The Ultimate Trade Show Checklist For 2023

In today’s competitive business environment, trade shows provide the perfect opportunity to build your business and increase sales. You can generate leads, expand your brand, network and scope out the competition—all under one roof! 

But trade show planning is notoriously time intensive. The fact is, what you do leading up to the trade show is just as important as your time on the exhibit floor itself. Have you placed your promotional item order? Do you have eye-catching tabletop displays and branded apparel?

Our advice is to start early and use our comprehensive trade show checklist to ensure your event goes off without a hitch. (Plus, we’ve incorporated some time- and money-saving tradeshow marketing tips you will want to take advantage of.)

Before the Trade Show:

1. What Is Your Overall Goal?

Once you’ve signed on the dotted line to participate, you need to determine your trade show goals. Take some time to brainstorm the “big picture” objectives you hope to achieve. They may include:

At trade shows, you’ll likely have multiple goals, so identify your top priorities and then set measurable goals. For example, you might establish a target number for new leads, social media followers acquired, resumes collected or meetings scheduled.

2. What Is Your Marketing Strategy?

With a clear picture of what you are aiming for, it’s time to put together a game plan that will get you there. Some of the most important tasks to accomplish early are establishing your message, preparing print materials, ordering promo items, inviting clients and prospects, and setting up a data collection system.

Trade Show Team

To set yourself up for success, carefully select your trade show team. These are the folks that will be representing your brand on the exhibit hall floor. It’s best to choose diverse staff members that can support one another throughout every step of the sales process. At a trade show, you’ll need to fill the following roles:

And once you’ve identified your team, provide them with the following:

Tip: Remember to dress for success! Matching custom apparel creates a strong brand identity and a sense of unity.


You have a very limited amount of time (a few seconds, usually) at a trade show to connect with attendees. What you say and the signage in your booth must quickly entice your target audience. When crafting your message, be sure to:

When you are happy with your pitch, teach it to your trade show team and have them practice, practice, practice! Everyone should be able to expertly describe your product or solution and list its benefits.

Brochures and Signage

Design and order all your marketing materials well ahead of time. Your brochures, business cards and signage—you can add trade show swag to that list, too—should all promote the same brand message, so use the same colour scheme, tagline and logo. Brymark Promotions can help you with all your booth space displays and supplies.

Here’s a list of printed materials you might want to bring to your next trade show:

Tip: The earlier you order, the cheaper it’ll be. (And, trust us, it’s no fun to ship anything last minute to a trade show!)

Social Media

Utilize social media to spread the word about your trade show attendance. Create posts on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook that will drive traffic to your booth. Consider sharing:

For more ideas, check out what your competition is doing online!

Tip: Some trade shows have their own app. If so, use it and promote your brand and booth if given the opportunity to. Also, add the official event #hashtag to your posts if there is one! 

Data Collection

Utilize your newsletter mailing list to invite clients, prospects and partners to visit your trade show exhibit booth. In some cases, it may be the only time you’ll have the chance to meet with them in person! 

Tip: Save a special stash of promotional products for these visitors.

Games, contests, giveaways, photo backdrops and more can entice more people to visit your booth.

Tip: Put a team member in charge of data collection. They can focus on quality control and adding any helpful notes. They can also get a jump on follow-up as well. Have this person immediately follow qualified prospects or potential partners on social media.

3. What Is Your Budget?

You’re right; trade shows are not cheap. But, when exhibitors play their cards right, they can keep costs in check and significantly increase ROI. When establishing your trade show budget, keep these expenses in mind:
*Note: Some costs, like contractor or union set-up and break-down fees, are built-in and non-negotiable.


  • A high-traffic location is also a high-price location. Try and find a good location that won’t break the bank. And don’t be afraid to ask for an upgrade! Call the exhibitor rep a few weeks out and ask if there have been any cancellations. You might be able to move to a more desirable location for free!

  • Pay attention to deadlines. You can often take advantage of discounts if you’re an early bird! 

  • Shipping is expensive, so personally bring what you can to a show or ship items well in advance.

  • Order only the electricity you absolutely need. An extra outlet might sound beneficial, but it’ll cost you. Consider using rechargeable devices.

4. How Will Your Booth Look?

You are competing for attention on the trade show floor, so making a great first impression is critical. When designing your trade show booth, choose an approachable and welcoming theme. Need help choosing items for your booth? Speak with an expert at Brymark Promotions. We’d be happy to help!
The size of your booth will impact how it looks, so use every inch of your booth space to your advantage. The back wall is a great space to showcase your tagline and messaging. Carry the same theme throughout all elements of the booth:
Tip: Provide a convenience to draw and keep attendees at your booth. For example, set up a phone charging station.

5. What Promotional Products Will You Be Giving Away?

Trade show attendees love swag, and so should you! The right trade show promotional items can dramatically increase the number of booth visitors and, in turn, the number of leads you generate. And the right provider who can handle the logistics whether you are in Canada or United States.
Giveaways are a great opportunity to attract attention, promote your brand and stand out from your competitors. The options are endless, but these items are sure winners:

Pre-order custom clothing and apparel that features your logo or message. Unisex items like t-shirts and hats are always coveted at trade shows. Also, consider visually appealing tote bags or mini backpacks that will attract attention on the trade show floor.

Put your logo in the hands of trade show attendees with custom mugs and drinkware. Everyone loves branded water bottles, so make sure your company name is displayed on the side!

Pens and pencils are supremely cost-effective yet impactful trade show items. Pair these with other popular promotional items, like sticky pads or notebooks.

While a small piece of paper still serves its purpose, a business card can come in many shapes and sizes. For a tradeshow, consider distributing items attendees won’t throw away, such as magnets, stress balls or bottle openers!

Make a lasting impression at your next trade show with branded USB flash drives, headphones, mousepads, charging devices, and more!

Mix and match items to create corporate gift boxes for your loyal customers, partners and investors.

6. Who Will Be Attending the Booth?

Know your audience. At trade shows, not all that attend will have the same goals or intentions. So take time to clearly define your target audience and decide ahead of time how your team to interact with everyone from window shoppers to partners or VIPs and even competitors that drop by your booth!

7. What’s in Your Trade Show Emergency Kit?

Don’t be left unprepared. Pack a survival kit that includes these items:

During the Trade Show:

1. How Are You Representing Your Brand?

If you’ve used consistent messaging and brand colours during the trade show planning stages, now is your time to shine! You’ll surely see the fruits of your labour in action on the floor! Effective branding, from booth design to graphics, giveaways, and staff apparel, will entice passersby and give them an idea of your company’s personality.  Remember, consistency is key!

 2. How Are You Engaging in Conversation?

Try to avoid boring sales pitches and engage in genuine conversations instead. Some team members will feel more comfortable than others with initial chit-chat, but generally, booth staff should:
Tip: Remind your team to stay off their devices!

3. How Are You Promoting the Booth During the Trade Show?

In addition to all the pre-show promotion you’ve done, you’ll need to use a multi-channel approach at the show to ensure a steady stream of visitors. There are lots of ways to encourage people to visit your booth. Try some of these ideas:

After the Trade Show:

1. What Type of Leads Did You Get?

When the show wraps up, you’ll undoubtedly be tired, but follow-up with potential customers is essential (and should ideally happen within one week or less). Here are some of your post-trade show lead tasks:

2. What Did You Learn from the Trade Show?

After the show, hold a debriefing meeting to determine what went well and what could be improved. Brainstorm with the team, asking questions like these:
Tip: Use the answers to prepare a post-show report that will help you plan for next year! 

3. How Will You Celebrate Your Team?

Don’t let a job well done go unrecognized! Celebrate! Consider some of these ways to reward the folks that worked hard at the trade show: