Tag Archives: Pre-show Mailings

Tradeshows Do Work If Exhibitors Get Training (& Organizers Should Help)

Expo, conference and trade show organizers – do you really want to help prove that “trade shows don’t work”?

Trade Shows Work — When Done Right

I sometimes tell people – “it’s very easy to prove that ‘trade shows don’t work’.  You just do what way too many people do: don’t plan in advance, show up without pre-show marketing or training, and expect miracles”.

On the other hand, trade shows DO work if you do them right:

IF you have done a bit of homework to come up with a plan,

IF your booth is well designed (by a large format graphics designer, not a brochures or web site designer ),

IF your folks know how to work a booth, and

IF you’ve planned your followup in advance.

Plus include booth presentations and/or promotional marketing, or however it works best for you/your industry.

It will take more work, but it makes all the difference in whether exhibiting is an expense or an investment.

The Role of Show Organizers in Exhibitor Success (or Turnover)

As for those who organize shows?  If they do not offer some kind of support, especially to those who are new to trade shows, they are asking for higher exhibitor turnover.

I can’t imagine why more organizers haven’t figured out that it’s easier to create and keep satisfied exhibitors by having them well prepared than to try to get new ones to replace the ones who did them poorly and won’t return.

And yes, I have often given pre-show training.  The problem with some shows that do this?  They offer it the day of the event or a few weeks before, which is almost worthless except to remind people not to chew gum or sit down in their booths.

A webinar series some time in advance of the show would be the best idea to account for geography/time constraints.

Note – I’m writing this entry based on an answer I gave to a LinkedIn question on whether trade show organizers should offer support to their exhibitors.  Obviously I gave a definitive ‘Yes’!  And yes, we provide such trainings because it breaks our hearts to see money essentially wasted on great booths and exhibit design because of no or poor tradeshow strategy, preparation and training.

For anyone needing to get a better idea about how to exhibit, who does not have access to such support or training, take a look at this page and find specific areas for help:

Tradeshow Tips for Effective Tradeshow Exhibiting.

Or give me a call if you need support proving that tradeshows DO work.  I’ll be glad to help.


Deborah Elms is head of the Trade Show and Event Division of Imprinted Originals.  She is passionate about helping businesses and organizations create and retain customers through the effective use of trade shows & other face-to-face events.



Congratulations! You’re planning ahead on how to improve your trade show marketing.

Now.  How to get prospects into your booth?

First, a few no-no’s we’ve mentioned in tips before:

  1. Don’t create a moat between yourself and attendees with a table at the front.
  2. Don’t let your staff sit down, huddle together or otherwise signal disinterest.
  3. Don’t let a graphics designer without large-format experience design your booth like a giant sales brochure!
  4. Don’t expect the tradeshow or conference organizers to do all the work attracting YOUR prospects!

What to do to instead of “showing up and waiting”:

Be proactive!

Send emails or postcards so clients and prospects know you are exhibiting.  Include information about what they can expect to see and learn about by visiting your booth, and any special offers.    Even if they do not attend – this still provides you with a “because” to reach out to clients and prospects with relationship-nurturing contact.

Be targeted as well as proactive!

Use pre-show mailers with a puzzle piece or a part of a gift to all or selected prospects. To claim their prize, they must come to your booth. These techniques are proven to attract not only more prospects, they help you ensure that you see your preferred prospects, if done properly.

Be demonstrative!

  • Create an interactive or educational environment
  • Hire a professional presenter
  • Bring in an entertainer, buy a game wheel, or create a “quiz show”

Create buzz with your booth!

For one client, we designed a 20 foot booth that featured a 50’s cafe on one side, complete with old-fashioned tables and chairs, and a “drive-in movie theatre” where demonstration videos where shown on the other.  It was the exhibit that “everyone had to see” at its show!



Inspired by a trip to the largest promotional products tradeshow on the East Coast – ideas for more impact for YOUR brand at YOUR trade shows (besides the booth):

#1 – Electroluminescent Illuminated Branded Apparel

Definitely an “eye-catching” idea: a T-shirt or Cap branded with your logo in lights which flashes to the beat of your selected song!

“The next big thing in branded outerwear” – shirts and caps with integrated light technology to flash designs or text in a predetermined pattern.  Custom or standard designs.  Minimum quantities required.

Available for certain thin illuminated display applications in booth design as well.

#2 – The WOW! Customized, personal “concierge” service branded just for you!

Turn your booth visitors (or other prospects and clients) into VIPs with the WOW! Card, which provides customized “concierge” service, branded not just with your visual logo, but also your name and 2 messages within each of their calls for assistance!

Recipients call a toll-free number to access live personal assistants 24 hours a day, with the response branded with your company name and book-ended with your customizable greeting and closing messages on every call.  Your recipients will keep these cards close at hand and then use them to call for on-the-spot answers.

For traveling tradeshow visitors, think how appreciative they will be when they can get nearby restaurant recommendations and reservations, hunt down tickets for sporting events, and get gate or flight updates.  Not to mention, settle bar bets or get directions to the rental car lot when they’re running late!

Still not sure what it’s about?  Go check it out for yourself here – WOW! Branded Personal Assistance.

Be sure to sign up for a complimentary demonstration … and if you need help thinking about what to ask – here are examples of popular requests.

#3 – Ideas which are not brand new but are still cool, and definitely bring folks into your booth:

* All kinds of things to help your traveling prospects cope with life on the road … including folding maps with location-specific information on one side, and custom information about your company, products or services on the other.

* Puzzle pieces sent in pre-show mailings, to be checked against a “prize board” in your booth.  Choose how many “grand”, “second place” and “consolation” prize pieces are sent out.  (And select prizes your target customers will want to collect!)

* Non-slip grips for cell phones and other electronics will be kept for the life of the object.  Now available with “recovery-for-reward” tags with over 85% of lost items recovered, at no added cost, and no annual fees or charges for end users.

* Completely custom ideas – which we can source reliably for you.

Of course, you can always call or visit our website for additional ideas!

And if you still haven’t taken a look … go on, check it out – WOW! Concierge Cards