How to prepare for your next trade show

exhibition booth

Exhibiting at a trade show can be an exciting and profitable way to promote your business, showcase your products or services, and connect with potential customers and partners. However, preparing for a trade show requires careful planning, attention to detail, and a lot of hard work. In this blog post, we will share some tips and best practices on how to prepare to exhibit at a trade show and make the most of your investment.

  1. Choose the Right Trade Show

The first step in preparing for a trade show is to choose the right one for your business. You want to select a trade show that aligns with your target audience, industry, and goals. Research the different trade shows in your niche, evaluate their attendance and exhibitor demographics, and consider the cost, location, and timing of each event.

Some questions to consider when choosing a trade show are:

  • Who is the target audience for this trade show?
  • Is this trade show focused on my industry or niche?
  • How many attendees and exhibitors are expected to participate?
  • What is the cost of exhibiting at this trade show, and what is included?
  • What are the dates and location of the trade show?
  • How does this trade show fit into my overall marketing and sales strategy?

Once you have selected a trade show, you can start preparing for it by defining your goals, creating a budget, and planning your exhibit.

  1. Define Your Goals

Before you start preparing for a trade show, you need to define your goals and objectives. What do you hope to achieve by exhibiting at the trade show? Are you looking to generate leads, increase brand awareness, launch a new product, or network with other professionals in your industry?

By setting clear and measurable goals, you can align your trade show strategy with your overall business objectives and evaluate your success after the event. Some common goals for trade show exhibitors are:

  • Generate leads and sales
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Launch a new product or service
  • Showcase your expertise and thought leadership
  • Network with potential customers, partners, and suppliers
  • Research your competitors and industry trends
  • Build relationships with the media and influencers
  • Recruit new employees or partners

Once you have defined your goals, you can start planning your exhibit and messaging to achieve them.

  1. Create a Budget

Exhibiting at a trade show can be a significant investment, so it’s essential to create a budget that includes all the costs involved. Some of the expenses you may incur when exhibiting at a trade show are:

  • Booth rental and construction
  • Shipping and handling of your exhibit materials
  • Travel and accommodation for your staff
  • Marketing materials, such as brochures, banners, and giveaways
  • Electrical and internet connections
  • Insurance and security
  • Show services, such as carpeting, cleaning, and drayage

To create an accurate budget, you need to research the costs of each item and factor in any hidden or unexpected fees. You should also allocate some funds for contingency and unforeseen expenses, such as last-minute changes or emergencies.

By creating a budget, you can prioritize your spending and avoid overspending or underspending on critical items. You can also evaluate the return on investment (ROI) of your trade show participation and make informed decisions for future events.

  1. Plan Your Exhibit

Your exhibit is your face and voice at the trade show, so you want to make sure it stands out and attracts your target audience. Your exhibit should reflect your brand identity, messaging, and goals, and provide a memorable and engaging experience for attendees.

Some elements to consider when planning your exhibit are:

  • Booth design and layout: Your booth should be eye-catching, functional, and easy to navigate. You can use a variety of materials, such as fabric, graphics, lighting, and interactive displays, to create a visually appealing and interactive environment.
  • Messaging and branding: Your exhibit should communicate your brand story, value proposition, and key messages effectively. You can use a combination of graphics, signage, and digital displays to showcase your products or services, testimonials, and awards.
  • Staffing and training: Your booth staff should be knowledgeable, friendly, and well-trained on your products or services, industry trends, and the trade show schedule. You can also provide them with uniforms, badges, and incentives to enhance their professionalism and engagement with attendees.
  • Giveaways and promotions: Your booth should offer some incentives or giveaways to attract and retain attendees’ attention. You can use promotional items, such as pens, notepads, or bags, to reinforce your brand and provide value to attendees. You can also run contests, demos, or special offers to encourage attendees to visit your booth and engage with your staff.
  • Technology and connectivity: Your exhibit should have reliable and secure technology and connectivity to support your digital marketing and sales efforts. You can use tablets, smartphones, or laptops to showcase your website, social media, or e-commerce platform. You can also use lead capture software, such as scanners or forms, to collect attendees’ contact information and follow up with them after the event.

By planning your exhibit strategically, you can create a positive and memorable impression on attendees and achieve your trade show goals effectively.

  1. Promote Your Presence

To maximise your trade show investment, you need to promote your presence before, during, and after the event. By raising awareness and excitement about your exhibit, you can attract more attendees to your booth, generate more leads and sales, and increase your brand visibility and reputation.

Some ways to promote your presence at a trade show are:

  • Social media: Use social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, to announce your participation in the trade show, share sneak peeks of your exhibit, and engage with attendees and influencers. You can also use hashtags and mentions to join the conversation and amplify your reach.
  • Email marketing: Use email marketing campaigns to invite your customers, prospects, and partners to visit your booth, offer them exclusive incentives, and share your trade show schedule and updates. You can also use email marketing to follow up with attendees after the event and nurture your leads and relationships.
  • PR and media outreach: Use public relations and media outreach to secure media coverage and interviews with journalists, bloggers, and influencers in your industry. You can offer them exclusive stories, data, or insights, and use their platforms to amplify your message and reach new audiences.
  • Advertising: Use targeted advertising, such as Google AdWords, LinkedIn ads, or Facebook ads, to promote your presence and offers to specific audiences, such as trade show attendees, industry professionals, or decision-makers. You can also use retargeting ads to follow up with visitors to your website or social media pages and remind them of your booth.

By promoting your presence effectively, you can maximize your trade show ROI and create a lasting impact on attendees and stakeholders.

  1. Follow Up and Evaluate

After the trade show, your work is not done yet. You need to follow up with your leads, partners, and attendees, and evaluate your trade show performance to identify areas of improvement and success.

Some ways to follow up with your trade show contacts are:

  • Email marketing: Use email marketing to thank attendees for visiting your booth, provide them with additional information or offers, and ask for their feedback or suggestions. You can also use email marketing to nurture your leads and build relationships with them.
  • Phone calls: Use phone calls to follow up with your most promising leads or partners and schedule meetings or demos with them. You can also use phone calls to clarify any questions or concerns attendees may have had about your products or services.
  • Social media: Use social media to share your trade show experience, photos, and highlights, and engage with attendees and influencers. You can also use social media to thank attendees for visiting your booth, share testimonials or reviews, and invite them to connect with you on other platforms.
  • Surveys and feedback forms: Use surveys and feedback forms to collect attendees’ feedback on your exhibit, staff, messaging, and promotions, and identify areas of improvement and success. You can also use surveys to gather insights on attendees’ needs, preferences, and challenges, and tailor your future marketing and sales efforts accordingly.

By following up with your trade show contacts effectively, you can nurture your leads, build relationships with your partners and attendees, and reinforce your brand reputation and value.

In addition to following up with your contacts, you also need to evaluate your trade show performance and ROI to justify your investment and plan for future events.

Some ways to evaluate your trade show performance are:

  • Sales and lead metrics: Measure your sales and lead metrics, such as the number of leads generated, the number of deals closed, and the revenue generated, to assess your trade show ROI and compare it to your goals and expectations.
  • Booth traffic and engagement: Measure your booth traffic and engagement, such as the number of attendees who visited your booth, the time they spent there, and the interactions they had with your staff and displays, to assess your exhibit’s effectiveness and identify areas of improvement and success.
  • Brand awareness and reputation: Measure your brand awareness and reputation, such as the number of attendees who were aware of your brand or recognized it from your exhibit, the feedback and testimonials you received, and the media coverage you secured, to assess your brand impact and influence.
  • Cost and budget analysis: Analyze your trade show costs and budget, such as the booth rental, staff travel and lodging, promotional items, and marketing expenses, to assess your overall investment and identify ways to optimise your spending and ROI.

By evaluating your trade show performance and ROI, you can learn from your successes and challenges, refine your strategies and tactics, and plan for your next trade show with confidence and clarity.


Preparing to exhibit at a trade show can be a daunting task, but with proper planning, execution, and evaluation, it can also be a rewarding and profitable experience. By setting clear goals, researching your target audience, designing a compelling exhibit, promoting your presence, and following up and evaluating your performance, you can maximize your trade show ROI, build relationships with your contacts, and reinforce your brand reputation and value.

Remember, trade shows are not just about showcasing your products or services, but also about creating a positive and memorable experience for your attendees and stakeholders. By focusing on their needs, preferences, and challenges, and offering them value, engagement, and inspiration, you can stand out from your competitors and create a lasting impact on your industry.

Good luck with your next trade show, and don’t forget to have fun!