Trade Show Marketing Secrets for Your Small Business

Learn the secrets of trade show marketing that can set you apart from the rest of the attendees.

Trade show marketing can be a great way for your small business to find and open new markets around the country and promote your products to those who are unfamiliar. And while we’ve talked before about the benefits and how to find the right trade show for your industry and product, there are a few trade show tips and secrets that will improve your success.

Here are a few trade show tips that will give you an edge at your next showing:

Booth Design

During small business trade shows, you want to grab the attention of attendees and participants. While your product is the star of the show, a well-designed booth is the stage for your showpiece.

Whether you build your booth space yourself on a budget or pay a specialty shop to construct your booth, keep these elements in mind:

  • Walls – First, be sure to color coordinate with all booth elements, starting with the walls. Your walls could be heavy-duty cubical material, or simple cloth stretch between PVC piping. Keep the color warm and inviting.
  • Banners – Include graphic banners for your booth display. A banner with your name and logo is great, but to stand out at small business trade shows, include graphic banners and displays with photos of your product, people enjoying your product, etc. Make them full color and put these at eye level to attract attention.
  • Tablecloths – A trade show will likely provide you with a table or two, and maybe even a plain tablecloth. But you should bring your own that complements your color scheme. White is the trade show tips top choice because it highlights the objects on top of it.
  • Flooring – Likely the trade show will be on concrete flooring. If possible, bring your own flooring. It could be carpet squares, fiberboard, or even a cloth flooring. A brighter color is also recommended, as it will help reflect light and brighten your booth.
  • Lighting – As well, small business trade shows will likely provide plenty of shadowy overhead fluorescent lighting. Consider bringing your own light stands to project spotlights on targeted areas on your display.

Use Interactive Displays

During small business trade shows, you will attract more customers with interactive displays. It could be a sample of your product that people can handle and touch, a cooking display, or even an iPod monitor where folks can use the touch screen to go through a quiz, an interactive PowerPoint, or display product photos.

Don’t Forget The Giveaways

At small business trade shows, be sure to help people who stop at your booth remember your product. Provide them with product samples, business cards, pens, magnets – whatever you think can make an impression and carries your business name and logo.

Stock Up on Brochures and Order Forms

You don’t want to run out of literature at small business trade shows. Bring enough brochures and product information sheets to pass around.

Likewise, if you plan to take orders at small business trade shows, always keep enough order forms on hand.


Of all the trade show tips available, one secret to almost assuredly get people to stop by your booth is to have a small basket of cookies available. It could be name brand like Oreo, maybe Girl Scout cookies, or homemade cookies. Cookies are hard to pass by and can be that simple trick that makes a passerby say, “oh, cookies! What else do you have here?”

Have Backup Attendants

Trades shows typically run long hours, usually from morning until evening. It is unfair and unwise to ask any single person to have sole responsibility of attending your small business trade show booth the entire time.

Among the smartest of trade show tips is to be sure you bring backup. At least two people should attend. That way, one person can attend to the booth to meet and greet, while the other can walk the floor, do competition research, attend the seminars, or network.

The key to small business trade shows is to have someone on duty to answer questions, do demonstrations, and take orders at all times.

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