4imprint, LLC

| Updated: January 08, 2021

According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), B2B exhibitors allocate 41 percent of their marketing spend for trade shows. That’s a big piece of the budget, so it’s important to make the most of your time on the trade show floor.

The phrase “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” definitely applies to trade shows. The more prepared you are, the better your chances of having a successful exhibit. Be ready for anything with these helpful tips and some trade show swag to save the day when things don’t go as planned.

Be prepared when the unexpected strikes

Here are some potential trade show pitfalls and ways to deal with them:

Location, location, location

When it comes to the position of your booth, location is everything. It helps maximize brand exposure, increases your face-to-face meetings, and ultimately affects your chance to make a sale. If you find yourself too far from the action, in an overly congested area or next to a competitor, you may feel left out in the cold. Don’t fret—make the most of any location with some clever trade show swag. Hand out a part of a two-piece giveaway at registration and invite attendees to stop and see you during the show. Sunglasses and a case make a great choice—hand out the case at registration and tell them to stop by your booth to get the sunglasses. You could also do this with a pen and notebook, or a coaster and tumbler.

Staff shortages

Whether you’re understaffed due to illness or a rush of booth traffic, being shorthanded can stress your team out. One way to mitigate the problem is to make sure all participating staff is fully trained on the company and its mission, the goals of the show, and your organization’s products and services. It may also be wise to keep employees “on call” while they’re out working the venue and meeting prospects. Logo’d badge holders with a phone compartment not only identify your team, but they also help ensure staffers hear your call or text for help.

Subpar swag

Everyone likes getting freebies at a trade show. But giveaways for the sake of giveaways serve no purpose. Choose trade show swag that aligns with your company and the show. Think pill-box kits for healthcare providers or floating key tags for boat dealers. Line up prize draws in the same way: A bike shop could raffle off a hydration backpack, or wine label may hold a contest to win a collection of wine tools. When in doubt, appeal to the masses with practical promos they’ll use regularly, such as charging cables and phone stands.

MIA supplies or display

Forgetting important supplies or discovering the display you had shipped won’t arrive on time can cause a lot of added stress. If it’s supplies you need, check with the people running the show. Sometimes there is a store on site. If not, a local hardware or office supply store is your next best choice. Displays that don’t arrive on time pose an entirely different problem. If you can, bring a few display banners with you—many are lightweight and include a carrying case for easy travel.


Preparation is key to a successful trade show. Keep these tips and some helpful trade show swag on hand and reap the rewards of your hard work.