Trade shows can be a very effective tool for promoting or selling your product. In the past they were associated with endless booths, cheap promotions and desperate salesmen, but nowadays they offer captivating, glitzy spectacles, major trade shows featuring famous musicians, influential speakers, the presence of industry leaders and the same “wow effect” that you would expect from Hollywood.

These sort of changes make current trade shows a lot more appealing to potential clients and collaborators but it also means it can be a lot harder to stand out among the competition. 

What is a trade show and what to expect?

A trade show is basically an exhibition at which businesses from various industries 
promote their products and services. They’re usually held in convention centers from larger cities and take several days. They can restrict attendance to only industry members or be open to the public as well. 

Trade shows often provide exhibit space, workshops and presentations, media presence, networking events and awards presentations.

Considering the fee for the exhibitor can run upwards of thousands of dollars, it's better to prepare well in advance so you can make the most out of it.

Set goals beforehand

Whether it’s selling a particular amount of inventory, connects with dealers or suppliers or promoting a new product, it’s a good idea to set one or several goals before attending. This can help you choose the trade show that best suits your ambitions.

Choosing the Trade Show

Choose the trade show that offers the target audience you want to interact with and offers the highest chances of achieving your participation goals. Do some research into the event’s objectives and audience.


If you book early you can get a 
substantial discount compared to doing it only a month or so in advance. You can use this money to get a bigger booth and more eye-catching displays. Also find out in advance where your booth will be located, whether this is a low traffic or high traffic area, lighting conditions and what displays will be surrounding yours.


Let your customers, clients, suppliers and all other meaningful contacts know you will be participating and invite them to attend. Don’t forget to give them your booth number. 

Setting up your booth

All your efforts will be in vain if your booth can’t generate enough buzz for people to stop by. You need a booth that stands out, the kind that people will take selfies with and provide you with free publicity. 

First you need an appealing 
popup stand, preferably one that you can easily transport in order to avoid damage and get more use out of it. Here you can display the most important details about your products and highlight its advantages over other competitors. It should be eye-catching but not enough to burn your retinas. Let the products take center stage.

The best way to get attendees interested in your product is to offer a demonstration, the more involved the audience gets the more likely they are to remember it. If they can physically interact with the product it’s even better, but in case this isn’t possible, use a flat screen to display a video featuring your product details. You can rent the necessary equipment, you don’t have to buy it and the visitors are more likely to be drawn to moving images. 

It’s also better to have an assistant while attending, as the interactions between you two will make the presentation more engaging and you can also take a break without leaving the booth empty. 


After you have set up your booth, go around and get acquainted with the other exhibitors and their products. This will not only help you develop useful 
business connections, but you can also refer customers to each other during the event. 

When it comes to customer interaction, be friendly and inviting, strike up conversations, listen to what they have to say and answer their questions. At this point it would be useful to have a portfolio handy that you can show them in order to answer some of their inquiries. This way it will feel more intimate than talking to them during a presentation and they are more likely to remember you and perceive you as trustworthy. 

You can also compile an e-mail list by giving a small freebie such as a sample or a gift bag in exchange for their business card. 

Use social media before, during and after the event. Use social media all the time, that’s what your customers and competitors do. It’s a great tool for marketing and can make up for the lack of media coverage for your booth – this can happen. 

You can also use it to generate more contacts and business relations. 

You can sell but don’t be pushy, you want to stay away from the “used car salesman” rhetoric and focus more on getting people interested, the selling part should seem casual and a natural next step. 

Preparing for a trade show can be quite nerve wrecking, but hopefully this article has provided you with enough information that it seems more like a challenge than an insurmountable feat. 

The main things you should keep in mind when preparing for your event are:

  • Define clear goals beforehand

  • Prepare and rehearse your presentation

  • Arrange for an attractive and unique display but one that doesn’t clash with the overall theme

  • Give attendees a reason to want to approach you

  • Network as much as possible

  • Get an assistant

  • Make use of social media.

With the right tools you can use trade shows as a valuable marketing tool that generates far more profit than what it costs to attend.  Don’t forget to also enjoy the process, not only the result. The main purpose of such events is to build relations between industry representatives and to help each exhibitor asses the current market. If you focus too much on selling, you’re barely scratching the surface of what you can get out of it. 

Author's Bio: 

Cynthia Madison