7 Essential Steps to Planning Trade Shows and Exhibits

If you’re looking to increase awareness of your business and generate new leads, then a trade show could be a great opportunity. However, preparation is key – if you don’t plan properly, you’re likely to waste time and money. This blog post will outline seven essential steps to successfully planning trade shows and exhibitions. By following these tips, you can ensure that your time at the event is well spent and that you achieve your desired results. Let’s get started!

Understanding Trade Shows and Exhibitions

Trade shows and exhibitions serve as a platform for businesses to demonstrate their products, negotiate deals, and build relationships. In these gatherings, companies showcase their latest offerings to a targeted audience. By this means, a brand nurtures connections with potential clients, aligns itself with industry peers, and gains insights about market trends.

An essential aspect of trade shows is the ability for businesses to interact face-to-face with potential customers. Direct interactions strengthen a company’s standing in the competitive business landscape. During these exchanges, companies broadcast their core values, demonstrate their product’s value, and engage in real-time discussions.

Strategically, trade shows and exhibitions offer businesses an opportunity to reinforce their market presence, verify industry trends, and, importantly, observe competitor strategies first-hand. As such, your brand’s participation in these events isn’t just a promotional activity but a strategic maneuver crucial to business growth and sustainability.

Involvement in trade shows implies a commitment to your industry, indicating your brand’s stability and intent to contribute. Being among other industry players fosters knowledge exchange, encourages collaboration, and nurtures robust professional networking circles.

Understanding the functioning and dynamism of trade shows and exhibitions enhances your strategy and planning, extending your brand’s reach and impact. It isn’t merely an affair of renting space, setting up an impressive booth, and distributing promotional materials.

Embrace it as a strategic initiative, an event to understand your business landscape, grasp new opportunities, penetrate new markets, or launch new products. With this perspective, your brand heads into any trade show or exhibition geared for success.

The Planning Process for Trade Shows and Exhibitions

Planning for trade shows and exhibitions isn’t a piece of cake. It demands strategic insights, detailed programming, and relentless executions. Here’s a walkthrough of the planning process.

  • Identify Business Objectives: First, identify your business goals. Be it heightening brand awareness, launching new products, or strengthening customer relationships, defining objectives guides each step of your planning process.
  • Select Appropriate Events: Next, select the right events. From industry-specific trade shows, global exhibitions, to local fairs, your choice depends on your business objectives and targeted audience. For instance, if you intend to tap into a global customer base, consider participating in international exhibitions.
  • Design an Exceptional Booth: Then, focus on your booth design. A visually arresting, professionally designed booth, blending aesthetics and functionality, tends to attract more footfall. Include engaging displays, informational handouts, and interactive demonstrations in your booth layout.
  • Develop a Deployment Plan: Set up a logistics plan. Consider factors like transportation, accommodation, and booth assembly and disassembly. Hinging on the event’s scale and location, this can be either a local task or an international undertaking.
  • Create a Marketing Strategy: Construct an effective promotional plan. Harness pre-event publicity options such as event directories, press releases, and social media campaigns. During the event, engage in on-site promotions, such as live product demonstrations and customer interaction.
  • Prepare Your Team: Train your team aptly. Encourage professional and respectful interaction with visitors. Emphasize product knowledge, customer service skills, and the ability to answer potential customer questions with conviction.
  • Follow up: Finally, engage in diligent post-event follow up. A well-crafted email or a personalized phone call can convert leads into loyal customers.

Remember, trade shows and exhibitions, while beneficial, can be resource-consuming. It’s essential to plan meticulously to maximize opportunities and successfully achieve your business objectives. Stay organized, prepare early, and remain flexible to adapt to real-time changes. In doing so, you’ll drive an impactful presence at trade shows and exhibitions, amplifying your brand visibility and credibility dramatically.

Effective Strategies to Attract Visitors

Visitors remain a vital part of achieving business objectives at trade shows and exhibitions. As you strategize your exhibition planning, integrating significant methods to attract these attendees emerges as an essential component. Below are the top strategies that ensure a steady influx of visitors at your booth.

  1. Develop Engaging Booth Design: Articulate your brand’s story visually through thoughtful booth design. Strategically arranged elements like company logos, product displays, and informational videos attract attention. Take, for example, a company that specializes in green energy solutions can have an animated display of wind turbines.
  2. Promote Pre-Event: Leverage digital platforms like social media, emails, and your company website to build anticipation before the event. Create a countdown, share exciting teasers of what’s to expect at your booth, or invite them to exclusive booth events that spark curiosity.
  3. Incorporate Technology: Capitalize on exciting technological advancements. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) demonstrations, touch screen information kiosks, or interactive product simulations engage visitors, draw crowds, and offer unique, memorable experiences.
  4. Initiate Contests and Giveaways: These age-old tactics are continuously effective. Sourcing a few quality giveaways, such as custom-branded products, can attract an impressive number of visitors. Planning competitions that relate to your key offerings or industry also creates buzz and attracts visitors. For instance, an electronics company can hold a gadget assembling competition.
  5. Engage in Live Demonstrations: Adequately display your products or services in action during live demonstrations. Observing the product in action informs visitors better than simply viewing the product. For instance, a skincare brand can showcase the immediate results of their latest face mask.
  6. Plan for Effective Networking: Visitors appreciate personal interaction with business professionals. Training the event team to engage with attendees, answer their queries adequately, or show them around the booth significantly impacts visitor numbers.
  7. Allocate Adequate Signage: Prominent, clear signage effectively directs visitors to your booth. Particularly at a large trade show, easy-to-spot signs prove essential in attracting attendees.

Remember, the trade show or exhibition provides a platform to influence and convince potential clients. When planned and conducted effectively, these strategies can yield significant visitor numbers, impacting business objectives significantly.

How to Make Negotiations & Deals at Trade Shows

Seizing opportunities for negotiation and deal-making at trade shows proves pivotal. But don’t play it by ear or leave it to chance. Adopt a structured approach and formulate effective strategies.

Make the first move. Approach your prospective customer or partner without hesitation. Maintaining an active posture rather than a reactive one allows for better control over the direction of the negotiation process. Defining your goals becomes the first step. Firmly understand what you hope to gain from the interaction — be it a contract renewal, new business deal, better pricing, or expanded collaborations. Having clear, precise objectives empowers you to negotiate confidently.

Foster connections with an empathetic approach by validating their needs and concerns. Empathy communicates respect for their viewpoint, which can facilitate negotiation outcomes. Mutual trust and respect can create a collaborative atmosphere conducive to win-win deal-making.

Monitor non-verbal cues, such as body language and tone of voice, as 93% of human communication is non-verbal, as per a study by Dr. Albert Mehrabian. These cues can convey sentiments and intent, thereby contributing to your interpretation and response strategy.

Practice active listening. This involves not just hearing, but understanding and absorbing the information imparted by the other party. It aids in identifying their needs, concerns, and negotiation expectations.

Channel patience and resilience. Negotiations may at times progress slower than your preference or face challenges. Yet, maintaining a cool head, demonstrating understanding, and staying persistent can steer the negotiation towards a fruitful resolution.

Prepare well for negotiation meetings. Having data at hand, such as industry benchmarks, competitors’ offerings, and market trends, fortifies your negotiating position. Comprehensive knowledge about your products and services is also paramount.

Consult a legal expert before signing any deal at a trade show. Law professionals can ensure all legal aspects are considered and that the contract is fair and balanced.

Overall, cultivating the right mindset, honing your communication skills, undertaking thorough preparations, and staying patient and persistent can potentially steer the negotiation toward a desirable outcome.

Post-Show Activities and Follow-ups

Having navigated the hustle and bustle of trade shows and exhibitions, it’s essential to direct your energy towards valuable post-event activities and follow-ups. Here’s what you can implement to extend the success of your trade show experience:

  1. Evaluate Your Performance: After the event wraps up, take a moment to reflect and assess your performance. Evaluate your booth’s traffic, lead numbers, and quality, noticing if you’ve met your predefined objectives. Analyse visitor feedback, staff performance, and return on investment as indicators of your success.
  2. Organize the Collected Data: From business cards to filled out forms, you likely have a heap of information. Quickly sort and categorize it so that it becomes functional. This organization expedites the follow-up process and ensures a streamlined approach.
  3. Personalize Your Follow-up Initiatives: When reaching out to leads or potential business contacts from the show, maintain a personalized approach. Mention specifics from your discussion at the event, reinforcing the value proposition and offering a memorable interaction.
  4. Using Timely Communication: Initiate communication within a week after the show concludes. Immediate action demonstrates your professionalism and respect for the contact’s time. An effective approach may involve sending a thank you note, follow-up emails, or scheduling a call or a meeting.
  5. Track Your Leads: Following up is crucial, but so is tracking your leads through your sales cycle. A dedicated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can help keep this process organized and efficient.
  6. Analyze Feedback: Feedback from attendees offers valuable insight. Whether it’s praise, criticism, or suggestions, each piece of information aids in better planning for future shows. Compile the feedback, and apply it constructively to enhance your trade show strategies.
  7. Plan for the Next Event: Take this post-show downtime as an opportunity to plan for future exhibitions. Utilize your evaluation results and feedback analysis to improve upcoming strategies, booth design, and team performance.

Remember, post-show activities and follow-up are as important as the preparations before entering the exhibition hall. These efforts help consolidate your trade show achievements, ensuring impactful business development and fostering successful relationships.

Our Steps to Planning Trade Shows and Exhibits

1. Define Your Goals

Before considering which trade show or exhibition to attend, you need to take a step back and consider your goals. What do you hope to achieve by exhibiting at a trade show? Are you looking to generate new leads? Increase brand awareness? Drive sales? Once you know your goals, you can start planning how best to achieve them.

When setting your goals, it’s also important to be realistic. It’s unlikely that you’ll achieve all your objectives in one go – focus on a few key goals that you think are achievable. And remember, your goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

2. Choose the Right Trade Show or Exhibition

With your goals in mind, you can start looking for trade shows and exhibitions relevant to your industry. Thousands of events occur every year, so selective is essential. Consider factors such as the size of the event, the location, the type of attendees, and the cost of exhibiting.

Once you’ve shortlisted a few events, you should visit their websites and social media pages to get a feel for the event. You can also contact the organizers directly to ask any questions you might have.

3. Book Early

Once you’ve decided which trade show or exhibition to attend, booking your space as soon as possible is essential. Many events can get booked up months in advance, so you don’t want to miss out. When booking, confirm the details of your space, such as the size, location, and price.

4. Start Planning Your Exhibit

Now that your space is booked, it’s time to start planning your exhibit. This is where you’ll need to get creative and think about how you can make your booth stand out from the crowd. First, consider your branding – how can you incorporate your logo and colors? Then, start brainstorming ideas for your display, such as graphics, signage, product samples, giveaways, etc.

If you’re struggling with ideas, consider what other businesses are doing. Attend trade shows and exhibitions as a visitor to get some inspiration. And don’t forget to think outside the box – sometimes the best displays are the unexpected ones.

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5. Prepare Your Marketing Materials

In addition to your exhibit, you’ll also need to prepare your marketing materials. This could include business cards, brochures, flyers, and product catalogs. Ensure all your materials are up-to-date and relevant to your event. If you’re exhibiting at multiple events, having different versions of your materials for each one is a good idea. This way, you can tailor your message to your target audience.

6. Train Your Staff

Your exhibit is almost ready – but don’t forget about your staff! They’ll be representing your company at the event, so it’s important to ensure they’re prepared. This means providing them with training on your products or services and your goals for the event. You should also give them tips on talking to customers and handling sales inquiries.

7. Follow Up with Leads

After the trade show or exhibition, it’s important to follow up with any leads you’ve generated. Send them an email or call to thank them for their interest in your company. Then, keep the conversation going by sharing additional information about your products or services.

By following these seven essential steps, you can ensure that your company has a successful experience at any trade show or exhibition. By preparing and planning properly, you can ensure that your goals are met and that you generate new leads and sales. So what are you waiting for? Start planning today!


Trade shows and exhibitions can be a great way to generate leads, increase brand awareness, and drive sales. However, exhibiting at these events requires careful planning and execution. By following these seven essential steps, you can ensure that your company has a successful experience.

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