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Setting Up for Success at Trade Shows and Career Fairs

If you’ve worked in manufacturing and distribution for any amount of time, you’ve probably attended or participated in a trade show or career fair. One aspect of marketing that companies often don’t think about is how to successfully set up a booth experience that represents their company well. Trade shows and career fairs can be a great way to bring on new customers and recruit talent for your company.

We’ve worked with several industrial manufacturing and distribution companies to help them have a successful event experience! Here are some things we’ve learned along the way.

Set an Event Objective

Setting up at an event is not a cheap endeavor, so it’s important to know what you’re trying to accomplish with the event. Taking some time to think about this will guide you through the rest of the steps to having a successful event.

Trying to recruit new talent? Which positions do your employees need to be prepared to talk about?

Selling or promoting a particular product? What is the value the employees in your booth are trying to communicate with prospects?

Letting people know about a new service you offer? How will you communicate the value of the service to those who visit your booth?

Attracting Attendees

Any event that you attend is going to have other vendors who are competing for the attention of the attendees. Why would someone want to visit your booth? An easy way to draw people into your booth to have a conversation is by providing something fun and unique that they want to do. This opens the door for your team to have a conversation with the prospect.

Here are some ideas:
  • Spin wheel for small prizes or promotional items
  • Drawing for a large item like a cooler, grill, etc.
  • Eye-catching booth design

It’s also a good idea to start posting on social media that you’ll be at the event, so your prospects know to look for your booth.

Printed Materials

Once someone visits your booth, they’re going to be ready to have a conversation about your company. Make sure your team is prepared with talking points about what you’re trying to achieve–recruitment, sales, awareness, etc.

Remember attendees will be visiting a lot of booths and you want to give them something to review after the event. A simple flier or card can remind them later about what you’re offering.

If you’re recruiting for positions, give them something that talks about the open positions, how to apply and what to expect during the interview process, and why they should work for you.

If you’re promoting a new product or service, this is a great place for you to have an updated sell sheet that outlines your offerings and how they can contact your company if they have questions at a later date.


We get it, you might be on a budget! But it’s a great idea to send a prospect home with something in their hand that will keep you top-of-mind. You can get the following items printed pretty quickly, but keep in mind you’ll need to give a printer time to set up the design, send you a proof (or sample) and ship the items to you. Supply chains are making the printing process a little more lengthy, so make sure you add that into your event planning timeline.

Giveaway Ideas:
  • Pens
  • Stress balls
  • Cups

Follow Up System

Someone you want to stay connected with visited your booth. Now what?

Make sure you have a way to collect their contact information and follow up with anyone you want to talk with.

Some easy ways to collect information are with a tablet connected to an online form, having them fill out a paper form for your team to collect or even having them leave their business card.

When your team gets back to the office, make sure you’re following up with these prospects in a timely manner. It often helps to have an email template that you can send to everyone who stopped by your booth at the event, that way you’re not writing individual emails for each person who stopped by.

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