Strategic Marketing: A Check List

There’s no denying that even two decades into the 21st Century, companies continue to recognize the high marketing and investment value of showcasing at a trade show—an interactive, visually-arresting way to push your company’s agenda, culture, and, of course, products or services to your industry’s target audience, and all within an immersive environment that already has their rapt attention.

But to make sure your company receives an optimal return on the time and budgetary investment you have allotted to showcasing at trade show or expo, be sure to go through this handy strategic marketing check list each and every time.

1. Map Out Your Goals

Always identify what you seek to gain from your participation with trade shows. Is it to promote your brand to an existing or new audience? Do you have new products to launch? Do you need a specialized set of attendees to see your products or services? Mapping out your goals ahead of time allows you to better plan your steps to attain them.

2. Choose to participate only in the right show(s)

Quality is always better than quantity, so attending or exhibiting at a few good shows is often more productive than doing all of them. Make sure to select just the industry shows that will be beneficial to your bottom line—because, let’s face it, not every show is worth doing. And while you’re there, considering expanding your participation by also offering up panelists and speakers from your company, letting others know first-hand that you represent experts of your industry.

3. Go big or go small?

Do your plans for a specific show require a larger or smaller footprint to fully represent your brand? Depending on what you want to showcase (and, sometimes, how often), you may want to know ahead of time what kind of booth you’d like to have. And, while you’re at it, take a good look at the show floor map in advance to select the best location for your booth. A great location could be the difference between good and bad foot traffic or even the kind of positive or negative impact a neighboring company’s exhibit might have on yours.

4. Select a reputable exhibiting partner to realize your vision

Choosing the right designer and builder for your important exhibit is one of the most critical steps you need to take. We just so happen to have a pretty great recommendation for all your trade show and event needs!

5. Plan and Prepare

Proper planning well in advance before you show up at your booth is of utmost importance. Aside from the usual print collateral, business cards, and maybe even some branded swag and freebies to give away, make sure you’ve got knowledgeable staff on hand that can answer questions with confidence and authority. Brainstorm out-of-box ideas that could be implemented at the booth.

Later, make concrete plans for all aspects of the booth that also allow for some flexibility during the run of the show. Set aside appointment times during trade show hours for one-on-ones with existing clients or new ones. Prepare a few formal presentations in case they’re needed.

Basically, prepare for any and all possible scenarios that may come up during the show.

6. Promote and Publicize

Stoke excitement around your presence at an upcoming show. Send out e-blasts, blog posts, short videos, and press releases to publicize your offerings and your booth location. Harness the power of online views with curated posts on social media channels. Consider publicizing a give-away or a prize to attendees if they stop by.

7. Collect Data

Trade shows are a great way to collect names, numbers and email addresses for potential leads. Electronic check-ins at the booth or using apps for lead capture helps with this. There’s also an old-school method: have attendees and visitors drop a business card in a fishbowl as an “entry” for a prize. A selfie booth that attendees can step into and enter their email address to email themselves their photo is another way to capture data.

8. Have a post-show plan

So… you’ve collected and met new contacts. Now make sure to follow up quickly and make yourself readily available so that your company and your brand remains fresh and top-of-mind for all those potential clients when you reconnect! Internally, conduct a post-show meeting with all staffers involved to discuss everything that took place at the trade show. Make pro/con lists, hold freeform discussions, and determine what needs improvement or even what needs to be abandoned for the next show. What was successful? What was missing?

9. Don’t be afraid to add more to this very checklist

Sometimes, inspiration can strike anywhere at any time. Don’t hesitate to add items to your checklist to make sure your booth is the best possible representation of your brand or product.


Michael spent the past two decades as a senior-level designer and art director with an emphasis on high-end branding, packaging, and targeted advertising. For Star, his responsibilities include graphic design, social media communications, client agency services, copywriting, web design/development and administration, and PR. You can reach him at