To be successful, brands must differentiate themselves to stand out to their target audience and from their competitors. For many brands, trade show marketing is a major component of the integrated marketing mix because they offer unique brand engagement opportunities. According to Ad Age, a typical B2B marketer’s single largest budget item is trade show and event marketing – averaging 20% of the total marketing budget (Advertising Age, How to Triple Your TradeShow Marketing Results).

Trade shows are designed for associations and their members to exchange ideas, share what’s new and important, and help shape the industry. Trade shows also give businesses a platform to promote their products and services while they have access to a targeted audience of potential buyers. Research shows, 67% of trade show attendees represent a new prospect and potential customer for exhibiting companies (Exhibit Surveys, Inc.) and that 81% of attendees have buying authority (Center for Exhibition Industry Research).

With the right audience in the right place at the right time, it’s a no-brainer to market to them. So, how can your brand make the most of the investment and opportunity at a trade show?


Understanding Your Audience

As John Foster, VP of OOH Media Strategy at EMC Outdoor, noted in his recent post Understanding the Trade Show Attendee Experience, “Successful trade show marketing is about developing a media plan that aligns with and capitalizes on attendee behaviors in the market to accomplish a brand’s marketing goals.” Yes, a booth, product demos, and meetings are important, but a brand can make the most of that investment by engaging their audience at the right time in the right place with the right messaging.

Location-based marketing, like Out of Home and Experiential, allows you to target your audience when and where it’s most effective. Devoting a portion of your trade show marketing budget to OOH or Experiential activations will give you an opportunity to:

  • Expand brand engagement
  • Increase marketing footprint
  • Sustain brand awareness throughout the event
  • Welcome attendees
  • Drive foot traffic to your booth/meeting/private party


[bctt tweet=”Location-based marketing, like Out of Home and Experiential, allows you to target your audience when and where it’s most effective.” username=”emcoutdoor”]


Brands should not concentrate solely on the convention floor, instead take a 360° view to understand the full attendee experience and behaviors. Sure, they’re spending a lot of time in the convention center, but what are they doing before, during and after the event? Attendees spend time outside of the convention space, going to and from the hotels, restaurants and other off-site gatherings. Why not engage when they are already open to your messaging when they’re outside of the crowded convention floor?


Make a Memorable Impression with Attendees

The Primacy and Latency Effect is the idea that people remember the first and last thing they see. With Out of Home, we apply this to consumers who are engaging with a variety of media in a market throughout a period of time. Consider the trade show marketing experience like a sales funnel. You must create awareness and consideration with a message well before they are ready to “shop” (i.e. go to your booth or talk with a salesperson) to fill the top of your funnel. You must reinforce your message at multiple touch-points before they get to the convention center.

There is an increased likelihood your audience will have a more memorable connection to your ad if it makes the first unique impression. In practice, considering taking advantage of welcoming attendees to the market using airport advertising solutions. Then, reinforce the messaging while they travel into the market, using transit and ground transportation solutions (i.e. taxi tops, shuttle wraps, transit posters).


Airport Poster Advertising

Airline Backseat Tray Wrap Advertising


Stand Out from the Convention Crowd

Most trade show exhibitors put their efforts toward booths, banners, swag items and engagement on the convention floor.  This results in a high density of media and increased competition with low share of voice for the attention of the attendees. While executing a trade show booth can be very beneficial for a brand, this contributes to the overall noise of the trade show floor. The quantity of impressions is high, but the quality of those impressions suffers.

Implementing Out of Home and Experiential options in multiple places and methods gives your brand room to breathe. Utilizing space outside of the convention center will help establish a unique, more memorable, thus more effective voice. A successful integrated OOH plan will not only target the desired audience, but will reach them multiple times, too. This additional investment in OOH and Experiential means more potential reach and frequency of impressions yielding a deeper brand conversation with the consumer.


Trade Show Mobile Wallscape Advertising

Trade Show Transit Shelter Advertising


Reach Attendees Off the Trade Show Floor

Attendees spend an average of 9.5 hours total viewing exhibits (Exhibit Surveys, Inc.). This means attendees spend a lot of time outside of the convention floor, too. If the average show length is three days, that’s six times, at minimum (morning and evening), attendees could be exposed to your external OOH messaging or Experiential activation. Although, they’ll likely pass by many more times travelling to and from a hotel, convention center, and restaurants and attractions. This proves how OOH advertising can deliver high impressions during a short period of time.

Trade shows often provide an opportunity for off-site meetings, after-hours events, and parties open to convention attendees. OOH and Experiential marketing drive traffic to these outside events targeting attendees where they are while working and moving around in the market. Customized solutions can creatively target attendees where they are while maintaining the integrity of your brand message.


Trade Show Wrapped Segway Advertising and Brand Ambassador



Integrate Digital with OOH

Implementing digital advertising via geofencing technology can maximize your Out of Home advertising in the trade show setting. Digital messaging hyper-targets audiences within a specific area (down to a 200-meter radius) offering a method to continue the brand conversation with your audience.

Studies show that people are 48% more likely to click on a mobile ad after being exposed to the brand on OOH (NeuroInsight: Beyond OOH). The value-add when integrating a digital marketing component with OOH is almost two-for-one. Consumers see your banner or in-app ads in addition to the location based OOH ads. Plus, those audiences can be re-targeted for post-show messaging and ongoing cross-channel marketing.


[bctt tweet=”Studies show that people are 48% more likely to click on a mobile ad after being exposed to the brand on Out of Home. @neuro_insight” username=”emcoutdoor”]


You can join the ranks of successful trade marketing brands and differentiate yourself in the market. It’s important to understand your target audience and their behaviors, then create a unique experience to compete for their attention. A strategic and tactical approach, integrating multiple channels including OOH and Experiential marketing, will yield a bigger impression, a more effective message, increased brand engagement, and maximum possible ROI.


If you’re new to trade show marketing or want to maximize your presence at a trade show you’re attending, our EMC Events strategy team will help you take your brand where you want to go. Contact us by filling out the form below!