As with any other marketing effort, a successful tradeshow depends on strategic thinking about objectives and developing effective ways to engage prospects before, during and after the show. In other words, it's not just about the booth display. With the IEEE IMS/MTT-S show coming up in early June, let's take a look at how International companies can take full advantage of their trade show presence. Here's a Top 5 list of successful tradeshow tactics:

1. Pre-show communications extend the tradeshow time in your favor. Why limit yourself and your investment to just a few exhibition days? A successful pre-show strategy includes communicating with attendees via your internal database, the show's attendee registration list, advertising and digital media. Yes, it takes effort and lead time, but a pre-show print and/or electronic mailer along with a targeted social media campaign and advertising, ensure more people (with more interest in your products) visit your booth. The mailer, posts and tweets (always use the show's hashtag #IMS2011, as well as creating a hashtag for your company's presence at the show) can highlight new products that you are rolling out at the show, as well as selling your core capabilities. (And a chance to win a giveaway is always a nice hook, too!)

2. Booth graphics should tie into the pre-show promotion and, ideally, your current print ad campaign that's also appearing in the show guide, so that your targeted prospects recognize you easily and have your message quickly reinforced. Your booth graphics, including any signs or posters, should be thought of like a highway billboard -- the goal is to communicate key messages in about 5 seconds. That means avoiding prose and even excessive bullet points. Stick to simple, consistent and key messaging.

3. Take advantage of your setting by rolling out new products. In addition to engineers, remember that a key audience will be at MTT-S: trade publication editors. Contact Microwave Journal's editors (well in advance is always helpful) to notify them of a press conference at your booth and schedule individual appointments for them to get a personal walk-through of your demonstrations, new products and associated benefits -- preferably with technical experts from your company. Offer white papers, application notes, eBooks and other documents on the new products via your website and at the show. Take advantage of pre-show promotional opportunities with the media such as the free product listings and special show coverage opportunities.

4. Prepare your company's MTT-S representatives in a few key ways: remind everyone of your theme, target products and applications, and key messages; coach presenters to focus on the benefits of new products, not merely the features; and coordinate your presence with professional dress, logo-branded shirts, eye-catching lanyards, and more.

5. Complete the communications circle with a post-show communications. Follow up with attendees and no-shows alike with a print and/or electronic mailer and promotions that reemphasizes new products and any special offers promoted before and during the show. And by all means, do something with the leads generated at the show, including tracking retweets, Facebook likes, fans and friends, and white paper or other document downloads. Follow up with brochures, sales calls and personalized thank you notes or emails.

By incorporating these tips into your tradeshow strategy, and communicating with customers before, during and after the show, you'll optimize your MTT-S payoff and experience. Have a great show!