MEET helps international B2B companies gain traction and scale in the U.S. through trade shows, events, and strategic connections
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6 Common Challenges to Developing a U.S. Trade Show Strategy Plan

October 25, 2018

Developing a trade show strategy plan for any company is complicated. For those looking to enter the U.S. market, it’s even more complicated. Through developing a tailored trade show consultation strategy for each client, MEET supports companies looking to expand to the U.S. every step of the way.

Trade Show Strategy Plan

Here are six common challenges we’ve identified in the process. While some are transcendent to any new market or in-person event, others are unique to the dynamics of the U.S. given its regional diversity and capacity to signify large-scale growth.

Challenge #1: Cannot identify an ideal customer.

Similar to a business plan, every trade show strategy plan starts with a need experienced by an ideal customer. Absent the ability to identify a precise target prior to each event, it is extremely difficult to attract truly viable prospects. (Here’s how we define viable.)

Challenge #2: Place too much focus on one large event

Perhaps it’s the relative scale of the U.S. market, perhaps it’s the media, but companies looking to expand to the U.S. have a tendency to focus their trade show strategy plan too heavily on one massive event. Events of this scale are not only expensive, but they are also high risk.

Challenge #3: Poor alignment

Harking back to Challenge #1, absent the ability to identify an ideal customer, it is difficult to ensure that one’s offer, call to action, and value proposition are aligned with the target buyer persona. Knowing which events to select in the first place is similarly difficult without a well-aligned strategy.

Challenge #4: Communication isn’t localized

The U.S. market is large and diverse. A trade show strategy plan must be empathic towards local, regional, and industry-specific differences and reflect this awareness through written, verbal and non-verbal (how one presents) communications.

Challenge #5: Having salespeople in the booth

Staffing is a common challenge for trade show exhibitors—specifically the practice of putting salespeople in the booth to engage with prospects. Salespeople are not those best suited to work in the booth, at least not as their primary function during the event. Alternatively, we recommend transaction professionals.

(Check out our post on how to devise an efficient and effective staffing strategy here)

Challenge #6: Ineffective follow-up

Trade show follow-up should not feel as insecure as dating. In other words, don’t sit around and wait for the phone to ring. Employing the right staffing strategy along with a well aligned, lead-nurturing offer will help to moderate the flow of prospects.

Trade Show Strategy Plan

With 900 species of freshwater fish in North America alone, a good fisherman must decide first which species and sub-species of fish he wants to catch, choose the specific body of water where the target species is plentiful, and chose the unique bait which is most likely to attract the target species in that body of water. With this information, he may choose to test several fishing holes and baits to determine which produces the best results.

Taking a tip from a good fisherman, testing different geographic areas of the U.S. market before establishing a U.S. presence may be the most cost-effective first step. Narrowing your scope to five potential geographies and testing them for the best response will provide a lot of useful information.

A carefully crafted trade show consultation strategy for U.S. expansion should begin with clearly identified target customers for each trade show opportunity. Selecting the right event, the right offer, and securing appropriate staff comes next.

We can help get you started.


MEET ( helps B2B growth companies and pavilion hosts effectively leverage at trade shows and in-person events. MEET’s processes help its clients ramp-up sales quickly and maintain a steady stream of high-quality prospects going forward. Contact Bill Kenney at MEET today for a free trade show participation assessment or +1 (860) 573-4821