The 10 Golden Tips to Participate at Trade Fairs

The decision has been made: you will exhibit at a trade fair (yay!).
Exhibitions are incredibly useful marketing events. 
If done well, you can gain major contracts, find new clients and distributors and strengthen relations with existing partners and suppliers. 
Fairs are also great platforms to showcase new products, keep an eye on your competitors and expand your network.
You can even find new employees to recruit!

However, attending a trade show requires preparation (a lot!) and it can become overwhelming sometimes. 
No worries, here are 10 Golden Tips to be successful when participating at exhibitions. 
Just follow these easy steps and you will become an expert in no time!

1. Assign a stand manager

When organizing your company’s participation at trade fairs there are many elements to consider: 
stand design, promotional materials and giveaways, personnel attending, catering services, brand communications, etc.
Appointing a stand manager will ensure that there will always be a person responsible to turn to if there are any questions or requests. 
This person will also become a bridge between your company and the fair organizers. 

The stand manager will create a schedule with deadlines to follow, guarantee that everything is on time and keep the management updated. 
Simply put: will help you organize your participation and avoid the chaos of involving multiple people and departments.

2. Start on time or don’t start at all

Organizing your participation at an exhibition requires preparation… and time!
Follow the deadlines established by your stand manager and the venue: 
certain services and utilities need to be booked weeks (or months!) in advance.

Rushing your participation can lead to unpleasant surprises:
samples and promotional materials not arriving on time, getting a bad stand location, not having enough personnel to attend the stand, etc. 
Plan everything with time and avoid unexpected last-minute issues!

3. Formulate clear KPIs (and how to measure them!)

What do you expect to achieve by attending to an exhibition?
As mentioned before, trade fairs are very useful marketing events for various purposes. 
Make sure you have a benchmark to evaluate after the show. 
It can be anything: from getting new leads to closing deals, introducing a new product or increasing your brand awareness.

Once you have defined your KPIs, it is important to bring the necessary tools to measure the impact of your participation afterwards: 
business cards given, contact sheets filled or giveaways distributed.
Create a spreadsheet with all your goals and update the document at the end of each trade fair day.

4. Create a unique 60-second pitch

There are usually thousands of visitors at an exhibition.
It is quite likely that a few hundred of them will pass by your stand; and the stand next to yours; and the one next to it; etc.

Fair days can be long and exhausting, not only for the companies exhibiting, but also for the visitors. 
If they don’t know you and you want to get their full attention, you need to be able to sell them your product, service or proposition quickly.

Prepare a unique 60-second pitch and train your personnel on how to bring it.
If you can convince visitors with your proposition and they agree to have a sit down at your stand, you are one step closer to get a potential new business contact.

5. Instruct and motivate the stand personnel

A unique pitch is a good start, but it is not enough. 
You need to train your personnel to become great salespeople: enthusiastic, good stand personnel determine the success of the trade fair.

You can have the best product in the entire exhibition, but if your salespeople cannot convince your visitors, you won’t close many deals. 
Knowing your company and its proposition is essential to land new deals. 
On top of this, a good and positive attitude is a must!

Bonus tip! If you are exhibiting at an international trade show, make sure to bring people that speak the local language. 
If none of your employees are fluent in the language, hire translators to help you during your meetings at the stand.

6. Create stopping power

Make sure that something is happening at your stand: create a buzz! 
For instance: employ a barista, rent a candy machine, organise gamification, lectures, demonstrations, entertainment, or give something away for free.
If you need inspiration, check out our top recommended giveaways for exhibitions!
If your budget allows it, build a breath-taking stand and offer food, drinks and entertainment. 
Exhibitions are an investment: it’s up to you to decide how much money you want to invest and how much you expect in return.

Just remember that everything you do needs to have added value and suit your brand’s proposition!

7. Evaluate

Once the exhibition has finished, a good evaluation is essential for improving your fairs participation in the future and determining whether the next edition is worth attending or not.
Previously, we pointed out the importance of setting up KPIs before your participation. 
Now it’s time to evaluate them. 
Amount of new contacts you have made?
How many existing clients, partners and suppliers have visited your stand?
Number of giveaways? 

Did you close any deals or sales?

Discuss your KPIs, but also your gut feelings and individual feedback.
And remember: 
the percentage of contracts that you will close after gathering all the contact sheets and business cards will probably be smaller than expected, especially if there is no further follow-up
 – which leads to the next step…

8. Communicate 365 days!

Reaching your target group only at the trade fair does not guarantee success. 
Exhibitions are a good first touch point, but the hardest work starts afterwards!

Create an action plan to follow-up with all the contacts you made at the trade fair: 
prepare business proposals, schedule further meetings, invite them to your office or manufacturing facility, etc.

Bonus tip! If you have attended an international trade fair, it’s important to understand the local business culture. 
In some countries, people might prefer a face-to-face meeting or a phone call to an email. 
Don’t just send an email and sit back: keep insisting until you get a reply!

9. Thank everyone involved

We said it before: exhibitions can be long, exhausting and require a lot of preparation. 
It is possible that many of your colleagues had to work beyond their working hours – and maybe even during the weekend, as well. 
Make sure to thank them for their efforts: a day off or a company lunch would be nice gestures of appreciation.

Team bonding is definitely a nice side effect of participating in a trade fair!

Take this opportunity to also thank your visitors for stopping by your stand. 
Before getting down to business, tell them how much you appreciate them taking the time to pay you a visit.
You can even surprise them with a business gift – they probably met with many other exhibitors at the fair, so you need to stand out from your competitors (and business gifts are a great way to go). 
Check out our Top 10 original business gifts blog post if you need some fresh ideas.

10. Inform non-showers of what they missed

Last but not least! 
Take nice pictures and videos of your trade show participation and share them on your social media channels and company blog. 
Prepare an email template, along with a presentation of your lectures and demonstrations at the event, and send them to your entire database
 –  excluding those contacts who actually visited you at the fair, of course.

Apart from being a good branding exercise, it may also help you to wake up the interest of some old customers and partners.
They will regret not having visited you at the exhibition – and will be looking forward to getting back in business with you!

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