Deep In Thought

Published: 25 Jul 2018

Top Tips for Participating in a Trade Show

The enterprises supported by ‘a creative momentum project’ under the ‘Model for Accessing International Trade Events’ give their tips and advice for other creatives planning to participate in an international Trade event.

Before the Show

  • Engage with Trade Fair organisers as early as possible in order to try to secure a good position at the Show.
  • As exhibiting at some Shows is ‘invite only’, it is important to ensure that your work is ‘out there’ to be discovered by curators.
  • Find your market. Find the right Show to fit your product/service.
  • Accommodation can be a challenge and very expensive, especially if it is a very large event and/or high season. It is important to book accommodation as early as possible, and to consider alternative options.
  • It is critical to consider and plan very carefully in advance how to display your products and which products to display. Show your best sellers and edit what you display. Bring to the Show what is suited to that particular Show.  This may involve considering a new range of products.  It is also important to bring a range of work in different price ranges.
  • For Trade events for services which do not have ‘stands’, research how other companies make their presence felt e.g. at some events a company will rent a house or hotel suite as a ‘base’ to meet clients.
  • At such events (with no stands), it is important to research speakers, themes and attendance at the event in advance. Some events have specific formats (e.g. an app) to facilitate networking and business connections and it is important to capitalise on these.
  • It is important to clarify insurance cover and organise appropriate cover. Some Fair organisers provide an insurance option, others require exhibitors to take out their own Public Liability insurance.  Investigate options for insurance cover that may be supported by public agencies.
  • Pre-show marketing is key. It is a good idea to send invitations to previous and potential clients inviting them to your stand (if relevant), offering special discounts for orders placed during the Show and perhaps attaching some samples if possible. Reaching out to new and existing buyers you want to meet, arranging meetings etc.
  • When promoting your presence at the Show in advance, through your social media and website, it is critical to include your Stand number as the Shows/Fairs can be very large and it can be difficult to find an individual business without the Stand Number. Remember to update your website with details of the Show.
  • It is important to develop high quality marketing material to bring to the Show. Engage a professional photographer and graphic designer. Visually appealing, professional marketing material that provides information on your work and (if relevant) some insight to your inspiration is important to build brand identity and provide contact details.

During the Show

  • Depending on your product/service, it can be a good idea to give away a little goodie bag with a few samples or some other type of branded promotional gift.
  • New clients may not make a commitment at the Show. They may need more time to go through your details and offers and get back to you later. It is important to follow up very soon after the Show with any potential clients.
  • Networking is very important. Also walking the Show and gathering ideas from the way in which other exhibitors display their Stands. It is an opportunity to see first-hand the variety of work being promoted and sold as well as to pick up some inside knowledge which can be incorporated in your own practice.
  • If you are at an early stage in business, a Trade Show can give you direct access to other, more experienced entrepreneurs/makers who are often happy to share their experience. It can be a good opportunity to gauge how your work compares with others in your field and to get feedback from attendees as well as other exhibitors.
  • Using social media throughout the Show is useful to promote your presence and connect with others at the Show.
  • Having some type of activity or demonstration at your Stand can attract people.
  • If there are talks/seminars during the Trade Show, these can be a good chance to network and meet collaborators/ competitors, also to get an idea of emerging trends in the sector e.g. Virtual Reality.
  • If at all possible get someone to help/ work with you at the Show. Trade Fairs are very intensive events and it is advisable to have at least two people at your Stand. One option is to hire somebody local to that area.
  • Take the opportunity to do some more market research on that city/country while you are there, if possible.

After the Show

  • It is recommended to send a follow up e-mail to every visitor to your Stand (whose contact details you get) on the same day as they visited your Stand. This can simply be a thank you for visiting your Stand, but is a chance to get your contact details to them. A few weeks later, follow up with more detail and information.
  • Important to follow/connect with them on social media immediately during the event and continue the connection (liking, sharing, commenting).
  • Invest in relationships you start to develop at a Show, as they often take time to grow and develop and do not always happen after just one meeting. It may be necessary to travel again to meet in person with potential new clients.

The full report and a summary of ‘Accessing Trade Fairs: Model for Peripheral Creative Enterprises to Access International Trade Events’ can be downloaded from the Knowledge Centre, or download directly

Summary: Accessing Trade Fairs: Model for Peripheral Creative Enterprises to Access International Trade Events’ (PDF, 0.4MB)

Accessing Trade Fairs: Model for Peripheral Creative Enterprises to Access International Trade Events (PDF, 1.8MB)


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