Trade Show Messaging: Increase Target Audience Leads

Display booth games and flashy demonstrations are fun, but what you really want are profit-generating leads. Good messaging practices can im...
Natalie Kienzle
October 5, 2022
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Trade show messaging is most effective when it’s planned with a specific goal in mind. Messaging from a new company that’s just trying to get noticed is different from an established business looking for long-term customers. Having a clear target audience in mind is one way to start. 

Trade show messaging is a form of marketing that uses written, spoken, and visual communication to attract clients. Messaging begins before the trade show starts through press releases and other social announcements. Communication continues through the length of the show and even beyond with the use of post-show follow-ups. 

Find your target audience and see what trade show messaging practices best suit your business goals. 

Trade Show Messaging For Marketing

As a marketing tool, informative messaging is needed if you want to attract the right kind of people to your trade show booth. Your message is a reflection of your brand, products, and services so you want to make sure it’s on point

Clear messaging begins with clear goals. Before any kind of trade show exhibit design is put together or an email template is drafted, you need to research your target audience.   

trade show messaging as attendees line up at a booth

Finding Your Target Audience

Trade shows can be fun events for both marketers and attendees, but the bottom line is that your company is there to generate leads for revenue. It pays to be selective when attracting trade show attendees to your booth.  

Ask your marketing team to consider the following questions during the planning phase.

  • What demographic do most former or current clients fall into?
  • Are you looking to attract dedicated buyers or influencers to attract new markets?
  • What social media platforms are current clients more likely to use?
  • What kind of clients do your competitors attract?
  • Are any of your current products or services trending?

The answers you come up with should directly impact not just your messaging choices, but your entire trade show booth design. Having the right look is just as important as having the right words. 

Timing Your Messages

You’ve likely heard the phrase – timing is everything, and as cliché as it is, it’s also very true. Send messages out too soon and the hype dies down before the show even begins. If you wait too long, you might not be noticed in time or lose out to a company that was more aggressive in its promoting strategies. 

Frequency also matters, so make sure messages for customers don’t get overwhelming or tedious. It’s a good idea to plan ahead of time how you plan on using messaging before, during, and after a trade show. 

Convention center lobby with people riding the escalator up and down the second floor


Failing to announce your presence at special events like trade shows means you’re missing out on the opportunity to attract attendees to your trade show display before they even see it. 

Simply announcing your presence, however, also isn’t enough to make you stand out. If you’re a start-up seeking angel investors, your brand means nothing without some information behind it. A cool logo will only attract so much attention. 

Information you put out before a trade show should include:

  • What your company has to offer in products and services
  • Offers that may be specific to the upcoming trade show event
  • Investment opportunities (if you are seeking any)
  • A recognizable theme that will continue on the trade show floor

Large companies can also fall into the trap. Relying on past success is a great way for your hungrier competitors to swoop in with something new. Going into every trade show with something new – or at least newly marketed, will keep current clients interested and attract new potential leads. 

Established companies can still generate hype through the following practices: 

If you build up an email list, you can continue to send out information specific to your company and its presence at upcoming events. Something similar is possible through social media when you get people to follow or join your company’s social page. 


Once the trade show is underway, messaging efforts should ramp up. In many ways, everything you or your sales representatives do at a show should in some way relate to messaging. Effective trade show marketing is all about getting messaging right. 

Drafting a welcome message for a trade show combines all of your pre-show promotions with the events that will actually be taking place. Your message can be a banner displayed at your booth or something that goes out through SMS and email for attendees that might be participating virtually.

Messaging should be purposeful in all aspects of your setup, including:

  • Graphics and color choices
  • Placement of banners and video screens
  • Main talking points used by sales reps
  • Typefaces of printed materials
  • Chosen swag products
  • Music selections
  • Outgoing messages via text for announcements during the event

Your marketing team should have established a clear call to action before the event began. With it, it’s possible to design messaging custom to the trade show goals already established. Whether you’re heavily promoting a new product or looking to establish a new business with a strong brand message, trade show messaging matters. 


Your follow-up communication after a trade show event just might be the most important part of messaging. The entire purpose of participating in a trade show is to generate new business in some way. However, most trade show attendees don’t make deals or purchases at the event itself. 

In fact, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), it takes about three and a half meetings to officially close a sale that started with a lead at a trade show. If you generate enough leads during an event, that means your sales personnel should be very busy in the weeks following an event. 

Some of your messaging will depend on how you plan to follow up. While email is the most common, there are benefits to approaching leads from multiple angles. 

Follow-Up Methods by Popularity*

Direct Calling68%
Face-to-Face Meeting42%
Social Media27%
Direct Mail25%
Source: DisplayWizard / *Surveyed exhibitors could select multiple options

In the same survey, only 1% of exhibitors claimed they never followed up with leads after a trade show. If nothing else, that should convince you of how important messaging is after a show is over. 

How quickly you get in touch with the people you connected with during a trade show indicates your company also takes customer service seriously. Any information you gathered from the lead should be used when contact is made again. 

Even if you collected hundreds of emails, just taking the time to use the contact person’s name provides a personal touch. Even if you don’t think a lead has serious potential, something as simple as a thank you letter can make a surprising amount of difference. 

The rising popularity of face-to-face meetings also highlights that people are eager for interaction after being limited to virtual interactions for the better part of two years during the height of Covid-19. 

Large hallway with people walking back and forth

What are the Best Messaging Platforms For Trade Shows?

Deciding what platform to use when designing your messaging can be overwhelming because there are so many to choose from. The truth is that effective messaging uses multiple platforms. Trade shows actually highlight the importance of messaging variety. 

A quick look at almost any trade show reveals a wide variety of messaging methods being used at the same time. From video presentations to QR code displays, you’ll see it all being used in a variety of ways. 

Some of the most frequently employed messaging services include: 

  • SMS Messaging: Attendees are able to sign up for text message announcements and updates with their personal phone numbers. You can use this system during a trade show to announce daily events such as raffles or live demonstrations. 
  • Display Graphics: Visual displays allow companies to play off a variety of themes rather than rely solely on their logo. Graphics can be created to highlight a new product, seasonal items, or other significant events tied to the products being offered
  • Email Marketing: Email is still the number one way that businesses follow up with clients. Any trade show display that isn’t taking the time to collect emails from leads is losing out on a powerful profit tool. 
  • Video: If you aren’t able to perform live demonstrations of your products, a well-made video can hook an audience’s interest. These can be played on screens at your display booth or made accessible on personal devices through a scannable code. 

Most likely, your company is going to use a combination of these messaging services. In any case, no platform should be used without proper development of the message itself. A showy display that provides no meaningful information isn’t worth the investment. 

Protect Your Displays With USA Trade Show Shipping

However you chose to display your company’s message, USA Trade Show Shipping is here to help. We have shipped displays of all shapes and sizes to conventions all across the United States. 

Looking for help with setup and breakdown services too? USA Trade Show Shipping offers customizable service packages to meet your needs. You can have peace of mind knowing that your investment is being taken care of. 

Call us today at (866) 415-8986 to speak directly with a representative who can recommend services based on your needs. 

Already know where you’re heading? Request an online quote and get your show on the road. Trust USA Trade Show Shipping to help you get your message to the world. 

Need help shipping your trade show booth and materials? Fill out a short form or give us a call and one of our trade show specialists will answer your questions.

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