The essential guide to getting the most out of a trade show

Trade show
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As a new startup venture, you need to get your brand out there to maximize your visibility. Every industry is now rife with competition so you need to be head and shoulders above your rivals. You can do this by offering something new and different, by heading online, and by going to sector-specific events to flaunt your wares, products, and services.

The ultimate event that you should consider attending is the trade show. These events come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are globally renowned and will ensure that your brand achieves international visibility. Others are more local or national, have a more intimate feel, and cater to a specific industry niche. 

Planning for a trade show

You need to plan to attend a trade show to launch your business to a greater fanfare. By securing your attendance at a trade show in conjunction with your online launch, you can generate a buzz to maximize your exposure as you begin trading.

You could have the finest product to hit the shelves or the best service in your industry but if none of your potential customers know about it, then this becomes redundant. The idea behind your business needs to be sound, but it is the effective marketing of your venture that is the most crucial thing. Follow this ultimate guide to get the most out of your trade show experience.

Think about the sort of trade shows that appeal. The larger, more grand trade fairs will cost more to attend. However, you get what you pay for. The footfall will be vast and you will have a readymade target market walking past your stall multiple times a day ready to be hit by your brand. These larger trade shows gain traction online, people are eager to find out who the attendees are, and you may find your business across numerous platforms.

Alternatively, you could choose to attend a smaller trade show. These are not necessarily inferior, especially if your business is more locally focused, such as a bakery, an accountancy firm, or a carpet fitting service. These trade shows will be cheaper to attend and may have the footfall that you require to help launch your business successfully.

If you are eager to trial different types of trade show, don’t be tempted to sign up for more than three in any one year. Trade fairs take a long time to prepare for and can eat into your working hours which may need to be spent on implementing your business vision alongside your digital marketing strategy.


You cannot simply rock up to a trade show and hope for the best. You need to prepare. Once you have registered your interest and you have been approved to attend, it’s time to start researching. Think about how many people are scheduled to attend the trade show and work out a conservative estimate of the amount of people you can target with your stall, merchandise, and marketing. 

Try and obtain a map or site plan of the trade show and work out where your pitch is situated. You will be surprised just how small your stall will be. You will also be in an ocean of similarly sized stalls so you need to ensure that you stand out from the crowd. If you are lucky enough to have a corner plot, make use of every opening to your stall. The chances are that you may have two ‘windows’ into your brand, so utilize this.

If you do feel squashed in a row of your competitors, don’t fret. There are some simple ways to ensure that your postage stamp sized plot attracts the footfall rather than the stalls either side of you. Ensure that you invest in some top quality marketing materials.

A banner is a must

A banner is a must for any trade fair. This can be installed high across your pitch. Mirror this with one of the many vertical pitch flags available. These are great to fit into narrow spaces, yet give you the height needed for maximum exposure of your brand. Ensure that your logo is visible from across the other side of the hall or arena so you can pull in potential customers and clients from across the site.

If you have a rear partition, put up some photographs of your products, plaster it with testimonials and reviews, and ensure that you have enough space to dedicate to your logo, contact details, email address, and social media feeds. Dedicate some space to an email sign up list so you can contact your potential clients post-trade show.

Marketing your business can be a bit like blowing your own trumpet, but it needs to be done. While a little gimmicky, the concept of free mouse pads, pencil toppers, and coasters really does pull in the crowds. Everyone loves a freebie, it gets people crowding around your stall, and you can enjoy free marketing across the site as people carry around a plastic bag complete with your business logo strewn across it.

Your preparation plan

When you attend a trade show, you need to be ready for a long day. Being on your feet all day, chatting to customers, and trying to show off your wares can be challenging no matter how enthusiastic you are about your venture.

It’s crucial that you have people with you to take the reins behind the stall if you need a break, you need to eat, or you simply need five minutes to unwind and stretch your legs. Staying on your stall for too long will see you get tired, appear washed out, and not portray the sort of chirpy and professional face for the business you pride yourself on.

Before you attend a trade show, ensure that you timetable the stints that you and your team have on the stall. Work out the hours you will be attending and schedule two hour slots. This keeps the faces on your stall fresh and cheerful. Ensure that you have a haircut prior to the marketing event and consider replacing that old pair of glasses with something more corporate looking.

Head to a site like and enjoy looking through their range of affordable designer brands. Always make sure that you are suited and booted and depict the very essence of your industry. For some, such as wedding planners, law firms, and IT services, this may mean a full on three piece suit and shiny brogues. For those in more creative industries, this may mean a turtle neck and suede blazer. Go for a style that is formal yet approachable.

Attracting the crowds

With your competition surrounding you, how will you attract your fair share of the footfall? Your large banner and flag will have attracted them to your pitch, but it is up to you to keep them there. If you can have your products on show and even get them working to show them in action. Allow people to ask questions, touch the products, and chat with them about the range. If they enquire about pricing, don’t be evasive and give them a straight answer.

At the same time, it’s a good idea to have a discount offer available to those individuals who sign up for a service or order and pay for a product on the day like the ones mentioned at This can encourage people to make that snap purchase decision and can help you to claw back some of your outlay in attending the trade show.

Don’t be too pushy but show off your buy one get one free offer or your twenty per cent off deal. If they decline, suggest that they sign up to an email newsletter to be the first to see exclusive deals and discounts.

To increase your followers online, provide a free gift to those individuals who like your Facebook page, or take a photo of your stall and post it to Instagram with the hashtag of your choice. By enhancing your online presence through your attendance at a trade show, you are increasing your global reach.

Enjoy getting to know your potential new customers and chat to them freely about your business. Be friendly, not too stuffy and formal, and enjoy enthusing about your product range. If you find that you have a crowd forming, but you are busy chatting with others, ensure that you have a laptop with a rolling slideshow or PowerPoint to help you retain interest for long enough before you have a chance to chat with them.

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