4 min read

Tips for Manufacturers to Develop a Trade Show Marketing Strategy

Tips for Manufacturers to Develop a Trade Show Marketing Strategy
Tips for Manufacturers to Develop a Trade Show Marketing Strategy

Trade shows can be one of the most valuable sources of quality leads for manufacturers.  We all understand the benefits of being able to shake hands and build trust with a lead in person.  In this post, we share how to generate a high return on your trade show investments.


Trade Show Leads & Database Management


In-person events like trade shows are great places to form a new relationship or meet with existing leads and customers to build trust.  Especially after the pandemic, folks enjoy getting back out to trade shows and seeing demo units live!  But capturing these eager leads at the show is only the first step in your sales process and their buying journey.



We see that manufacturing companies are spending between 1-3% of their revenue on marketing.  To maximize these dollars, we recommend that all marketing efforts whether it be a trade show, cold call or inbound leads are directed back to your database, the centralized location for marketing and sales.  This means that every contact is logged in your CRM, allowing us to have ongoing engagement and lead nurturing throughout the current project that established the relationship and any future projects.





4 Steps for a Highly Profitable Trade Show


Having a booth at a manufacturing trade show, like the Pack Expo, Automate Show, or the Assembly Show, is just a part of your marketing strategy. What you do before and after is crucial for your success to make sure you maximize the ROI.  Aside from developing the actual show strategy, this includes pre and post show emails and lead nurturing campaigns, the process to capture and upload leads to your database, social promotion and more.

Here are four steps in having a successful trade show:



tu1 Established Marketing Goals


When going into a trade show, have clear goals in mind that define success.  Are you aiming to bring more awareness around who your company is? Are you looking to generate qualified leads or maybe engage with existing leads and customers?  Be sure to establish your goals and best practices for engaging with leads entering the booth.  Communicate this information to your team.  Some of the KPIs to track for each show include:

  • All-in Trade show cost 
  • # of customers met 
  • # of qualified leads 
  • # of leads that moved into the deal pipeline
  • # of leads that closed as a won deal within 3, 6, 9, and 12 months

Here are some additional tips:   

  • Identify existing leads and customers that could be attending and be sure to connect with them prior to and at the show.  Automate this step by taking advantage of marketing automation tools that allow you to build and grow lists of key accounts who have attended the show in the past
  • Clearly communicate your equipment, demo units or service offering and if you can't bring a demo, consider having a clear and visual video on a TV display of your solutions.
  • Scan every lead’s badge and save notes on valid leads when you scan a badge to help you with a personalized follow-up message after the show 
  • The most helpful topics to follow-up with include the lead’s immediate pain points for a specific project and project goals



tu2 At Show Strategy: Building An Attractive Booth & Engaging Leads


The obvious part of your trade show strategy is actually at the show.  Your brand appearance at the trade show should be consistent with your business.  The booth should look like an extension of your website.  That way, when your leads arrive, they can spot you a mile away and recall your brand from your website.  

Trade Show Booths CirclePost on social media! Share and promote your booth information, your demo units and any events that you’re hosting at the show.

You can attract visitors to the booth with different activities designed to engage and inform visitors. Interactive demos or a video on a TV display could both be helpful tactics to educate your key audience. 

Overall, understand your leads and how they prefer to engage with you! Sometimes engineers and your technical audience are willing to have a conversation with you but many times they prefer to learn on their own.  Have brochures and educational articles with QR codes that lead back to your website.  Your displays and demo units should be able to be viewed from outside of your booth.   


Here are some other ideas to engage your visitors:

  • Demo solutions
  • Multimedia displays
  • Speaking events at the show
  • Hosting a happy hour
  • Games
  • Raffles
  • Handouts that address pain points


Check out WEBER’s German-themed happy hour for an epic trade show display.




tu3 Strong Pre-Trade Show Marketing Strategy


Trade shows aren't a field of dreams where you build it, and they will come. Attracting visitors takes effort beforehand and after.

This starts with pre-show emails to your existing database.  In this email, promote the demo units you are featuring at the show and have an eye-catching event at the show. For example, if you’re hosting a happy hour event, you can include a sign-up landing page to promote in the email and if they sign up, we will hold them a spot at the event with a free beer!  


WEBER Trade Show Assets


If you want a steady stream of visitors at the trade show, hype it up on social media, and your website (with a designated landing page and form for attendees to fill out).  Tell them what to expect, build anticipation, and hint at incentives like giveaways. 



tu4 Timely Follow-Up Strategies


You’ll end the show with a list of leads.  Immediately get that information uploaded into your CRM’s database.  You’ll already have the automated follow-up email written (before the show even began).  Once the leads are added, get that email sent out ASAP.  Ideally within 48 hours of the show ending.  

Then, start working on your personalized follow-up for each valid lead starting with the best.  Reference the project you discussed with the lead or maybe their top pain point.  Send them an educational article that relates to the project or pain point.  Aim to be helpful and curious about the potential project and lead.  Pro tip: Include a video from footage at the show to boost engagement and email clicks.     



The Secret That Ties It All Together


Did you catch the common thread?

The database is the secret that allows us to engage with a lead now and in the future.  Overtime the data provides insight on the best practices specific to your organizing for each trade show you attend.  The database fuels your current and future sales funnel with valuable information for personalizing your outreach.  If there isn’t a project now, your ongoing inbound marketing strategy will pop into these leads inboxes over the coming months and years - when there may indeed be a profitable project you can help with.

Ready to get started? Download our marketing strategy guide for manufacturers and start planning your next trade show.


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