How can your business get the most out of a trade show?

- - Marketing

It’s quite easy to think that attending a trade show is the perfect opportunity to get out of the office and relax. However, to take this view is to miss out on the chance to significantly promote your business, establish contacts and potentially generate custom.

According to research undertaken by the Association of Event Organisers’ FaceTime magazine, using the latest available data, 1.75 million people attended UK trade shows in 2010. If you’re considering attending an industry event, you need to ensure you have undertaken sufficient planning well in advance.

Be prepared

If you work in an owner-managed business and you do not think it could function without you, consider hiring temporary help or asking a friend or family member to step in. Even if this is not possible, it is still likely it will be in your best interests to shut down for a day to attend a relevant trade show.

The first – and perhaps most important – thing to consider is if the exhibition in question is of relevance to your particular business. There is very little benefit in attending an event that is not focussed on your industry as the products on show, seminars and people you meet will all have extremely limited relevance to your company.

Once you have decided on the show you will attend, it is important to plan how you will spend your time there. In some cases, it is possible to pre-register, potentially avoiding a lot of confusion and the time-consuming processes common on arrival at an event.

Furthermore, look to create appointments with any vendor you would like to make sure you meet, as well as making a list of the items, if any, you would like to purchase on the day. This way, you will make sure you get the things you need and it may be possible to group your orders together to take advantage of discounts and potential savings.

Highlight the seminars you wish to attend and make sure you are aware of the times they start and end, planning the rest of your day around them. Again, if it is possible, look to book your place at these talks in advance to make sure you do not miss out.


When you arrive at the show, check to see if the latest copy of the guide has been made available. The timings of some events may have changed at the last minute, so be sure to check those that you wish to attend.

If you are given a name badge, make sure it is displayed prominently and in a position that will be visible to the people you meet throughout the day. There is potential to strike up valuable business relationships with a wide range of people at the show, from those giving seminars to stallholders and fellow attendees.

It is a good idea to bring along some personalised promotional products to give away at the event, such as printed canvas bags. These are an extremely useful item at trade shows because attendees often pick up product samples, catalogues and marketing literature throughout the course of the event.

Another good idea is to hand out pens and notepads, as these are items many attendees forget to bring along, but find extremely useful to make notes as they peruse stalls or attend seminars.


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