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  • Writer's pictureCara

How to stand out at a Trade Fair

Thinking of showing your product at a trade fair?

Here’s some tips so you can stand out and make sure you get the return on your ROI.

For growing small businesses trade fairs are expensive. Taking your products to a trade fair will feel like a huge investment and for many it is just that bit out of reach. So how can you be sure that you’ll get value for money for your business at a trade fair?

Working with brand founders, although taking their businesses to a trade fair feels like the next step to sell their product, I often see:

· Entrepreneurs put off by the cost of going to a trade fair

· Brand founders who are not convinced they will see the return on their investment

· Business founders who lack the confidence to commit to a trade fair as they think it is for companies that are bigger than themselves.

· Brands who feel frustrated from their lack of sales at a trade fair having not fully prepared and researched if the show was right for them.

Why are trade shows important?

In my opinion, there is no substitute for building relationships in business face to face. After so many cancelled trade shows through covid, trade fairs are such a good opportunity to connect with new customers and start those new relationships that will lead to exciting things for your business.

Trade shows bring all elements of an industry together. With a stand at a trade fair, you’ll have the opportunity to speak to such a broad audience all in one place from finding new customers, securing sales to discovering new connections and collaboration opportunities. A trade show is a great opportunity to make yourself an authority in your field and be part of the conversations in your industry.

Here are 7 tips on how to approach a trade fair so you know you’ll be getting your ROI despite the heavy upfront costs.

1. Research

It’s all in the planning. Remember trade fairs usually only happen once or twice a year. You may need to apply for a booth months in advance to secure your space and there could be a waiting list. If you have never been to a trade fair that is relevant to your product category where your competitors are selling you need to go and visit and understand what your market is talking about.

I would highly recommend visiting the trade fair you think you want to take your business to before you commit. You need to understand who is visiting, what are the type of retailers that come to buy and what are they looking for, how is the space at the fair split up and what area would be the most relevant for your business.

You need to understand the space available to you. What opportunities are there for you to get involved beyond just having a booth. How can you maximise your presence? When you visit it is worthwhile to look at who you think is doing a good job with their stand and what is it that they’re doing that could work for you? What inspiration could you take and apply to your booth presentation and experience when you’re ready?

You need to have a strategy for your trade fair investment which begins well ahead of the actual date, a strategy that maximises the trade fair and then continues after the trade fair itself.

Success at a trade fair to maximise your return on investment is all in the planning.

2. Get going well in advance

Once you’ve made the decision which trade fair you are going to, you need to get going and tell your existing customers you’re attending and where they will be able to find you.

You need to build the anticipation as to why people should come and visit you at the show and you need to take a multi-channel approach with this.

What is it you’ll be revealing at the show? Do you have exciting new products you’ll be launching? Ask yourself, why should someone seek you out on the day?

I would really recommend leveraging social media and connecting with the show organisers on how they are promoting the event.

Be clear on what visitors can get from attending and why the show will be a great event for them.

Invite your customers to come and see you and offer them a chance to book a conversation with you.

Consider targeting key influencers in your industry who attend and get into conversation with them.

3. Create an amazing booth design:

This goes without saying but space is going to be tight.

My Top tips are:

· Your booth needs to be all about your product.

· Keep it simple.

· Choose a theme.

· Be clear on what you want your visitors to remember about your stand.

· Give clear next steps to your visitors on how they can order or work with you after the event.

4. Your swag

Have a plan on what you are giving your visitors to remember you by. How can you help them? Is there anything you can do to make their trade show experience easier?

Have you ever considered branded tote bags? They can be useful and reusable.

Could you consider a trade show survival kit to help? Trade shows are exhausting.

Give your visitors the chance to take away a bit of your brand. You might be surprised where his could lead.

5. The experience of your stand

Take some time to consider how your visitors will approach your stand, how will you greet them and what experience do you ideally want them to have on your stand? What conversations do you want to be having? Can you clearly articulate your brand story and key messages?

Talking about your business and having conversations is great but how can you move the relationship forward to build trust. Can you offer more than a sales pitch for your products? Is there any value you could share with them?

There is an element of being brave at a trade show don’t be afraid to ask for post-show meetings and if you are having a positive conversation don’t be afraid to ask for the order.

6. Leverage your social media and PR opportunities

Ahead of the show get clear on the story you are telling about your business. Take time to strategically plan how you can share your show experience and reveal your fantastic product launch with the most impact:

Here are some tips:

· Ask for a media list

· Connect with influencers

· Join the conversations

· Use the hash tags relevant to the event

· Share your booth highlights

· Be persistent and remind your connection where they can find you.

7. Don’t forget your follow up

I highly recommend you create a post trade show follow up strategy. Brands often forget the follow up. It can be frustrating if you are visiting a trade show for the first time and the sales don’t immediately come rolling in. Prepare a post-show follow up process that is going to take the relationship with your new connections forward:

· Ask for a meeting

· Offer a free trial or collaboration opportunity

· Provide valuable content

· Advise where you’ll be next

· Offer a special time bound offer

Track your new contacts on your crm to monitor your conversion. Be mindful that not all new contacts are ready to buy, and conversations may take time.

If attending a trade fair with your business is the next step for you but you want support to get you ready to really make the most of it, then get in touch for a chat to see how I can support you. E-mail me on

Don't delay and make sure you fully research.

To unlock your trade show success check out my free Trade Show Scavenger Hunt which is perfect to take with you when you’re researching at your preferred trade fair. Seek out and find the 20 things you need to understand to secure your ROI with ease. Download it now.

Trade fairs:

Autumn Fair:

Top Drawer:

Maison & Objet:

Speciality and fine food fair: 5th and 6th September Olympia London


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