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Secrets of a Trade Show Exhibit Company

Last month, one of our favorite clients asked Crux Creative, a leading trade show exhibit company, to help them create a special exhibit to market their services. This exhibit was to be used at the International Cheese Technology Expo in Milwaukee, WI, and then in various industry shows around the country. Crux’s assignment was to assist with the development of a theme as well as the creation of graphics, pre-show and post-show communications, giveaways, and booth activities for the show. We’re happy to report that if the crowd’s reaction to the booth at the Cheese Tech Expo is any indication, our client can expect a significant increase in their business this year!

1. Go where your clients are

If you provide a business-to-business service, you can connect with current and potential customers and check out your competition by exhibiting at trade shows for your industry. However, you can also try something that may seem counter-intuitive. Namely, participating in sector shows entirely unrelated to your own business but where potential customers may be exhibiting and visiting.

For example, they were not in the cheese industry, but since they’ve designed and built booths for several companies exhibiting at the International Cheese Technology Expo, they decided to exhibit there, too. By having their own booth at this show, they were able to demonstrate their services to a prime audience that might not seek them out on their own. As a result, they had several orders from new clients before the show had even closed!

2. Tell people what they want to know

Many trade show exhibitors seem to assume that showing pictures of their products under the company logo will be enough to attract visitors to their booths. But that premise ignores rule one of marketing – sell your product’s benefits, not just its features.  Tell your prospective customers how your product will make their lives better and their businesses more profitable than they are right now.  Exhibit Systems did this with a simple wordplay on a quote from the American classic fantasy film – Field of Dreams. Their headline and product promise was “If we build it, they will come.” Simple. Direct. And precisely what an exhibit company’s client wants to hear.


3. Create a way to interact with customers

Trade shows are all about meeting and connecting with potential buyers.   But while these events are ideal for opening a sale, they are not necessarily the best places to close one.  That’s why contacting booth visitors within a week or two after the show is essential. Yet, during the show itself, you can still start developing a positive rapport with booth visitors by engaging them in fun, easy, rewarding, and memorable activities.

Exhibit Systems’s activity was in keeping with its baseball theme – a Wii Baseball game. Corny? Maybe. But it was also a crowd-pleaser. Everyone wanted to watch as other people played, bragged about their performance, or teased their friends about theirs.  People walking by the booth and hearing excited chatter, laughter, and occasional cheering stopped by to see what was happening. Soon, they were trying for a home run, too. If they scored one (a relatively easy thing to do), they were invited to compete for a free mini-iPad by putting their business card in the container.  But the prize was the icing on the cake.  Being able to “play” during work time made everyone feel like a winner.

4. Raise expectations before visitors even arrive

Pre-show communications shouldn’t just let customers know where your booth is but also create a sense of anticipation about visiting. Whether you send out postcards by snail mail or email, make a remarkable landing page for your website, or develop a social media campaign before the event, mention the fun visitors will have at your booth and your product’s benefits.  In the case of Exhibit Systems, we did all of the above, and people came expecting to have a good time, which they did.

5.     Don’t forget to put the “show” in trade show

If they’re done right, trade show exhibits should have a sense of magic to them. Of course, the products and services presented are serious, but theatrical entertainment should still be in how they’re displayed. In the case of Exhibit Systems, the booth looked like a baseball field, complete with batters playing the Wii game.  Adding to the effect, everyone from Exhibit Systems wore a baseball t-shirt with the words “If we build it, they will come” on the front and the company logo on the back. The result? It was everything a trade show exhibit should be – attractive, engaging, intriguing, and fun.

6.     Follow-through

Now that you’ve put on a great show, it’s time to reap your reward. Regardless of how you get new prospects’ names and contact information from the list of exhibitors and visitors – whether from business cards you’ve collected or by some other means – this is the time to set up appointments to turn inquiries into sales.  You might offer to bring a gift to a one-on-one meeting at their office or perhaps a free sample of your wares to reinforce your message. Whatever you do, keep the conversation going so that the impression you made at the show remains and is deepened with every contact.

We hope these suggestions will help you prepare for your next trade show. We know they worked for Exhibit Systems and we’d love to make them work for your business, too. Call us at 262-885-6084 to see how we can help you.

Michele Allen

With over 30 years of design and marketing experience, I founded Crux in 2005, a 360° Creative and Marketing Agency, catering to Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, and non-profits. Specializing in experiential spaces, museums, brand development, and digital marketing, I excel in crafting memorable experiences while emphasizing the significance of authentic brand communication. I offer expertise in Brand Development, Trade Show Exhibits, Museums, Corporate Spaces, Interactives & VR/AR, and Digital Marketing, committed to tailored support and guidance.


  • Rachel says:

    Having an interactive feature in the booth is a smart idea. It allows you to engage customers and keeps them in your booth. It will also leave a lasting impression. I’ve been to a couple of trade shows and the booths I remember the most were those that had some form of activity or engagement strategy. Thanks for sharing the tips!

  • Selbys says:

    One thing that has been very effective for us as a business is to promote our booth before and during the trade show.
    It is normally:
    1. An email newsletter 1 week before the trade show and during the trade show once every 2 days.
    2. A Facebook status update before the show to build up the anticipation and during the show to keep the energy up.