How to Prepare for Your First Trade Show

Participating in trade shows can benefit your business in a number of ways. However, in order to get the most value out of them, you need to be properly prepared.

There are a number of steps you need to keep in mind before jumping right into your first trade show. How much you want to spend, which shows to attend and how you want your booth to look are among some of the major steps you need to focus on in your planning stages.

Here is a list of the major checkpoints you need to keep in mind before going in full throttle into your first trade show: 

Setting a budget

The budget is the most crucial aspect of any marketing activity. It defines how you come across to your target audience Do you want to be seen as a stingy company, or one that doesn’t mind spending some extra money for a quality display?

Keep in mind that buying all of your displays isn’t a must. One way to save some money is to rent your exhibit booths, which are easily portable and easy to install. This allows you some extra room to play around with your budget. A lot of participants make the mistake of not setting up a specific budget. This often results in added expense and numerous cost overruns. 

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Choosing a location

The location of the trade show plays a vital role in attracting the right target audience. Many major trade shows have a fixed venue and do shows at the same venue repeatedly. While these shows might draw the largest audiences, they are often the most expensive to participate in.

You should start researching shows well in advance, so if you do want to participate in one of the well-known shows you can take advantage of any early bird discounts. This will make sure that you don’t end up overspending at the last moment. Also, some locations are bound to close quickly so you need to seal the deal quite early.

Preparing your team

The sales and the marketing team members you send to the show are vital to your end goals, as they are the ones who are going to drive the conversation between your brand and potential customers. You should consider some added training sessions so they can brush up their skills before the actual event.

The training might range from learning how to address the questions of visitors, to managing the booth display setup during the event. They should also be ready with backup plans in case of an emergency type situation and they can’t proceed as planned.  

Developing marketing materials

You will have to create all your marketing related collateral well in advance. You must ensure that all those who visit your booth walk away with a flyer or a brochure. This will help ensure that your brand’s name is easily recalled at a later date. You might also consider building an event-specific landing page on your website to spread the word about your upcoming participation. 

Capturing new leads

The whole objective of going to a trade show is to land more business. You have to make sure you have a solid lead generation strategy in place. Your strategy should include creating a landing page on your website, printing new business cards and having some branded swag freebies you can hand out during the event.

You also should have dedicated team members who can handle all queries and categorize them as hot, warm and cold leads. This will help make sure you have them properly prioritized for follow-ups when the show is over.  

Setting your goals

Be ready with a clear picture of what business goals you want to achieve from the trade show. Your goals may be to get new leads in order to generate more business. Or your goals may be to not only land more business but also create a better brand impression.

Since you won’t close all of your deals during the show, don’t forget to keep revisiting your return on investment figures if you are able to close new business in the days and weeks following the event. 

Creating your booth design and displays

Your presence in the trade show has to be impressive enough to pique the interest of those walking by. The best booths feature things like pop-up displays, tension fabric displays, custom printed table throws and LED backlit displays. Using these types of display can easily create a lot of curiosity among those attending show. The more people you can get to check out the display, the easier time your sales team is going to have in converting that curiosity into some who is ready to buy.

Remember that the booth design is what essentially will represent your brand during the length of the trade. With that in mind, you need to put a lot of thought into choosing the material and conceptualizing the whole design. 


As you participate in additional trade shows, you will gain more experience and might end up creating your own unique list. Every trade show will be a new learning curve for you, which is good for your business. Also, don’t be afraid to get in touch with trade show experts who have assimilated years of expertise and can guide you on how to tackle the complexities as a first-time participant. Most of them will be more than happy to give you trade show related consultation for free.

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