The Email Marketer’s Guide to Working a Trade Show — 8 Rules for Success

John W Hayes
4 min readNov 6, 2018
Image by eddie howell on Unsplash

I have a love/hate relationship with trade shows. On the one hand, I love the opportunity to walk the floors, learn from my industry peers and network with like-minded people — many of whom I only ever get the opportunity to meet at trade shows. On the other hand, regardless of whether I am attending the event as a delegate or an exhibitor, trade shows are such hard work (long days, endless pitches, mad dashes to and from the airport, time away from the family, etc.).

Expensive Marketing

No matter how you look at trade shows, there is one thing I think everyone can agree on: They are expensive in terms of the time and money you need to invest in them.

Note: Regular readers of this blog will know I don’t believe in expensive or cheap marketing. There is only marketing that works and marketing that doesn’t work. However, in the case of trade shows, I make the assumption that they are expensive for most organizations because the organizations attending them don’t work them to their full potential.

Bad Trade Show Experiences

I have attended too many events where employees staffing booths are not suitably qualified to be placed in such a high-profile public role.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been ignored by an exhibitor who was more interested in their smartphone or laptop, too busy chatting with their colleagues or fellow exhibitors in the neighboring booth, or just too bored (or occasionally too hungover) to care.

How many people cannot be bothered to smile at you as you walk past and say “hello”? How many exhibitors turn their backs on you and appear disinterested because they don’t instantaneously recognize you as a red-hot lead? Conversely, how many people jump on you because they only see you as a red-hot lead?

Some people just weren’t built to work at trade shows.

With this in mind, I’ve created a set of rules that I insist be followed every time I take a team to a trade show.

8 Rules for Working a Trade Show

  1. An email always goes out prior to the event, encouraging customers, prospects, and…
John W Hayes

Marketing Strategist, Author of #BecomingTHEExpert, Content Marketing Trainer, and Cyclist. Check out my author profile: