Use this Simple, Reliable Marketing Model at Your Next Tradeshow

Whether you're preparing for your 23rd show or your first, this time-tested model can help you understand your target audience's psyche, where a lead is in their buyer journey, and how to develop an effective tradeshow marketing strategy on the showroom floor. 

This model has been around for over 120 years and is used widely in sales and advertising training. Its longevity and widespread usage are a testament to the usefulness of its categories. It's been tried and tested over and over again. It's called the AIDA Model. It's an acronym that stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action. 

Every story has a plot. A plot is a series of meaningful events that lead to a conclusion. And while plots differ in details, every (good) one has a beginning, middle, and end. Likewise, every customer goes on the same journey when buying a product. It generally follows this order: 

  • They first become aware of its existence (through advertisements, word of mouth, tradeshow booths, etc.).
  • If they think it's cool, they'll be interested in learning more about it (what will it do for me, how much it costs, etc.).
  • Then, if it speaks to them, they will desire to have it even if they may not be able to buy it right at that moment.
  • Finally, they take action and buy. 

It is a bit simplistic, but that's the source of the model's power. Having each of these developmental stages in mind helps categorize marketing materials such as content creation, advertising campaigns, and selling. The key to remember is that people buy with their emotions and then find reasons to support their decisions. Let's take a deeper dive to see better how it works. 



Building awareness of your business is the main point of advertising. What is the initial impression you want your brand to have? Since people buy with their emotions, you want that impression to speak to them. You want your product to be cool. However, captivating design is not the only part of raising awareness. You must put it out where people will see it. That's why tradeshows are a staple for marketing your product, especially if you fall within one of these categories: 

  • You're new to your industry
  • You're a startup with a revolutionary product
  • You're in a service based B2B business 

Tradeshows provide the necessary platform for young businesses and experienced veterans to meet new customers, strengthen relationships with long-time clients, and connect with like-minded professionals. It's been reported that 90% of tradeshow attendees use tradeshows as their number one source of purchasing info. 

But there is a caveat. Marketing at tradeshows is an art--a skill. There will be hundreds of other vendors attending, making standing out essential. For example, something as simple as a backlit counter or hanging sign can go a long way in catching eyes. Did you know large format graphics increase initial awareness by 78%? You can view our helpful resources for ideas on putting together draw-dropping exhibits here. 



There is a secret to piquing someone's interest. The secret is in knowing the difference between features and benefits. Features are descriptors of the product's capability, while benefits paint a picture of what the product will do for the customer. If awareness is about packaging, interest is what’s written on the labels. 

For example, let's use energy drinks. Don't delineate nutritional facts if you're trying to get someone interested in buying your drink. Red Bull commercials don't discuss its drink's zero sugar, sodium content, or ingredients. Instead, they say Red Bull gives you wings. They paint a picture with words that show the effect of using its product. 

So, once you have built awareness with your incredible exhibit and product design, you'll need to pique your potential client's interest. Fortunately, tradeshows are excellent platforms for product demonstrations. It's a place where you don't simply have to tell them what your product can do for them; you can have them participate right then and there. 



Leading your customer on their buyer journey can be like building a fire. You need kindling and matches (awareness), careful guidance to help the weak flame catch (interest), and fuel to maintain the fire (desire). OK, it's not exactly like building a fire. But you get the idea. You have to stoke the flames. People base their decisions on their emotions, and if they believe your business will do something for them, they will buy from you. 

At this stage, if they have the desire, the goal ceases to be to sell (you've already done that) and becomes making the process of purchasing as easy as possible. If the process is disrupted or complicated, suspicion could mount. Make sure you have a strategy for guiding your customer to check-out that is as simple and easy to follow at your tradeshow. 



In sales, this is also called the close. Whenever they commit to an action, you have completed their journey. And, if the product proves its worth to them, that desire you've worked hard to help guide will remain. After this stage, your goal changes again. Whenever a customer commits, you've entered a relationship with them (albeit a transactional one), and relationships always come with expectations. The new goal is to maintain relations by delivering on the product's promises. 



Congratulations on sticking it out this far. We hope this information is valuable for you, and if you'd like to discover more ideas about how to apply this method through exhibit design, don't hesitate to get in touch with us here or give us a call at 800-234-6760.