop by. For instance, mail only the cap of a USB drive or RSVP pen with lanyard. When attendees stop in, they get the other half of their gift.

Create checklists

Trade shows are full of details. And although the hope is everything will go right, many things can go wrong if you’re not prepared. Developing cheat sheets helps. For example, outline everything you’ll need to bring the day of the show, such as booth setup instructions, logo’d table covers and displays, brochures, business cards, office supplies (like pens and paper), technology and giveaways. Like the Boy Scouts say, “Be prepared!”

Come up with conversation starters

First impressions matter—you have only a matter of seconds to connect with a prospect or lead at a trade show. Use that time wisely by developing a list of insightful questions to initiate a meaningful conversation related to your industry. For instance, “Do you know how 3D printing works?” Or, “How familiar are you with wearable technology?”

Perfect your elevator pitch

Has anyone ever asked you what you do, and you freeze? Sometimes, the ins and outs of what we do for a living are so intuitive it becomes difficult to put into words when caught off guard. A well thought elevator pitch should outline the benefit of what you’re selling, your differentiator, and “the ask,” or asking for a meeting if the person you’re pitching shows interest. For example: “I work for XYZ loss prevention. We provide safety and security to businesses with access control systems. And unlike most of our competitors, we install, maintain and provide training on our systems. Would you like to grab a coffee and find out more?”


A good day at the trade show takes a little preparation and planning, especially when you’re new to event marketing. Checklists, conversation starters and a prepared elevator speech can help you make the most of your time on the trade show floor. Best of luck!


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