How to Participate in a Trade Show

Trade shows are part and parcel of a company's expansion as well as a potentially good source of capturing more market share. Here are the four P's to preparing for a trade show, whether you are budding entrepreneur or an executive put in charge of organising your company's participation in trade show.

1. Pick the right one

For each industry, there are several trade shows to choose from, be it between B2B or B2C, local or overseas, going for annual trade shows or biannual ones and many others. To decide, consider the below few factors:
- Time: Will it clash with your company's busiest time of year?
- Budget: Some trade shows are extremely expensive. You will need to consider if it is worth the return on investment (ROI) before participating in one.
- Feedback: What is the feedback for this trade show if it is a recurring one? Talk to past participants for some objective feedback.
- Target audience: Do the visitors for the trade show overlap with your target audience? Consider both quality and quantity of traffic.

2. Plan in advance

Some trade shows are so popular that they are booked up to a year in advance, and some times are worth waiting for. Besides, planning requires much time and effort so do plan in advance.

First, decide on your purpose for participation. Is it to introduce your product to a new market? Or is it to expand into an overseas market? Be clear of your purpose and translate that well in planning a checklist of things to prepare before the event itself as well as a timeline for checking them off. Put yourself in the shoes of a passing visitor and have everything he or she may need in place as well as how ro attract them over to your booth. An incomplete list should include:
- Ample relevant marketing collaterals and namecards
- Booth design and materials
- Special product development or discounts for the trade show
- Advertising and email blasts to existing and potential clients
- Technical issues such as having ample power points and Internet speeds
- Logistics planning includes having products produced in time for the show and transporting equipment and furniture to the venue

3. Prepare and run through

No matter how small the company may be, have a team in charge of this. Run through a possible day at the trade show, hour by hour, right from travelling to the trade show. Who will do what and bring what? When can someone get a lunch break? Is there anybody to take over or substitute in case of emergencies? What if there is a power failure – what is the backup plan? These are the few questions that will be raised on the day itself, and which you should be prepared for.

4. Post-event follow up

Follow up with contacts you made during the trade show as soon as possible, before they forget your warm reception and to capture those sitting on the fence!

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