Improving Trade Show Returns on Investment

by Gregg Crystal Aug 14, 2014

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As a manufacturer your company most likely invests large sums of money into trade shows.

They are a great way to get exposure, build relationships in the industry and get leads. 

But, the investment for attending trade shows is expensive, and if you plan on visiting several of them in a year, the costs add up quickly. 

There are ways to improve returns from trade show investments and in today’s post we’d like to share some tips that have helped past manufacturing clients. 

Email Marketing Tips for Improved Trade Show Returns

Regular contact with your potential and new leads is extremely important in eventually turning them into closed sales for your company. Given our experience, here are some ideas to help you do this effectively:    

  1. Start an email campaign at least a month before your trade show.
  2. Follow up with another email every week to suggest visiting the trade show, talk about what you’ll be presenting, and where your location will be at the event.
  3. Add a page to your site for each trade show- where visitors can sign up to get updates on the trade show before, during and after the event.
  4. Be sure to send emails during the trade show to share what has happened at the event, your excitement for what’s coming up, to encourage more visits and get more time with your lead.
  5. Add new leads to the current trade show campaign as quickly as they leave their information at your booth- do not wait until after the event.

The before and during email campaign is particularly important because most other attendees will miss this opportunity. It is simple enough to schedule ahead of time, but the occasional ‘real’ update will be appreciated by your followers and subscribers. 

Of course, if you find this to be overwhelming you can set up a campaign with a marketing automation program like Marketo to handle this campaign while you are attending the event.  This can be automated and you can even add criteria to have subscribers contacted if they visit all of your links, read all of the emails, respond to an email or visit you at your booth. 

Social Media for Trade Shows

Large numbers of manufacturers and their possible clients are on social media, and it shouldn’t be ignored. Updates and pictures during a trade show should bring even more interest to your company. 

Before the event start talking about how you’ll be attending, and use hashtags to describe the event. Share links to the event, and especially links to your landing page where you’ll send email updates about the show. 

During the event, be sure to update your accounts often, use hashtags and post pictures from the event. Specifically focus on Twitter and LinkedIn - two of the best places to get exposure for your business to business brand.

Improving Returns After Your Trade Show

Follow Up With Leads

The first thing you need to do after the trade show is follow up with any leads you procured during the event.

Make sure they are entered into your lead nurturing program, as well as your CRM (unless they are integrated) so that you can keep track of your connections and discussions. 

Segment and Nurture Leads

Setting up a campaign in your marketing automation program for the leads you just gained from the trade show is a great way to segment them. Segmenting these leads give you the opportunity to keep a separate campaign for them and to be unique in your discussion with them. Use the topic of the trade show and your experience there to nurture them. 

Blog About Your Experience

Your blog is a great place to write after you’ve attended a show. Subscribers will appreciate an update about the event, some detailed information about how it went and insider information only you can provide them. Be sure to share this with your email subscribers and on social media. 

Follow Up On Social Media

Connect with any brands and people who mentioned you during the event on social media once you are home from the event. This is a great way to follow up with people and build possible business relationships for the future. 


As you can see there is a lot you can do to improve your results from a trade show. You’ll be tired, and busy, but these small implementations will make a huge difference in your ROI. If just one more person becomes a client- how much will that improve your results? 


If you’ve got any questions about how any of these steps work, leave a comment below, give us a call, or send an email. We’ll do what we can to explain and help you on your road to better trade show returns.

Download Quick Tips For Inbound Marketing and Lead Nurturing