tips for first time trade show exhibitors

7 successful Trade Show Tips.

When I was contacted by the Country Living Fair to attend their up and coming show, I jumped at the chance. I had never attended a show on this scale before so, I really wanted the opportunity to experience this for myself.

Now I never knew there were different types of shows to attend. This one in particular was a consumer show, where the majority of people attending would be customers as a pose to retailers/buyers. Never the less, I couldn’t wait to get my hands dirty and get stuck in for this new exciting venture.

Having said that, I learnt a hell of during the 5 days I attended the show. So I thought I would list the top 7 important steps to achieving a successful Trade Show.

1) Prepare For Your Stand

The organisers have a layout plan for the show, they will contact you and notify you of the type of stand that will be allocated to you. They will also give you the dimensions for the space and calculate how much this will cost to you.It’s your responsibility to decide what type of furniture you will be needing for the show whether this will be shelving, tables, chairs, clothing rails etc.

I was fortunate enough to find the perfect shelving for my notebooks at my local charity furniture shop. I managed to negotiate a fantastic price for the shelves and used these to display my notebooks. Here is where your negotiating skills will come into play, as attending a trade show will be one the most expensive events you will attend whilst in business.

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Mock Up Display

Mock Up Display


After this stage you will need to draw out your stand, or (in my case) do a mock up of your stand at home or in your studio. This will give you a clear indication of what you will need to change adjust, take out or add into your display.

I was very satisfied with the layout of the mock up of my stand. This is also very essential to setting up your display as this doesn’t waste any time when you eventually reach the show.

2) Setting A Budget

Going back to having good negotiating skills, this will need be one of the skills you adapt first and foremost when speaking to the organisers of any trade fair/show. Their goal is to sell as much space to fill up the show as possible. So they will try their very best to get a high price agreed with you. Here is where you can negotiate them down in order to stick within your budget.

Let’s say that a stand has 6 meter sq and each meter square costs £200. In total that’s around £1200 excluding VAT. You would also need to consider lighting for your stand, so you would need to contact the electronics department to pay for an electrical socket.
Let’s sat you have a tall display, you may need to pay for spot lights to be attached to your stand also.

All in all the cost of having a stand is not cheap and will be quite overwhelming when paying for all the adaptations for your stand. I can honestly say, I managed to negotiate my stand price down and which made a huge difference to my budget. For my stand I paid around £800 for everything, which I was very satisfied with.

3) Stocking Up

Time will be ticking by quite quickly and you will be getting quite anxious about attending the show. Stocking up is one of the things you will need to consider doing throughout the entire process of attending a show. Buying and making extra stock, to fill your stand is key. Nobody wants to look at an empty stand as this puts off potential clients. You also need to consider what item/pieces sell better than others. That way you know what pieces you can sell more of in order to make a profit. I was fortunate enough to hire an assistant to make up my stock which took a lot of the pressure off me when the time came to attend the show. You may be making all your stock on your own, which is fine. You just need to make time to build up your stock, because over the course of attending a show, items will be selling then you can replenish as you go along.

4) Marketing

Marketing is key

Marketing is key

So you have paid for your stand, prepared for the event and you’ve made enough stock to cover the entire show. Now there is something you also need to consider when you attend……marketing!! Don’t forget to print up lots of flyers and business cards to give away throughout the entire time at the show. A lot of potential customers will be coming to the show, but may not stop at your stand. Even if they enquire about your product, they can take a flyer or business card with them so in case they would like to make a purchase with you later on. I always print up enough cards to distribute with every sale I make. The customer may purchase from you later, so it’s very important for your brand to be put out there even if it’s on a flyer or a business card.

5) Social Media

Social Media is also another key aspect to successful trade show. The use of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc can expand your presence to the world on the inter web. Getting your business out there on social media can in turn entice potential customers to come out and see you at the event. Previously, I’ve been to events where I’ve sent out “tweets” and Facebook posts notifying my “followers” of my whereabouts only to discover that a customer actually made their way down to see me to make a purchase. So NEVER underestimate the power of Social Media. It really works if you put in the work!! A quick snap here and a tweet there can really make things work more in your favour.

6) Get Some Rest

I was told by a friend of mine to get some rest before the event. I underestimated this advice as I never thought that attending a Trade Show would be a very tiresome job. By day five I was very exhausted and my energy was sapped out of me.
The only advice I can give you from this is to get as much rest as possible before the event. Also each night try and get home in time to sleep early to attend the show the next day.

I did manage to have help from family members on certain days, but the majority of the time I was there manning the stand throughout the entire time.

Take a packed lunch with you if you can, it will help when you want to go for a quick lunch beak if you’re lucky to get help during the show. Most of all, just be prepared to work hard throughout the time you’re at the show.

7) Get Networking

Lastly, whilst you are at the show, Network, Network, Network!!
Mingling with other fellow exhibitors can be a fun experience. To speak with and network with other exhibitors, you get a sense that you’re all in the same boat (so to speak). You could also be targeting potential customers.

One other thing that I would say is beneficial about networking is that I managed to strike up a deal with a catering company selling their hot Indian cuisine sauces. They were kind enough to swap an entire hot sauce kit with with one of my notebooks. I was delighted and so where they to receive a notebook.

It’s these type of spare of the moment things that can happen when you network… never know who you’re going to meet or strike up a deal with.

And that concludes my list of my top 7 tips to achieving a successful trade show. After this show, I went off to do yet another show a month later. That was an actual retail event for buyers which was an amazing experience.

Follow these steps and I’m sure you’ll thrive when you commit to a show. Please follow, rate and comment below.

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