10 Tips to Maximize ROI at Manufacturing Trade Shows

Tradeshows are a popular sales, marketing and branding effort in the Manufacturing world. While many industries have moved away from spending money on setting up booths, many manufacturers continue to tout tradeshows as an effective way to get out their brand name, showcase new products, nurture relationships with existing customers, and build relations with new prospects.

What hasn’t changed in 20 years is the need to prove that money spent on tradeshows turns into revenue for your company. I’ll be writing plenty more about this topic in the coming weeks, but today I offer you 10 ways to maximize ROI at your upcoming tradeshow.

#1: Press Release – Creating a press release to be distributed online is essential. It should include the basics like keywords that are relevant to your products or services, along with a link back to your website. But it also should address:

  1. If you’re exhibiting at the tradeshow, give the booth number and tell attendees what they can expect to see from you.
  2. If you will demonstrate new products. Are experts at your booth showcasing your widgets? Give prospective customers a reason to stop by.
  3. If you’re available to meet with the media. Trade publications and local reporters assigned to cover the show may look for exhibitors with whom they can connect. Make it easy for Reporter X to set up a time to chat.
  4. If you’re unveiling a new product at the tradeshow. A great way to generate buzz for your company and to pique the interest of current and prospective customers.
  5. If someone from your company is speaking at the show. Many shows have a conference component, so if a salesperson or the VP of product development will be discussing industry topics, be sure to let your audience know.
  6. I caution you to limit tchotchkes, but they’re pretty much a guarantee at most tradeshows. If your company is giving anything away for a promo or holding a drawing, make sure the giveaway is something of value and relevant to your company. Too many items end up in trash cans. Tchotchkes can guarantee you booth visitors who come by to grab your wind-up toys, but you’re there to get qualified leads.
  7. Offer a discount code – unique to your company – for anyone in your industry who might want to attend the tradeshow.

My journalism professor used to say it like this: Tell ’em what you’re gonna tell ’em, tell ’em, tell ’em what you told ’em, then shut up. To say it a little nicer: write the press release telling readers that you’re attending the tradeshow, tell them what to expect from your company, then… stop.

#2: Home Page CTA – Create a noticeable call-to-action on the home page of your website that tells visitors – current customers and prospects – to visit your tradeshow booth. You can include the discount code from the press release here, too, to incentivize attendees to check out your products in action or be wowed by your latest product in person.

#3: Use Paid Search – Begin bidding on tradeshow keywords with your PPC budget. While the focus of this PPC campaign is to merely connect your company’s name with that of the tradeshow, you’ll want those who do click through to put their email address into a form on the landing page. So offer something of value to get their email: a whitepaper, guide to the tradeshow, your industry newsletter, etc. Make sure all copy is tailored to tradeshow attendees with clear calls-to-action.

#4: Blog! – Write a blog post about your attendance at the tradeshow before you go, and write another post once you return wrapping-up the event. This gives you fresh content on your website, chances to plug in relevant keywords, and showcases your industry expertise.

#5: Spread the Love – Circulate those blog posts on your company’s social media channels. B2B marketers should focus on LinkedIn, as this is a great place to show industry connections what’s going on with your company. Have your employees – especially salespeople – post the blog to their personal LinkedIn pages, too.

#6: Get It All on Video – Is your company spokesperson speaking to an audience or conducting interviews with media at the tradeshow? Record it on video and post everything to your company’s YouTube channel. If you don’t have a YouTube channel, create one today. This valuable tool isn’t just for teenagers who want to watch skateboarding dogs. 

#7: Save the Trees – At every tradeshow and conference I’ve attended, I inevitably walk away from some booths with loose papers that end up in the hotel trash can at the end of the day. Stop giving literature out to every passerby. If someone is a qualified prospect, get their email address and offer to send them all the information they’ll need after the show … so they don’t have to carry it. And so it doesn’t end up in the trash can. Best of all: you’re building your email list.

#8: Relationship Building – Are company partners or vendors attending the tradeshow? Stop by their booths and introduce yourself. Putting a face to the name gives you the opportunity to strengthen your company’s relationships.

#9: Don’t Forget Those Who Got You Here – Schedule time to meet with existing customers at your tradeshow booth. A bonus tip: schedule time to meet with prospective customers at the same time. Many times your happy existing customers can be a natural selling tool for prospects.

#10: It’s Time to Break Bread – If you have an email list of qualified prospects, host a breakfast before the tradeshow kicks off to discuss a topic of interest in your industry. If you advertise in an industry trade publication, consider asking the publisher to co-sponsor the breakfast for additional publicity. This is a great way to establish your company as an industry thought leader.

Next week, I’ll discuss more tips for maximizing manufacturing tradeshow ROI in the digital world, focusing on email and social media.

I’d love to read in the Comments section any tips you have on maximizing tradeshow dollars or any questions you have about tradeshow promotion in the digital world.


Maximize your event marketing investments with 21 Tradeshow Tips for Manufacturers:

21 Tradeshow Tips for Manufacturers

About Fathom Team Member

One Comment

  • myfairtool says:

    Thank you Jen, all is here!
    Booth promotion is essential, planning appointments (contact your existing clients, serious prospects, etc.) is important to best use your time and drive additional traffic and keeping video track of everything is great advice as well!
    I particularly like the comment about “Save the trees”: at myfairtool we believe in digital paperless solutions and this is definitely an important point! Give up your pamphlets: not only it saves the planet, it is also better for you (less printing + logistics expenses, more flexibility, real tracking) and your visitors (less stuff to carry around for no purpose).
    Thank you!

Leave a Reply