7 Effective Tips for a Successful Trade Fair

Exhibiting at trade shows is a great way to build trust with customers,
bring in new prospects, improve ones position in the market and boost sales.

To strengthen your business activities and the outcome hereof, planning is essential.
Here are seven pre-show tips to maximize your trade show and event outcome.

Natasja Gamborg
Natasja Gamborg

Last Updated: July 10th, 2023

As for any event, the better prepared you are, the better outcome. The same goes for trade shows. Essentially, a trade show can be compared to a play. Staff members are the actors. The trade show booth is the stage.

And the director wouldn’t send her actors on stage without rehearsing, right? Right. So, let’s unfold how to plan for your next event with 7 tips for a more successful trade fair. Enjoy!

Tip #1: Define Your Purpose

.. Aka the big WHY. As in why are you attending? Because essentially, if you don’t know why you are attending, why go. Possible reasons to exhibit: 

When you have a clear purpose in place, it is easier to determine the design, activities and benefits of the stand. This leads directly to tip number two which is all about goals and objectives

Tip #2: Set Goals and Objectives for the Exhibition

When you set goals and objectives for your trade show, it gives direction to your communication, staff and activities, why it has great importance for your outcome and success.

Furthermore, when formulating objectives internally as a team, your staff start working towards shared goals that secures better alignment and motivation.

Objectives should always be S.M.A.R.T – Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.

When you know what to measure, you can improve it and track the progress time after time. 

Tip #3: Be Short and Concise in Your Brand Messages

What story are you trying to convey? What memories do you want to create? 

In a nutshell, make it short and sweet. And ensure that your customers effortlessly can decode your messages. This also applies to your activities, hence competitions and giveaways.

Tip #4: Incorporate Your Customer's Journey to Your Plan

Think the process through from start to finish. 

From when your customers are searching for information, to they visit your trade show booth, and up until they’ve returned home. 

Consider mapping out the customer journey before, during and after the event including the customer journey for your specific trade show. Elements like weather, parking, placement and visibility of your trade show booth will all affect the customer experience.

Tip #5: Choose your Trade Show Staff and Remember to Train!

As mentioned earlier, a trade show can be compared to a play.

Here you need to know, how many are going and more importantly, who is going? When you know this information, you can start prepping your staff with what lines they have to say: greetings, goodbyes, product information and so forth. 

You should also prepare them for which area – or as we like to call it zone –they are responsible for. 

Map it out. Rehearse it. That way everyone knows exactly which part they are playing. 

Tip #6: Marketing. Marketing. Marketing

Do (potential) customers know you exhibit? Tell all your customers and potential customers why they should visit your booth.

Make it irresistible for them by giving them a memorable experience, they won’t get by just Googling your company name. 

Show, don’t tell. 

Add visual elements to your marketing strategy. Images and videos tend to evoke stronger emotions and will help you build trust while conveying brand messages.

Your website is your digital business card. Make sure all information about your upcoming trade show, event or exhibition is listed clearly, visibly and up-front. 

Same goes for your other channels. Focus on the channels, where your (potential) customers are.

If you wish to reach a broader audience, you can always add paid social to your marketing mix. 

Tip #7: Follow up on your leads

Have a well-prepared plan for who contacts whom, how, and, most importantly, when.

Make sure to follow up with everyone you spoke to at the trade fair. Also the people you invited, who were unable to attend. Show them what they’ve been missing.

Always think in terms of next steps. Keep your agreements with your guests. Think long term. Strengthen and build relationships.

Most importantly, make sure you treat the planning and exhibition itself as a party! This will all help to grant you a more successful trade fair. 

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Make it easy to keep your promises ...

With explicit goals and a well-defined target group, motivated staff, and systematic (and digital) collection of leads, the follow-up will be piece of cake. The only thing it requires is that you have complete control over these 5 areas: 

1. Hot leads

Which leads do you need to take home to achieve your goals – what characterizes a good, hot lead for you?  

2. Ask the right thing

What information do you need to collect about your guests/leads, in order to be able to follow up purposefully – what do you need to remember to get answers to and permission for?

3. Packed and ready

What will you follow up with and how will you send out the material? Have brochures, prices, pdfs, etc. ready before you leave.

4. Collect (digital) business cards

How do you collect leads to streamlining the following-up process – do you have the right (digital) tools available?

5. From lead to a sale

Who does what, when? How do you easily and quickly get your leads into your CRM so that they are part of the existing sales process?  

Easy and targeted follow-up starts before the fair. Mindset, ownership, internship, and time in the calendar must be aligned and fine-tuned so that your promises do not become unmanageable to keep when you return from the fair. 

And just to return to my friend from the Euro Shop – my path to becoming a customer with him, could have been much smoother if he had been completely focused on the above 5 areas – and had he kept what he promised … 

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How to Turn Leads Into Potential Customers​

And find out why 200 leads often are more valuable than 2000. 

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