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5 Top Tips for Exhibiting at a Trade Show

Posted By:

XL Displays


12 September 2016

Reading Time:

9 Mins

This news article is also featured in:

Exhibition Tips

5 Top Tips for Exhibiting at a Trade Show

Trade shows are events of various sizes that companies in a specific industry attend to demonstrate their latest products and services, meet with industry leaders and influencers and also to examine market trends and opportunities. Trade shows can range from small events like local business networking to large national and international events such as CES (Consumer Electronic Show).

Exhibiting at trade shows is a fantastic way to get your business in front of hundreds of other businesses and consumers that are interested in your industry. This fact alone means that trade shows are often more rewarding than generic business exhibitions.

Here are our 5 top tips for exhibiting at a trade show:

  • Let People Know You’ll Be There

While you’ll be meeting plenty of new faces at the trade show, it’s important to let the people that already follow your business know that you’re going to be there. It is also important to let people know that they are welcome to come and meet with you.

You can include details of the event in newsletters you send out or create an email specifically to let people know where you’ll be, when it is and what you’ll be doing there. Another good way is to include details of the event in all of your employees email signatures. If your team sends outbound emails often you’re sure to catch the attention of a few people that may want to meet you and your team.

Finally, make sure you are taking full advantage of social media. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the big ones you don’t want to miss, but if you have Google+, Pinterest, YouTube or any other social accounts too there’s no reason why you can’t post there too.

  • What are Your Objectives? 

Setting objectives is an important part of any event and the system that most people use to establish good objectives is S.M.A.R.T. This stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

You may come up with some broad objectives, such as to generate sales, you should then apply S.M.A.R.T to them. For example, how many sales specifically would you like to generate? Are the sales from this event measurable? Is generating this many sales attainable or realistic? And finally what is the time-period you would like to generate these sales in?

Here are a few different broad objectives you could consider for your upcoming trade show, which you can then make S.M.A.R.T:

  • Generating sales
  • Improving relationships with customers
  • Building brand awareness
  • Launching new products
  • Conducting market research
  • Improving PR and media relations

With established S.M.A.R.T objectives you will be more likely to achieve them, and you will also be able to track the outcome of the objectives.

  • Prepare Your Staff

The first step to preparing your trade show staff, is choosing the right people. Ideally you want people who are experienced in working trade shows and people that actually want to attend. People that don’t want to attend are more likely to have a negative attitude during the event which will have a negative effect on your performance as a whole. We recommend at least two staff members minimum to allow for breaks and lunches.

Once you have your trade show team assembled, you need to make them aware of your goals and S.M.A.R.T objectives for the event. Knowing overall objectives for the exhibition will help staff to be more focused on achieving those objectives.

Next, your team should be knowledgeable on the product or service you are promoting. If they don’t already know about the product/service, then set up training sessions in advance to ensure everyone fully understands the product. This is important as they are guaranteed to be asked questions by visitors, not being able to answer any questions will reflect negatively on your business.

Finally, you should have a uniform or dress code prepared for the event. It is important to look professional at all times, which applies to both clothing and body language.

  • Marketing Materials and Promotional Products

Your literature and marketing materials, such as brochures and business cards need to be visually appealing and striking. The majority of exhibition literature that people collect at exhibitions never makes it back to their office. This is why yours need to stand out among the crowd.

Try to get a rough idea of how many pieces of literature/give away items will be required on the day, the last thing you want is to run out. Any remaining marketing materials should be kept and used for future events.

See our Exhibition Stand Giveaway Ideas article for help choosing which items to give away at your next event.

With your promotional products you can also run small competitions and games to gather more contacts and leads. One of the most common ones is a simple business card draw to win a prize. Here attendees leave you their business card and at a set time you will pick a winner at random from the business cards that have been left.

Let us know if you have any interesting exhibition giveaway or competition ideas on Twitter or Facebook.

  • Following Up and Debriefing

Following up is the most important part of any trade show as it can lead to sales. Without following up your return on investment for the event will plummet. A 2010 study concluded that less than 70 percent of exhibitors have a formal plan for following up leads after the trade show.

Follow up quickly, a professional email or phone call the day after the event will help you to stand out from other businesses that may take a few days or even weeks to make contact. Following up is also a great way to categorise leads from cold leads to hot leads. Using this information your sales team can determine who needs immediate contact.

Your follow up emails are a great place to remind recipients of the show. Include any important announcements you made at the event such as new product launches, as well as imagery of your exhibition stand so people are more likely to remember who you are. These emails should also be personalised for each recipient, include their name as well as the name, phone number and email address of the sales person assigned to them.

The last thing to do is to debrief everyone involved. Here you can determine what went well, what mistakes were made and how you can improve for your next event. Here are a few of the questions we suggest asking in your debrief:


  • What did the event attendees find most important? E.g. marketing literature or a sales person to talk to
  • What went well overall?
  • What went wrong overall?
  • How can you improve for your next event?
  • What issues did staff members/event attendees come across?


There is not one specific way to debrief your team, so think of some questions relevant to your trade show that will provide you with the most information to improve on for next time.

At XL Displays we are experts in portable exhibition equipment and bespoke exhibition stand design. For more information, please contact us or call on 01733 511030.