8 Keys to a Successful Trade Show

trade show

While there are plenty of ways to market your business, some methods are more cost-effective than others. One of the most affordable and direct marketing strategies is to go to a trade show in your niche, where you can meet with potential customers face-to-face and get their contact information so you can follow up with them later on. If you’re thinking about attending one but aren’t sure how to prepare, here are 8 Keys to a successful trade show.

Key #1: Have clear objectives

Make sure you know exactly what you want the trade show to accomplish. Whether that’s making contacts, impressing clients, or launching your company, set specific goals.

You’ll be more effective if you know what your goal is and how much time or money it will take for this initiative. This will also help you decide which trade show is right for you, whether it’s bigger and better with the greater competition or an event focused on product demos.

Having clear objectives will make marketing at the trade show easier because you’ll know exactly who you’re trying to reach and how.

Key #2: Do your research and contact the event organisers ahead of time

If you can’t make it to the show, find out who your contact is and schedule an appointment.

If you want to participate as an exhibitor, find out how many booths are available and how much they cost.

It’s also important to understand all of the trade show regulations ahead of time in order to make sure that everything is taken care of for the day of the event. These can be pretty extensive, so do your research!

Key #3: Proper planning

As with any event, planning is key. The more preparation you do before the show, the less pressure you’ll feel when you’re there.

This means that your booth should be styled for the theme of the show as well as designed so it’s easy for people to find your company information and products on-site.

Time management is also important during these events because you don’t want to spend too much time with one customer or prospect and lose out on others who might have come by during that time.

Also, have those brochure stands that are required placed and an attractive brochure can be worth its weight in gold.

Key #4: Build relationships in advance

It can be difficult to meet people on the show floor, so try reaching out before the show. Reach out by email or social media and make plans for your time together.

This could lead to increased sales down the line, but more importantly, it’s an opportunity for you and your booth visitors to have a conversation, build rapport, and get some input from potential customers.

There are three ways you can introduce yourself: with branded items; with promotional cards; or with wearables (such as lanyards). Try reaching out in advance and inviting them for coffee at a local restaurant nearby that’s open during off-peak hours.

Key #5: Having the right mindset

It’s very important to have the right mindset when walking into a trade show. Don’t see it as competition, but rather an opportunity for you and your company to connect with others who may be interested in what you’re doing.

Keep in mind that these are people that love design, so be confident about what you’re showing off! This is your time to shine, so hold your head high and focus on putting your best foot forward.

Key #6: Present your goods with style and professionalism

To draw potential customers in, you need to present your company with style and professionalism. Everyone in the booth, from the hostess to the sales representatives, should be dressed for success.

Men should wear suits or khakis with a shirt that has no tie and is buttoned only at the top; women should wear dresses or skirts with nice shoes. Please remember to dress appropriately when it comes to kids, who can wear children’s business attire if they so choose. 

Start talking about your product or service as soon as you meet someone new, whether you’re greeting them at the door or engaging in conversation when they come up and introduce themselves. They’ll want to know what they’re investing their time in; make sure they know it’s an investment worth making!

Key #7: Share stories about why you love what you do

One of the most effective ways for people to connect with you at a trade show is by hearing your story. So when asked, “What do you do?” share more than just the facts.

Share what brought you here and why it matters.” Then say, “And I’d love to hear about what brought you here as well. Start this process today by telling your story on your website, LinkedIn, and other social media sites.

Key #8. Stand out from your competitors

Even if you’ve been doing your research, with all the other vendors at your trade show, it can be difficult to stand out. Here are some tips that might help: 

  • Set up in high-traffic areas or meeting rooms where people will be arriving or gathering 
  • Pay attention to what is going on around you and speak up when you see the opportunity 
  • Engage attendees before they leave by saying something like, “We know how hard it is to try to go through all these booths. Do you need any help? Or Have you seen this one? It would be perfect for what you were looking for.


Finally, the trade show is a great place to see what the current state of your industry is and to get in front of potential customers. Make sure you do your research beforehand and come up with an informative display.

Be careful not to overload yourself. In between driving, setting up your booth and fulfilling any obligations at your company stand, make sure you set aside time for fun things like exploring trade-show events or exhibits or trying local cuisine.

That can help take some of the stress out of long days on-site at a tradeshow, so you’re more relaxed when it comes time to close sales and start planning future shows or expansions in new areas. Don’t forget some networking opportunities, and you’ll be ready for success!


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