Trade show

How to make your trade show great?

An Exhibition or trade show is an opportunity for face to face meetings with a large number of people, in a defined time period. They are useful for meeting and talking with prospects, existing customers, and suppliers. So here is a list to make your trade show a success.

Trade show exhibitors checklist:


First, you must understand the reasons and expectations for exhibiting at the show. It is important that you visit the intended show the previous year(s) and in the same venue and location. Look at the layout for preferable stand locations. Agree on some measurements that can be used to measure the success of the show for your business.
Notify your audience of the show and you’re exhibiting and why it would be beneficial for them to visit. Give them a real incentive to visit the show and in particular your stand. Offer them something on your stand, a free cup of coffee at least, a discussion on your new product launch, some education or presentation, but make sure you inform them of the benefit.

Ask existing customers and prospects to visit the show. Don’t be afraid to ask existing customers. They may well be going to the show anyway. Also, make sure you have something to offer them as well as prospects. It may be a different offer.  Be refreshing and use new materials.

Make a plan for the weeks and months leading to the show involving all your marketing tools. This really is integrated marketing. Use the likes of mail, email, and social media to promote and discuss the show. In fact right up to the day of the show and during, keep your communications sharing information about the exhibition. Ask customers to make an appointment – have a sitting area for more intimate discussions and refreshments. Try to formalise the show, with set times for meetings and product presentation or demonstrations. Generate a professional buzz about the stand.

Plan your stand. Try to make your stand as eye-catching as possible, with some kind of interaction. Visitors love to see things moving or operating. Make sure the visitor is in any doubt what your business offers – whatever you do it should be clear to the passer-by. You want people to understand your offer.

Place exhibition details on email signatures and press releases in the media. Make sure you have an enticing exhibition directory article in the pre-show guides. Many times these can be bland and corporate. It is important to tell people about your business, your providence, and experience but quickly get onto why they should be visiting your stand to discuss their business. Don’t use the same words as you use for every show you exhibit.

Before the show begins, make sure all staff, both on the stand and in the office, know of the purpose of the show and the messages that need to be conveyed. How are they going to operate? Have you got enquiry forms, brochures, what happens to them etc.?

Have you organised refreshments, including coffee or lunch?

During show

Make sure all staff are briefed on the messages and expectations of the show. Make sure you have the most appropriate way to keep details of visitors contact details, including staple for business cards to contact forms or the bar code readers with the ability to apply notes for follow up.

Ensure stand staff are suitably attired, maybe with a coordinated and company branded look. Give your staff training in greeting visitors; both once on the stand or as they are passing. Ask them to engage in polite exchanges to maximise the number of genuine leads. This means being courteous to enquires, but not wasting too much time on “tyre kickers” – this is not easy. Listen to visitors, enquire – don’t waste their time or yours going into a pitch or product demonstration until you have qualified.

Have a policy on: coffee and lunch breaks, what is given out in literature rather getting contact details and posting them. Don’t allow staff to be slouched over their stand chatting, drinking coffee, this just looks unappealing and unprofessional to a visitor.

Make sure press releases are put in the appropriate location for collection. Make these enticing for the press to enquire at your stand. If this is the case have a person allocated for dealing with press rather than the normal geographic salesperson.

Ensure to have a debrief every day to agree what went well and if anything could be improved. Also, have a briefing every morning to introduce new members and discuss improvements.

Make sure someone is allocated to visit other exhibitors, looking for customers, potential, competitors, and partners. The findings from these excursions should be reported promptly in writing, and if necessary with action, which may include visiting other stands for follow up during the show.

Organise for someone and somewhere for the collection and safekeeping of the leads and enquiries. The procedure for the processing of these should be agreed before the start of the show. Make sure every possible piece of information for every lead is gathered. In this digital world email, and websites as well as telephone numbers and geographic location. Load these onto a CRM system or spreadsheet for ease.

Sending a thank you email after each day of the show to all those that visited your stand, with your contact details, web address, and if possible a personalised action note of what has been agreed to happen next. It may be more appropriate to send a thank you note by mail.

Always endure at the exhibition end, everything is tidy, cleared and away at the end of each day. Usually, everyone is tired, but make sure literature and exhibition stand is returned ready for the next day or next show. Clean it now rather than allow it to collect dust and become unusable.


There is usually relief that the show has passed, however, it is now that the real work starts.

Make sure notes are made from discussions on how things could have been done differently or improved.

Next, make sure that you carry out any agreed action. Whether it is to send literature, a quote, a follow-up call – make sure it is done. Follow up everything.

Perhaps carry out a survey (easily done with internet) on your visitor’s thoughts and comments?

Constantly review the results of the process of the exhibition leads. Try to gain as much evidence on the exhibition to compare to your initial expectations and measurements. It is tempting to ask staff and customers for their view, which is fine, however back these with quantitative data.

You may consider purchasing the exhibition organisers visitor list. (You may have agreed to this in the original stand price – worth considering for negotiation) Decide if it is appropriate for you to contact this list. By far your best list is your own generated visitor list. You may have also agreed at pre-show level to be involved in the exhibitors’ organiser’s communications to visitors about your business.

If you need assistance in organising your exhibition or exhibitor stand then please call us on 01296 715 288