Five Steps to Audience Engagement at Tradeshows & Events

Succeeding in today’s market requires more than a great product or service; it requires connecting with modern consumers on an emotional level. A growing focus on the dynamic between a brand and its ideal customers makes relationship-based marketing essential–and makes trade shows and events even more valuable for businesses looking to create and nurture that connection. 

According to a study done by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), “99% of marketers said they found unique value from trade shows they did not get from other marketing mediums.” The impact of face-to-face interaction at events and trade shows is unmatched and undeniable, so how can businesses leverage these opportunities to grow brand recognition and loyalty? Here are five steps to get you started:

    • Know your event audience: Of course, this means knowing who they are–their age group, lifestyle, interests, etc. But it also means knowing where they are in your client journey and how you hope to advance the relationship at the event. Are you introducing your product to potential clients who are not yet familiar with you? Are you building a sales funnel for clients who recognize your name but need to be nurtured towards a sale? Are you selling products to clients who already know and trust your brand?


    • Know your message: Once you know who your audience is and where they are in their journey with you, you can focus on a simple message that advances the relationship by addressing a need or pain point.  You’ll want to keep the messaging simple and inviting–an overload of information causes people to glaze over, and pass over, exhibits. Aim for compelling instead of complicated, and give your audience a clear, concise message that makes them eager to know more.


    • Pique their interest: The purpose of your booth’s design is not to tell the entire story of your brand, but to quickly grab your audience’s attention so you get to tell them your story–and show them how they fit into it. Making that immediate connection means using design elements that generate curiosity and create an emotional appeal.


    • Bring them into your story: Event attendees are there to engage with you. In fact, statistics compiled by CEIR indicate that “81% of trade show attendees actively engage with sales and marketing staff.” Once you’ve piqued their interest, draw them in to your story with design elements and activities that engage the five senses, like props, 3-D displays, interactive exhibits and demonstrations, free samples, photo ops, prizes, and games. And don’t forget to create space where attendees can step back from the hustle and bustle of the event and talk with you about your product or service.


    • Keep the conversation going: The end of the trade show is the beginning of a new or newly advanced relationship–so keep it going! Encourage attendees to post on social media with your hashtag and share photos from your booth, and to like or follow you on social media. Send them on their way with brochures and coupons for special offers so they have an incentive to continue to connect with you. Follow up with attendees after the event to continue to strengthen your relationship with them.


Modern marketing is all about relationship building as brands seek to connect with their ideal audiences in meaningful ways. Businesses can take advantage of these unique and powerful opportunities to cultivate relationships by planning for, participating in, and following up on trade shows and events as a vital part of their comprehensive marketing strategy. 


Illustrated Designs, Inc. has been at the forefront of the marketing industry for 30+ years. From design to execution, their innovative design team develops catalogs, event décor, printed materials, 3-D displays, trade show exhibits, and more.


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