So you’ve decided to participate in a trade show – good for you! It’s one of the best ways to promote your business and perhaps increase your sales. But it can become a waste of your time and financial resources, and you certainly don’t want it to end that way. But the success of your trade show participation will depend heavily on how you prepare for it. You want to maximise your time and effort, and one way to be sure of this is to prepare in advance. The following is your step-by-step guide to what to do before you participate in a trade show.

  • Set your goals

Ask yourself why you are joining the trade show in the first place. What do you want to achieve by joining that trade show? Do you want to sell inventory? Do you want exposure to suppliers? Do you want to promote your company or are wishing to launch one of your new products or services? Of course, you can have a number of goals, but the main point is to establish these goals and be clear about your reasons for participating in the trade show.

  • Do some research

While you can take your pick from a plethora of trade shows happening at any given time, you want to choose the right trade show for your business. Do some research on trade shows which will provide your business with the best ROI in relation to your goals. For example, if your goal is to enhance sales, is having a big booth at a big trade show with dozens upon dozens of competitors selling almost the same products a good choice? You might want to select a trade show which allows you to target the specific audience you want and which suits your goals of participation. Find out the objectives of the trade show and assess the audience before you sign up.

  • Set your budget and make a reservation

When you have found the proper trade show, it’s time to set your budget and make a reservation. Once you do this, it also pays to find out everything you can about the space you have – where it is on the trade show floor, whether it’s a low or high traffic area, what other displays will surround it, and the conditions of your space, such as electrical outlets, lighting, and so on. Remember to reserve as early as you can, because most trade show organisers will offer great ‘early bird’ discounts.

  • Plan your display

It’s now time to plan your display. Who are you targeting? Are you targeting retail clients, wholesale clients, or other companies in your sector? Different trade show audiences have different requirements, so remember this. But remember also that your display needs to stand out with the right materials, such as banners and posters (and their corresponding stands), presentation materials and giveaways such as brochures, flyers, and leaflets placed in the proper A4 conference folder complete with your company’s name, logo, and information, samples of your products, giveaways, and so on. Once you have finalised what you will have in your display, you can start planning who to bring with you and arrange your accommodations and other logistical details.