21 Key Steps For A Successful Trade Show By ModelWorks Direct


Trade shows are a great investment for every growing business. It is a presentation organized by companies in a particular industry to promote and showcase their most recent products and services, gather with business partners and clients, learn the actions of competitors, and study the latest market trends. Preparing for a successful trade show is never simple and easy; it needs a sense of creativity, strong organizational skills, and a pile of flexibility. The level of effort you exerted into planning, organizing and making it happen measure how victorious the result is. Aside from that, the number of leads, opportunities, and Return On Investment (ROI) also determines its success rate.

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Showcasing your goods and services in a global trade show is an effective technique to expand your international market share. If your product is very large, you can opt for a Custom Scale Model. Aside from it helps you promote your product to the public; it is also a good approach to be aware of the newest trends in your industry. On the other hand, taking part in an international trade show needs a sure financial plan and the expected ROI will not be met if you are unready and careless.  It needs a lot of preparation. Setting up must start no less than three to four months to be sure of a successful outcome. There are bunches of competitors and it is possible to be overwhelmed and get lost in the ocean of booths and excited participants. As there are a lot of variables and difficulties involved in trade shows, hence planning is an important part of the general process. Hence there are several strategies to be considered to meet the goal and guarantee a great result.


The SXSW conference is one of the most famous and successful trade shows that happen every year in Austin, Texas, by Southern Airlines. Prominent companies like Twitter and Foursquare were able to increase their sales because of the excellent promotional approach they used during this event. Due to our advanced technology, many businesses are now being conducted online, giving more opportunities to discover and expand innovative business connections and find new products.

If you have no idea yet on how to start a trade show, here are some key steps to ensure a successful result.


1- Know your objectives and plan your finances.


Identifying why you are doing this event is the primary step of a victorious trade show. It will depend upon your goal and intentions— boosting brand awareness, increasing sales and profits, or introducing a new product. Be conscious of summits and conventions for those are great places to gain visibility. While it is essential to first consider your financial plan, do not compromise your business’ name for affordable short term preparations. It may seem inexpensive and promising but always take into consideration if it will damage your brand in the long run. 


Besides, pre-show promotion planning is a plus. Are you opening a new store on the same day as the show?  Are you going to introduce a new product? Do you have any great news to announce? You can start sending emails or posting placards for your targets to be informed about your plans during the event. Through this, they will have something to look forward to visiting your booth. You want to make them aware of your presence by using several platforms to announce significant news, teasers, and chances to meet the team.


2- Make your choice.


Planning ahead of time is ineffective without execution. As soon as you made your choice, you can move on to other plans you have in mind. But, it does not mean that you will not think about all the pros and cons of each option you have. Choose right away but do not let your immediate choices compromise the quality of your goals. Finding a venue one year before the event is also monetarily favorable, you can take advantage of some early bird’s prices and rates. 


3- Prepare in advance.


One of the most crucial parts of organizing a trade show is planning. It is best if you prepare ahead of the scheduled time to have more moments to brainstorm with your team. Through planning, you can also give time for your staff to reserve a flight before the airfare increases its rate. Or book a room accommodation before it goes out of hand.

It is not just making a list of things you need to get or how to design your booth. Planning is also letting all the people involved know about your goals and objectives so they can also prepare on their own. Once you are sure of your goals, you can then start thinking of other things you need to do such as overarching messages and planning the theme.

Next, you must also pay attention to details, even the small ones like how your staff is going to dress or how they will converse with the attendees. This is all about making your company departments— sales, logistics, management, marketing and others aware of their roles and responsibilities.


4- Identifying your attendees.


The lists of people who are going to attend the event are available in advance. Try to do some research to determine which one may be attracted to your brand, and forward a short message about your business that may interest them. Make an effort by letting them know that you’d be glad to have them in your booth. However, avoid sending too many messages, or selling your products or services immediately. As much as possible, keep it friendly and welcoming.

Be familiar with your buyers or target audiences. Establishing buyer personas will not only make you identify the pain areas of your attendees but also let you discover new resolutions to their dilemmas. Through fully understanding them, you will know how they can be precisely targeted and pulled from the middle of the event into your booth. Once you are certain about the profile of your customers, you can now get along and talk to them in the event, as well as in the future.


5- Pick your best staff.


It is important to choose salespeople who can be an asset to your company especially during the trade show. Guide them comprehensively, carefully clarify the plans and the risks involved. To also motivate them to do their job beyond expectation, you can offer incentives or additional compensation that they will get upon completion of tasks. This will encourage and inspire them to work outside their comfort zone and perform outstandingly. Most importantly, bear in mind that your people are the best storefront for your company. The more comfortable your buyers get along with them, the more effective they will be.


6- Prepare your team.


Be sure that everyone in your team is on the same page and has everything needed ready ahead of time, including appropriate information, the products or services to be promoted, a list of things to do, and props to be used during the event. This also means that meetings and booth hours are noted on everyone’s calendar. You can also make logistic files to guarantee that everything is the right place and opportunities are communicated. This note should also have the contact list of each member just in case you need to get in touch with them. It is advisable to print out a few copies of the list for easy access, especially during the event.


Let everyone attend a “prep call” meeting that should be held a week before the actual event. Organize a slide deck and take account of housekeeping items including the venue, hotel, booth hours, dress code, and many more. Through this, you can ensure that all of your staff are ready and aware of their responsibilities. 


Be ready for possible questions. Unavoidably, your team will receive questions about the products and services you are promoting. Advise them to sound confident and knowledgeable at all times. To do so, make a list of frequently asked questions and have them study it so they can provide the answers with assurance. It is also vital to ask questions to those people approaching your booth. Business is not always about selling, you also need to create an equally favorable connection. Is your product benefits to them? The best way to identify is through building rapport. If in any case, it is not something they need, they may have someone in mind who can benefit from it and be your prospective buyer. 


7- Conduct pre-scheduled meetings


The most successful trade shows that happened in history were those events where the sales and marketing department worked as one, conducting pre-scheduled meetings to collaborate on ideas, set reasonable goals, and execute plans.

We recommend making a shared calendar to provide everyone the visibility of the booth’s schedules, making it easier to check which department is available during each day of the event.


8- Communicate.


Of course, no one wants to be a part of an exhibition that is not known by the public, especially your target buyers. Why would you participate in an event if nobody recognizes it? You can send information sheets to your database daily, making your audience aware of the trade show. Also, if you get a chance to speak at the show, make sure to talk about your plans and invite people to come to visit your booth. The more catching the content of your speech is, the more chances you have to be noticed and attract prospective buyers.    


9- Utilize social media platforms.


Using social media is one of the best ways to cascade information to the public. Nowadays, most people own social media accounts either for entertainment purposes or business-related. Post photos, blogs, and invitations to your database or public channels, including the things to expect and perks to get from stopping by your booth. Invite them to visit the event to get a giveaway, meet famous advertisers, watch a presentation, or perform in a contest. Just do not forget to incorporate your products and service to your post and include your booth number and hashtags for them to find you without difficulties.


10- Try to be on the list of speakers.


This is not an easy one. Of course, every exhibitor wants to have the chance to be a speaker. This means more opportunities for promoting your brand. This requires a lot of effort and preparation, however, try your luck and talk to the managing team and persuade them that you have an announcement to make that will surely attract more attendees.

If you made it and become a speaker, do not just promote and talk about your product, provide some informative statements and engage the audience through talking about something interesting.


11- Be physically and mentally ready.


Organizing and planning for a trade show can be physically and mentally exhausting. For outgoing people, it may not be a problem engaging in the hyper-social environment but, if you are more of a shy person; it is possible to find yourself running out of energy in the middle of the day.

Sleep well especially the night before the event, the day itself is a lot more tiring compared with the days you spent planning and organizing. Drink water and avoid drinking too many alcoholic beverages if it is being handed around during the trade show. Remember that you will be standing and sitting for a long period of time so it is a must to breathe some air and clear your mind.


12- Catch attention and be noticed.


Check the list of companies that will participate in the event. Through this, you will be able to do some research about your possible competitors as well as some potential suppliers and distributors. Create a record of businesses you want to convene, categorized by divisions and places: that will be simpler to pay a visit.

This will require you to think outside the box. Think of something that will let your business stand out from other competitors. It is recommended to let your audience participate to also attract the attention of the crowd. For example, host a contest that is connected to your brand and provide prizes.


13- Offer giveaways during the event.


It may be an additional expense to invest extra money in an offering or activity, but it is also one way to attract attendees to visit your booth. Be artistic and original to catch the attention of your prospective buyers. Some even get as far as cash prizes and shots of expensive tequila. You can also try promotional stuff like planners, pens, hats, or fans. If you can’t decide which one to get, remember that you can never go wrong if your giveaway involves food. Everyone loves eating. Buy piles of cupcakes or freshly baked cookies. Through this, you can start a conversation with the attendees and get a chance to find more buyers.

You can also consider giving samples of your products and services. Or you can propose something relevant to your brand. It will allow them to test it out first so they can consider purchasing them in the future.


It is not a secret anymore that we all love free stuff. Attendees are also expecting something in return aside from the opportunity to buy things that are beneficial to them. The more a person knows your offer, the more enthusiastic he or she will become to look for you and discover what it is all about. Sometimes, if a person has already tried your product, he or she will feel required to buy. It is not a crime to use the law of reciprocity in your gain.


14- Demonstrate your products or services.


Investing funds in a trade show is commendable just if you get to demonstrate a glance of your brand. Display your products in front of the booth, and hand out free samples to everyone. One of the objectives is to raise brand awareness, and ensure that your company will catch people’s attention.


15- Place comfortable seats next to your booth.


It is tiring for the attendees to roam around the event; placing comfortable seats next to your booth is an invitation for them to stop by and rest their legs first. Through this, you will get an opportunity to build connections with your potential buyers and start introducing your products and services. This will also keep them in your booth longer and it is a nice place to talk about your business.


16- Be down to business.


Do not wait for people to first start a conversation. Try to ask a question nicely as a starter. You can go as simple as “Have you heard about this product?” “Do you find this event interesting?”  Expect that some people will ignore you. But, do not let that hinder you from finding your prospective customers. After all, this show is also about building connections to your audience.


17- Create an eye-catching display.


Be artistic and creative as possible. Create a theme that is related to your company, such as the shapes and designs of your business logo, the color scheme of your products, and many more. According to studies, the normal human attention duration is only for eight seconds, and that does not even count the other disruptions and distractions in the event you need to compete against. Making an eye-catching display will attract possible clients to visit the booth. It is best to choose pictures over texts for the human brain processes images quicker than words. Build a display that can still be noticeable even from afar.


18- Take business cards and brochures with you.


It is a must to distribute your business cards to every person you meet in your booth. It is an invitation for future discussion outside the event and can serve as a concrete memento of your brand. Without it, some people may not take you seriously, thinking that you are not prepared. Bring some backup inventory and store digital copies available on the cloud for easy access. 


19- Write down notes


Trade shows usually have system scanners that will let you capture notes on each person you meet. Since we are now in the modern era, it is also an option to use cell phone apps that allow you to scan business cards and add reminders. You can also consider writing down the information of your prospective clients such as the names, contact numbers, and addresses to do a follow up after the event.


20- Do a follow-up.


This is also one of the most crucial parts of participating in a trade show that is often being taken for granted. Business owners tend to forget that the main goal is to build a connection and relationship between potential customers in the long run. Now, after the event, take some time to contact all the people you met and do a follow-up. Thank them through email and provide further information about your product. You must do it only a few days after the trade show for them to still remember you.


21- Start planning for the next event.


It is never early to start planning. You should always be eager and motivated to advertise your company, successful businesses never stop looking for trade shows.




Planning and preparing for a trade show is not easy and requires a lot of effort. It is also difficult to stand out from other competitors and catch the attention of the crowd. Regardless, it is an outstanding marketing strategy that can offer great benefits for starting innovative business channels. It helps you promote your products and services, giving you more chances to meet potential customers. You can also get along with other business owners and have an opportunity to exchange new ideas.

It will never guarantee you success, especially if you did not plan ahead of time. Just learn from those mistakes, do your best, have fun, and always be ready for the next trade show!