Reusing and Repurposing Trade Show Materials

Trade shows are terrific opportunities to make connections and drum up new business. If you’re like a lot of business owners, you spent months designing your booth, polishing your pitch, and preparing fun freebies to catch the eyes of potential clients at your next big trade show. Your hard work would have paid off in any other year, but this unprecedented crisis has put even the best-laid plans in mothballs. So the question is: what do you do with all those promotional materials now? We’ve got a few ideas that will help you feel good about the materials you have and turn them into new, exciting possibilities.

Storing Materials

All those unused materials have to go somewhere, but don’t start eyeing the dumpster just yet. The good news is that everything – your booth, banners, marketing materials, and freebies – can easily be stored. As long as you pack your materials away carefully into boxes and store them properly they’ll look brand new when you break them out for end-of-year or next year’s shows. If you have the space in your office, you can just stack the boxes in your storage room. If you don’t have enough space onsite, storing your materials in your basement or garage is the next best thing. A climate-controlled storage unit is another great way to keep your materials safe and looking their best if you don’t have enough space in your home or office. Though this may not seem like the most cost-effective option, chances are a year-long rental will be substantially less expensive than replacing your booth and all the flashy promotional materials you spent so much time on.

So you’ve got your unused materials stashed away in a back room or storage unit somewhere just waiting for their time to shine. Great. Now what?

Reusing Materials


This economic disruption is temporary. So while any banners and handouts with “2020” on them may wind up not being useful unless you have some shows scheduled – or rescheduled – for the end of the year, the rest of your materials can easily be reused when trade shows start up again next year. Portable booths and backdrops can be unpacked, transported and set up in new locations, flags and banners with evergreen messages and promotions can still be hung, and fun giveaways like custom phone mounts and power banks aren’t going out of style anytime soon. 

So rather than thinking of the money you spent on this year’s materials as sunk costs, think of it as money you won’t need to spend for next year’s shows. But let’s say you don’t want to store or reuse your materials. What then?

Creating Possibilities

It might be difficult to turn your booth into something you can use for everyday promotions, but that’s not the case for the rest of your trade show materials. For instance, obtain the list of attendees for your cancelled trade shows and send those would-be attendees all the newsletters, brochures, and flyers you would have given them at the show. Even better, consider slipping some creative deliverables into your mailers to capture the attention of recipients. Flash drives loaded with promotional videos fit in most envelopes and make great, cost-effective giveaways, as do small samples of your products, and the sort of custom freebies you’d normally see at a trade show. It also pays to get creative with your mailers: the more inventive your messaging and deliverables, the more likely recipients will be to remember your company when the economy picks back up. Also consider using your flags and banners to draw customers to your physical locations. The same goes for all those attention-grabbing freebies: everyday customers will be just as excited to get custom decals, screen-cleaning kits, and phone chargers as any trade show attendee.

It Pays to be Prepared 

Hopefully we’ll never see anything like the current crisis again. That being said, going forward there are a few ways to ensure your promotional materials go to good use with or without trade shows. First: avoid putting the year of the trade show on your booth or any of your materials. Attendees will know what year it is already, and unnecessarily dating your promotions precludes their use at future shows. Second: plan out your marketing materials while assuming that they’ll be used for other purposes. Ensuring your trade show banners can double as physical advertisements will save you money whether or not future shows get canceled. Finally: try to focus on smaller, lightweight giveaways that fit in shipping envelopes. That way, if future trade shows are canceled, you can send them to would-be attendees along with your brochures and flyers.

One for the Money, Two for the Show

Businesses all over the world are dealing with the cancellation of trade shows. But, as always, savvy business people will find the silver lining and use it to their advantage. Storing, reusing, and repurposing trade show materials can help save money in the short and long term and even help draw customers to physical locations while the crisis drags on.



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