Should You Exhibit at a Trade Show?

I suspect many of you are on your way to a trade show, just getting back from a trade show or are wonder if you should exhibit in a trade show.

After sales reps, trade shows are one of the best ways to get your products in front of potential buyers.  But trade shows are not for the faint at heart!  Lots of time, work, and money can go into a trade show, so if you are not ready, wait until you are!

The best way to prepare for a trade show is to visit one.  Now, trade shows are just that – trade shows.  You will need to contact the show management and tell them that you want to visit the show and why.  In our case, we have a retail website and presented ourselves as buyers (and, of course, we had to prove that with records past wholesale purchases, business cards etc.).

Another way to attend a trade show is as a ‘friend’ or helper of qualified buyer.  If you know your local gift shop owner/buyer, this may be an excellent opportunity for you to take in a show together.

23If you have never been to a wholesale trade show, you might be overwhelmed at all the booths, people and things to see.  Let me help you narrow down the things to look for:

  • First collect all the free literature and resources from the show sponsors, normally available in or near the registration booth when you first come in.  Make sure to check out racks of trade publications scattered around the front area.  You will find a wealth of information in these items.
  • Second, find booths which feature items similar to your own.  Check out their presentation:  displays, literature, and products.  What is working for them?  What ideas can you incorporate into your own business and/or show booth?
  • Third, observe the interaction between exhibitors and buyers.  Who is getting the best response from attendees and what are they doing to get this response?
  • Fourth, watch the booths you are drawn to.  What have they done differently?  Why were you drawn to them?
  • Fifth, talk with the show sponsors about having a booth in their next trade show.  These folks are an excellent source of information and are mostly open to helping you (if they are not busy checking in attendees).
  • Sixth, and just as important as the rest, attend any classes, workshops or presentation open to show attendees.  You will be amazed at what you might learn there.

The Arts Business Institute wrote a checklist to help you prepare for a exhibiting at a trade show.  Knowing some of these items upfront will also be helpful in planning ahead.

Trade Show Strategies: Prepare your Checklist


Interested in more info on exhibiting in wholesale trade shows?  Check out my Trade Show Exhibiting Secrets eGuide!

3 comments for “Should You Exhibit at a Trade Show?

  1. April 20, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Great advice and one that I have not heard beorfe. I am reconsidering doing some shows and will definitely plan my booth space with this in mind. Thank you for sharing and showing. Your booth looked very inviting, clean and simple to understand. By giving us the visual from different angles and not just talking gave more impact on the importance of what you were saying. Thank you for caring.

  2. April 22, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Thanks for your kind words and good luck to you!

  3. August 19, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Great advice. Even though you aren’t an exhibitor though, be sure to bring something to pass out of your own. Trade shows are a great place to network.

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