Trade show marketing has changed in recent years. Traditional event solutions are being replaced with guerrilla marketing techniques in which exhibitors catch the attention of consumers by any means necessary. Fortunately, there are endless possibilities when it comes to attracting attention and the right moves could make your brand stand out, even on a shoestring budget.

By advertising your presence in unexpected ways, you can garner more attention and potentially even sales than you would with traditional marketing tactics.

Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Extend your marketing reach

You can promote your attendance at a trade show well in advance of the event, using a well crafted social media campaign. You can generate buzz online by creating a short, on-brand promotional video to tie in with the trade show.

Industrial manufacturer Ingersoll Rand created the following video to promote their attendance at the 2010 Power-Gen International Trade Show.

The video looks extremely high-end to match their brand, but rather than include their company name on the title, they opted instead to start with the booth number and name of the show; “visit booth 2231 at Power-Gen International Show”. The goal was for the brand to show up in the search results when attendees search on the show name and encourage click-through to their website. The video received 2,045 views before the exhibition started and boosted attendance.

Consider your stand

A well-placed stand can help attract attendees, but these locations often go quickly and are considerably more expensive than less stands in less high-profile positions, so it pays to be creative with your stand design.


Consider Brunner GmbH; a German chair designer, who took visual impact to new heights at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile trade show with their stand design, which resembled an art installation. The whole concept was based around the proverb; “when fortune calls, offer her a chair”. They incorporated bold colours and patterns into the design and suspended a number of plastic chairs on wires to make an arrangement high overhead.

The design not only attracted attention at the show, but also generated some great PR from Exhibitor Magazine, who voted it; ‘the top trade show booth display by an international designer’ in 2012.

Stay on message

If used correctly, guerrilla marketing techniques can be extremely effective for gaining attention at trade shows, but the messaging needs to be memorable, in order to leave a lasting impression. Your strategy needs to be unconventional or “out of the box”, but it must also maintain a connection to your company or product line. If it doesn’t, the likelihood is that people will remember the campaign but not the company behind it.

Timing is everything

Companies can successfully generate traffic with well-timed promotions. With hundreds of exhibitors fighting for attention, it is important to watch the flow of crowds, in order to capture the largest audiences. Running a competition at the start of an event may be tempting, but this is when everyone else will be doing it. Adjusting timing to grab attention when no one else is may end up yielding better results.

Hotcow is a non-traditional creative agency that specialises in experiential marketing that goes viral. Our campaigns generate buzz through crowd participation, PR and content sharing. Contact us on 0207 5030442 or email us on