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Hints and tips about how to prepare for your first trade show

Posted by Catherine Conway on

Lots of  independent business owners want to be selling to shops trade show are often seen as the place to go! So what should you do to prepare?

Your first trade show or exhibition is bound to be exciting, but maybe a little scary too. Trade shows can attract thousands and are a great way for you to increase your brand awareness and to get your product seen by the right people. If you're confident that your business is ready to exhibit at a trade show there's no doubt you'll benefit from the opportunity. Stand space can be a big investment for small businesses often running into thousands of pounds, it's therefore important you prepare yourself so you can make the most out of your time there. Here are our tips for preparing for your first trade show.

Trade Stand Example from La De Da Living

Budget and set objectives

Identifying your objectives is one of the first steps to having a successful trade show experience. Ask yourself what your goals are for the event, whether that's selling to retailers, making business contacts or just getting a look at the competition!

Make a checklist of everything you'll need to pay for, including catering, travel and accommodation if the trade fair is not in your city. Of course not all companies have a big budget, but that doesn't mean you should opt for the cheaper, smaller stands in the corner, as this will compromise your business. Instead, make sensible, money saving decisions such as registering and making bookings well in advance. Not every business is ready for the trade show experience, don't allow yourself to be pushed into going if you know you don't have the finances. There are other alternatives to get you started and, there's always a next time.

If you've never been to the host city before take time to familiarise yourself with the trade fair's surroundings and transport links. Have a look online or ask the venue for information and any recommendations. Get these small (yet important) bits done first so you can spend more time preparing for the day itself.

Take the opportunity to network

Whether it's their 20th trade show, or if they're a first timer like you, there's a lot you can learn from those exhibiting next to you! Look at the exhibitors list before the show and see who's attending. It doesn't matter whether they're a potential customer or a competitor, show them you're interested and ask them about their company, then they're more likely to ask you about yours. Make a note of people's names, collect business cards and email addresses from all visitors that show an interest in your stand, don't give them a brochure until you have asked for their business card !! These will come in handy later.  

Make sure your stand is ready

Nobody wants to give a bad first impression, especially when your business is at stake. Lack of preparation could lead to a whole host of different issues; a demo could go wrong or you could be stuck with no products at all. Make sure you have plenty of business cards and brochures to hand out. Take time to carefully select  friendly, well informed employees to help you, who are genuinely interested in your product.  They should be approachable and able to engage other people naturally.

Don't be afraid to have fun!

If possible make your stand an interactive experience, this will not only generate interest, but also inform people about your product or service! Ask people to try out the product themselves or get a volunteer involved in a demo. A fun stand with and engaged sales team will continue to attract more and more people.  

Bird Feeders of different sizes displayed at a Trade Show

Take advantage of social media

It's 2018 there is no excuse to not be online - all your competitors will be. Before the trade show let your followers and customers know what's going on and where you're going to be. You can also take advantage of any free marketing offered by the Trade Show Hosts by uploading your images and company information to their website well in advance, you never know your products coule be featured in their literature!. During the trade show you can post pictures of your stand or even live stream a demonstration. Post about the day after the trade show is over.  Yes you'll be busy, but social media is an invaluable tool you can use to communicate with people all over the world. You could even write some posts in advance and save them to your drafts if you want to save time.

Follow up

The show may be over, but you're not done yet! You're likely to come away from the trade show with a pocket full of business cards. Be sure to send a personalised, follow up email while people still remember you, give them more information about your business and thank them for visiting your stand. Don't wait for them to contact you! If you wait more than a couple weeks to make your move, you've probably missed your chance.


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  • Thanks for the tips, lots of great points on there. Looking forward to the BCTF

    Kate Park ( Twice Fired ) on

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