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What are Trade Shows?

By Serena Norr
Updated Feb 21, 2024
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A trade show is an organized meeting, generally held over the course of a few days, where members of a certain industry can exhibit their product or service. Trade shows allow exhibitors to reach a large number of customers in a short period of time, where they can sell their brand face-to-face, leading to sales, established relationships, and industry contacts.

Trade shows are usually held in convention centers that can house numerous exhibitors. They generally occur once a year that not only encompasses exhibiting on the trade show floor, but attending industry related workshops, conferences, and meetings. Many members of a particular industry attend trade shows to re-connect with members of the industry, meet competitors, establish business contacts, and make potential sales.

A successful trade show is all about planning and can determine leads and potential sales. Because trade shows generally occur only once a year, many companies develop an intricate marketing plan and a mission statement outlining the intent and projected results for exhibiting. This will organize a projected budget on pre-show promotions, on site activities, and post-show follow up. This mission should also address financial needs that will include costs for floor space, trade show displays, and travel expenses.

Success at a trade show is also dependent on the staff that is chosen to represent the company. A select group of staff members should be taken to a show, especially those who know the company well, can be on their feet all day, and will speak enthusiastically about the company and products.

Another component of trade shows is the visual presentation and pre-promotional marketing. Exhibitors should work with a design team to create booth signage, interactive promotions and demonstrations. Marketing materials should inform prospects about the products and services of a company. Examples include: sales literature, product sheets, business cards, promotional items, and follow-up information packets.

During a show, maintaining a sense of calmness is crucial, since at times anything can go wrong. Make sure the booth and graphics are set up and marketing materials are ready for distribution. Additionally, exhibitors may be invited to numerous parties, and events, as well as meetings and potential sales calls. Attending workshops is also advisable since exhibitors can learn and extend their information about a particular topic from a respected leader in the industry. Follow-up within 48 hours is crucial. With all the hard work that goes into a show, exhibitors don’t want to be forgotten due to a lapse of time. Exhibitors should also have a post-show and budget meeting.

Trade shows are a unique way for exhibitors to present their goods and services to a targeted audience. The key to success at a trade show is strategic preparation that can lead to contacts and potential sales.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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