Trade shows and exhibitions

Six tips for exhibiting at trade shows


Exhibiting at a trade show can help you generate new leads and build business relationships. There can be substantial costs involved, so it is important to get things right. Follow these tips to make the most of exhibiting at trade shows.

1. Do your research

It's important to pick a trade show that will attract your target market. Find out demographic information about the delegates, for example, industry and job title. The organisers of a good trade fair should be able to supply this kind of information. You should also find out how popular and well-run an event is before committing to buying stand space. You could initially go as a delegate and decide whether to take a stand the following year.

2. Get your stand design and location right

Many other businesses will also be exhibiting, including your competitors. You should design a stand that is eye-catching and has a clear message. Stand location is also important with the prime space being near the entrance or break-out areas. Choosing these locations may not always be possible so it may be worthwhile to work with a designer to utilise your space as best as possible. Using technology such as digital displays, interactive kiosks or virtual reality can help you engage with potential customers.

3.  Marketing opportunities

Beyond attending the event itself, there can be several other opportunities. You could create a public relations (PR) or social media campaign to raise awareness that you will be attending. You could also reach out to trade publications who are attending and ask them to feature you in trade show coverage. You may be able to work with the organiser to send email marketing communications to their database of attendees.

Bring a range of marketing materials with you to the trade show to promote your business. These might include brochures, flyers, pens and bags.

4. Build your database

Be sure to take business cards or contact details of the potential customers you meet. Exhibitions are a great way to source qualified sales leads. You could prepare some questions to ask potential customers. Running competitions, giveaways or promotional offers in exchange for contact details can be effective. Some exhibitions offer the option of using an electronic scanner to collect contact details from delegate badges. Be sure to adhere to rules around personal data and direct marketing - see privacy and data protection in direct marketing

5. Network

Introduce yourself and speak to not just potential customers, but also suppliers and competitors. This can be a valuable source of market research.  See understand your competitors.

6. Follow up and evaluate

A personal follow-up phone call or email to potential customers you've met can help turn leads into sales. Using a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system can help manage your leads. Evaluate the success of your attendance to decide whether it is worth going back next year. Weigh up the number of leads and sales against the costs of attending.