How To Market an Exhibition or Trade Show Event

Almost as soon as you know you are hosting an exhibition, you should put together your marketing plan. There are many channels to consider, and many of them are essential for building awareness of your show. The most important will vary depending on the industry you are targeting, and also if you are directing marketing towards specific demographics.

New to Exhibition Organising? Read our Regularly Updated Guide

1. Set Clear, Measurable Goals

Your targets will help define the scope and scale of your exhibition marketing strategy.
Questions to ask that will help define your objectives include:

  • How many exhibitors do you need to fill the space?
  • How many tickets do you need to sell to break even?
  • Who are your target audience?

Examples of marketing objectives for exhibition events include:

  • To Offer online participation through webinars or virtual exhibition spaces
  • To Create a social media campaign that resonates and gains enquiries
  • To Increase the proportion of women attending vs last year
  • To Improve the perception of event quality

Once you have clear objectives, you have a direction in which to steer your exhibition marketing strategy.

2. Define your USPs

To market an exhibition effectively, you need to show what people will get out of going. If you’re attracting exhibitors, highlight networking opportunities, lead generation potential and any support packages you are offering.

For attendees, it may be the opportunity for live equipment demonstrations, discovering the cutting edge of their industry, networking events, talks and seminars.

Try to narrow this down to a few short statements. They should show a unique opportunity and highlight that you have considered industry needs.

LION Tip: If your exhibition runs alongside a conference, your confirmed speakers are USPs. Shout about them!

a strong brand helps your exhibition

3. Define your Brand

While you may be organising as part of a company, your trade show title is a brand in itself. Great examples include MACH 24, BrightonSEO or the MODA fashion fair. Year after year, your exhibition will grow, and people will need a memorable brand identity to find you.

The USPs of your event are a part of the brand, but there is a personality to go with this. Is your conference a place for industry expertise and innovation? An easy-going space for sharing ideas? A progressive opportunity for transitioning to a green economy?

Once you figure out the voice of your brand, your marketing and content ideas will flow easily.

Make sure this is consistent across the website, social media profiles and marketing materials on all channels.

4. Update Your Exhibition Website

All of your marketing will bring people to your website. It could be a landing page on your company website or a stand-alone site.

The website should have strong branding, and show the dates and location of the exhibition or conference clearly.

This site will be a central point of contact for attendees and exhibitors alike. It should include:

  • Exhibitor registration system
  • Regulations and rules for applications
  • Attendee Ticket booking system
  • Confirmed Speaker list
  • Event Schedules
  • Exhibition Floor Plan
  • Any further useful information for both exhibitors and attendees, e.g. travel, accommodation, catering.

Any information you share in emails later on should be replicated somewhere on the site, so that people can find it quickly.

exhibition website

5. Writing a Call for Exhibitors

Inviting businesses to exhibit at your event should start 6-12 months before the event, much earlier than marketing towards attendees. This gives exhibitors plenty of time to plan their stands and strategies.

press release gets your event in front of the industry

Press Release

Writing a strong “Call for Exhibitors” press release is the first step. Once written, this should be sent to as many industry publications as possible to get a wide reach. Include:

  • an introduction to the organisation and the purpose of the event
  • an outline of the event details, e.g. venue, date, approximate number of booths
  • Fees for booth and space-only offerings
  • Booth specifications
  • Key dates for applications and responses
  • Regulations and rules for applications or a link to these on your website.
  • Contact details and how to apply.

You can use your press release as a basis for the rest of your marketing. Pick and choose the relevant information, but make sure the press release remains a central point of truth for your team.

Direct Email Marketing

Craft a personal invitation to companies that you would like to see in your exhibit. This should be directed to their marketing and sales teams. Use the USPs in the subject line to grab attention and include the key details and benefits in a way that can be read in moments. Make sure you include a link to the application process!

Directories and Calendars

Put your event in your audience’s line of sight. Register on directories and exhibition calendars such as Make sure you stand out and use the appropriate tags.

Finally, use event marketing!

Host a booth at other related trade shows to invite exhibitors and attendees alike to add your event to their schedule. This will also give you a taste of what exhibiting is like, so you can meet exhibitor needs more readily.

event marketing to promote your event!

6. Marketing to invite attendees

Social Media

The social media arm of your event marketing strategy is where you have the most creative freedom, variety and potential reach for relatively little spend. If you haven’t already, set up dedicated social media accounts for the event brand so that every post can lead people to your exhibition.

Choose the most important social media sites for your target industry.

  • Restaurants, beauty and fashion businesses tend towards Instagram and TikTok for the high visual impact.
  • Manufacturers and industrial companies are more often found on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Tech companies are spread out, but LinkedIn is a good place to start.

Dedicate some time scrolling to find out current trends. From this, you can plan a month’s worth of content to go out every couple of days. Keep topping up your plan as you go to make sure you have plenty of ideas all the way up to the date.

Use hashtags, respond to posts from people in your industry, and most importantly: share Key Dates for the event. Your call for exhibitors, early bird ticket release dates and any deadlines for applications should have multiple posts planned.

After a few weeks, review how your social media strategy is performing and make any changes.

social media marketing for exhibitions

PR Advertising

Another press release, this time geared towards attendees. Announce your early bird ticket sales and include all of the key dates and details. This press release should also include some of the most exciting events and exhibits you have confirmed.


Pay-per-click advertising helps your event show up at the top of relevant searches in Google and other search engines. It can also support your social media strategy with paid social promotions.

Target keywords for services your exhibitors might provide. The people researching those services are likely to be interested in your exhibition.

LION Tip: Keep tracking how your PPC campaigns are performing in GoogleAds, so that you can make any changes if needed.


Industry publications often sell advertising space in their pages. Consider buying a quarter-page, half-page or even a full-page ad to promote your industry event. Include all the key details and contact, and make sure it is well-branded.

Recruit Exhibitors as Marketers

Most businesses will announce that they are showing at a particular event on their social media, email and blog channels. Encourage this among your exhibitors, as it all leads back to creating a buzz around your event.

Put together a Marketing Package for your exhibitors to help them invite potential leads to the show. Include key dates and benefits for attendees, as well as the ticket booking link.

7. Create A Follow-Up Plan

The end of the event should trigger follow-up marketing. This cements relationships and helps keep your brand in mind when businesses plan next year’s events. Create templates and drafts before the event so that you can send them live in good time.

  • Send emails thanking your sponsors, exhibitors and attendees. Include details on when you’ll be able to announce the next event.
  • Tease any follow-up events such as webinars or local shows on social media.
  • Share feedback and testimonials you received on social media, with photos!
  • Send an initial email to anyone who subscribed to a mailing list during the event.
plan when to call your leads

8. Plan Marketing for The Big Day

During the event, organisers will be busy. However, if the marketing team has prepared well, you can count on brand awareness being high.

Invest in banners, graphics and branded merchandise to keep your event logo visible throughout the venue. Make sure it is displayed at the entrance, on reception desking, on stages and anywhere else you can.

How to Engage with Attendees on the day:

Social media is your friend for event marketing. Keep updating throughout the event to engage your attendees. This will also create a buzz for next time and help grow the event year on year.

Some ideas for on-the-day marketing include:

  • Run challenges such as exhibition scavenger hunts
  • Post videos of interactive activities
  • Set up a photo booth where visitors can take team photos with a branded background
  • Invite attendees to use your handle and hashtags to share their experiences online

The Key: Plan and Be Consistent

We recommend creating a time-based plan with as much detail as you can. This will help you visualise the busy periods and have drafts ready before the deadlines come up. Make sure every piece of marketing you put out links to your event website, and you should meet your marketing objectives easily.

Promoting an Exhibition: FAQs

Begin planning as soon as you know the event will go ahead. Preparation is key to an effective marketing plan. You want to give exhibitors at least 6 months to prepare their strategy, so your first press release should go out 8-12 months before the event.

It depends on the industry, but increasingly social media is a key driver for engagement. Particularly as marketing departments are often in control of exhibition attendance, social media is a great place to reach the creatives in any business.