12 Innovative Trade Show Collateral Tips for Small Businesses

Note: This article was filed by a paid contributor to Xerox Corporation.

Exhibiting at a trade show can be a substantial investment of time and money, so it’s important to make sure you get the most from your efforts. Here are 12 tips for successfully marketing your business through print at an industry trade show.

Plan a marketing communications strategy weeks before the trade show:

1. Set measurable goals

Attracting a nice flow of visitors to your booth is great, but similar to getting a lot of “likes” on social media, it doesn’t necessarily accomplish anything unless you know what you want those visitors to do. Set specific goals for the show such as securing a certain number of orders, collecting a specific amount of qualified leads or setting up a series of sales calls; then create your show marketing plan inclusive of collateral, giveaways preprinted with your corporate logo, based on those attainable goals.

2. Get situated

Print out a show floor plan as soon as it’s made available and reserve the best booth space you can afford and distribute to the staff who will be on hand at the event. Ideally, you want a location near a high traffic aisle and on a corner; this will drive maximum visits. Being near a food station also ensures plenty of passersby. Also, position a multifunction printer (MFP) within your booth onsite to provide document management at the event.

3. Promote the event online

Set up a landing page or web portal on your website with information about the event and your exhibit, including your booth number as soon as you know it. Also mention any events you are hosting or participating in, such as after-hours meetups or panel discussions. Prepare collateral for panel discussions and roundtables attendees. The individuals who attend these sessions predetermine which events they’ll attend and expect tangible takeaways. Promote the event on your social media accounts using the event’s hashtag. Buy online ads targeting people who are searching for information about the event.

4. Prepare your marketing materials

Print twice as many business cards as you think you’ll possibly need. You should design print marketing materials that will stand out in the piles of collateral show attendees collect. Xerox has free templates you can use to design and print brochures, postcards, flyers, CD/DVD labels and more for your trade show handouts.

5. Train your trade show staff to maximize the presence of your business

An understaffed booth will undercut your efforts. Select staffers who are enthusiastic, energetic, friendly and knowledgeable. Make sure they understand your predetermined goals for the show and how you want them to use your marketing materials to achieve those goals.

6. Reach out to attendees before the event starts

Some trade shows provide lists of registered attendees before the show. You can also ask around on social media to see who else is attending. A month or so before the show, reach out to key attendees and schedule time to meet up at the event for coffee and a chat.

7. Get attention with giveaways

As a trade show veteran, I can attest—everyone loves freebies. For best results, however, make them useful and practical. Good quality pens and notepads, for example, will be used long after the show and keep your business top of mind. One popular giveaway I’ve seen recently is designer water bottles emblazoned with your company logo. Contact a Xerox Partner who offers Direct to Object printing. When show attendees see someone carrying the bottle, they’ll ask where it came from—and head over to your booth. Another smart and practical giveaway is lightweight tote bags with a logo consumers use to carry groceries.

8. Engage attendees with contests

The old-fashioned “business cards in a fishbowl” approach is a good way to gather contest entrants’ contact info. Amplify your contest by building social media into the entry process. For instance, have attendees take a selfie in front of your booth sign or wearing some logoed merchandise and share it with appropriate hashtags to enter the contest.

9. Plan for print needs

Did you run out of handouts? Do you need to print something special for a prospect? Be prepared for any print eventuality with the Xerox Mobile Print Solution. It locates printers within a public print network using GPS and maps, and then securely sends the print job to that location. Xerox ConnectKey Mobile Apps let you print or scan from your mobile device without connecting to a network.

10. Get social

Assign someone to manage all your company’s social media for the day to ensure a consistent presence. Be sure to use the show’s hashtag and your company hashtag in all posts. Boost awareness of your business on social media by taking pictures with other attendees at your booth or at events and tagging them in your posts. Live-tweet quotes from event speakers; like and retweet other attendees’ tweets.

11. Follow up – fast

You should plan to contact new connections 24 to 48 hours after the event ends, while your interaction with prospective customers at the event is still fresh in their minds. Speed up the process (and ensure you don’t lose valuable contact information) by digitizing contact information right away. Input it at the booth using a tablet, or use the Xerox® Mobile Link App to scan business cards with your mobile device and send the information directly to the cloud. The Scan to Cloud app allows you to scan all of those loose cards directly to your cloud-based email account, simplifying the connection process with cloud email services such as Google Mail / Gmail and helping you grow your contact list easily and efficiently. Use the Xerox dealer locator to find a Xerox channel partner who can show how easy it is to use Xerox mobile print at your next trade show

12. Track your expenses

Though the benefits are sure to outweigh the cost, there is no denying that the expenses related to your participation are going to add up. Xerox is making it easier than ever to track and organize them with Web Capture Service, which simplifies document management by triggering scanning automatically via an easy to use browser plug-in. That’s right; no more scanning, storing, naming, searching. Just scan your receipts, mileage and other documents directly to your application. It even allows you to scan multiple files at a time thanks to the ‘follow-me’ scan repository. Web Capture works with any brand of scanner and is compatible with a wide range of applications, from Salesforce to Quickbooks, making it the perfect tool to help you better track your expenses.

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