Printed Marketing Ideas for Exhibitions

Looking to make a big impact at your next exhibition? Here is a list of printed marketing ideas to help you to reach out at industry shows and make your company’s message hit home.

Whether you’re exhibiting at a local business event or a national trade show, it isn’t enough to have an engaging exhibition booth, video presentation booth, friendly staff and a unique offering. You have to go further, but giving prospects something to remember you by, follow up with and recommend to their friends and colleagues.

Like your exhibition booth, for your printed marketing materials, you need to spend considerable time researching, planning and designing them to appeal to your target audience. Often, then means thinking outside of the box to not only engage and inform but delight as well.

Business Cards

Everyone has business cards. But how are you going to make yours stand out from the crowd while being cost-effective?

Create a great design with bold colours specifically for the event. Add the logo of the event to the corner of the business card, so prospects can remember where they met you. And for real impact, add a special finish, such as gold foiling, embossing or a shiny spot UV to delight the prospect receiving it with an unexpected surprise. Make them want your business card!

However, don’t make the mistake of making your business card too thick. For example, triple thickness business cards will struggle to fit inside wallets and you won’t be able to bring as many with you to distribute among new prospects. Non-standard shaped business cards are also a common mistake. Too small and they will get lost. Too big and they won’t fit in a prospect’s wallet.

Keep your business cards colourful, boldly designed and with just one special feature to make them exciting. But keep them simple. Bespoke business cards designed to slide out, fold into strange shapes or reveal hidden messages are costly and complicated. Prospects in a hurry don’t want anything that’s complicated.

If you are handing out freebies from your booth, you can use the same philosophy to design eye-catching Discount Cards with a bold message. These will fly! Thankfully the percentage of prospects who redeem discounts is relatively low, allowing you to be very generous. Prospects will readily take business cards from your booth and look up your company at their leisure. So, ensure they have a clear call to action and URL along with your contact details.


How do you make a flyer exciting? Even with the boldest colours, the clearest messaging and generous incentives, prospects generally don’t respond well to flyers. Probably due to being bombarded with marketing flyers for years.

However, they do work well as a follow up to a conversation, so long as they provide a step by step guide or other important information that will make a prospect want to hold on to it. Of course, a discount or other incentive also works well to delight them. But only after that initial conversation.

If you have too much information to fit on a flyer, consider a 6 sided roll-fold leaflet instead. Just be sure to have clear objectives for each side of the roll-fold leaflet to provide prospects with all the information they need and delight them with some unexpected extras.

Once again, prospects only seem to want to take this printed information following a conversation.


Recently, postcards became a very popular alternative to flyers. They’re thicker and heavier than a lightweight flyer, while also being considerably more durable.

Here the West, we tend to place greater value of heavier items, which could explain why postcards appear to be more successful than flyers. In the same way that prospects will gladly take a business card from your booth, they’re just as likely to take a postcard – which in essence, is a giant business card.

Why this is, no one can really be sure. But it’s clear to see that if you don’t have postcards at your exhibit, you’re missing a big opportunity. Just be sure to have a bold offering on the front with a strong call to action and your company details on the back.

While flyers can be easily lost or crushed, a postcard is here to stay. So if you have to make a decision between these two marketing materials, postcards are the better choice.

Despite appearing more successful than flyers, postcards typically cost twice as much to print. Fortunately, the cost of printing these marketing materials is so small, it shouldn’t pose a challenge to even the tightest marketing budget.


For when you need to give your prospects a lot of detailed information, booklet printing should be a high priority, as they make for great reading. To make your booklet really engaging, you need a great cover design with big impactful imagery, an index and a variety of different page designs for each section with eye-catching images, broken up by the occasional full-page feature or double-page spread. Like a mainstream magazine! Because business to business booklets can be so dreadfully dull and corporate, you should consider your audience and what will engage with them the most.

However, in the same way, you would only consider switching from a flyer to a roll-fold leaflet to in order to provide prospects with the extra information they need, you should apply the same thinking to whether they (not you) actually need a booklet or not.

Writing and designing a 16 page booklet is no small task and should only be attempted for complex or high-value business offerings. It’s also important not to fall into the track of stroking your own ego. Always research, plan and consider what your prospects will want from this booklet. And always remember to educate, inform and delight!

A booklet is a rare opportunity to give a lot of information to a high-value prospect. Especially as they may circulate your booklet within their company, network or social circles, making them a key influencer as well as a key decision maker in coming on board with your business.

Gift Boxes

If you really want to delight your prospects, a well thought out gift box will blow your competition out of the water! These can be costly, which is why they require considerable research, planning and an intelligent way of being distributed.

It’s also important not to make the content of your box all about you. It needs to be about the prospect. Otherwise, it’s not a wonderful “gift” that makes them smile when they open it. Instead, it can become a box full of overly self-promotional junk, like a disappointing Christmas present, abruptly severing the connection you might have made.

For example, we create a gift box for other exhibitors at a recent event. We used mailing boxes measuring approximately 170 x 130 x 50mm, sealed with a sticker of our logo and slogan. Inside we gave them a box of Mikado chocolate sticks, a sketching pencil set (with our logo on), a swatch book of all digital printing papers, a business card with a special discount code on and a key with a tag on to take part in an exhibitor exclusive competition at our booth.

Upon opening a box, they were immediately delighted by the Mikado and the sketching pencil set. They were pleasantly surprised by the swatch book of Digital paper, often saying how much they needed it, they usually didn’t comment on the discount code, but would always ask what the key was for.

This is also why intelligent distribution is important. Because any marketing materials given to a prospect as part of a conversation will have considerably greater value than a prospect receiving or retrieving materials by themselves. Also, because the ‘gift’ came from an actual person from our company, who took the time to stop and talk to them, prospects didn’t feel as though a faceless corporate entity had ‘bought’ or ‘bribed’ them with a box of goodies.


Printed marketing materials are a cheap but often overlooked part of exhibiting. So make sure you take the time to research your prospects and plan your materials so you can successfully approach, inform and persuade them to use your services.

Always remember to educate, inform and delight your prospects. Keep your designs big and bold with clear, concise messages. Create your printed marketing materials with reusability in mind so you can confidently print more than you need. And never carpet bomb an event, show or exhibition with marketing materials when you can deliver them personally. It’s a far more rewarding experience for both you and your prospects.


Adam Smith is the Marketing Manager at a Mixam. Having successfully launched in the US, the UK based printing company is rapidly expanding by disrupting the online market with fresh ideas, new innovations and a real passion for print.

Comments are closed.