Trade shows and fairs offer businesses an unmatched opportunity to connect with other businesses and uncover new leads. With thousands of shows and conferences held around the world each year, there are plenty of events for your business to get involved in, regardless of sector. Platforming at these shows enables you to showcase your brand on a global scale and network with important industry figures.

Unfortunately, attending these shows can be a costly endeavour, particularly if you are acting as an exhibitor or sponsor. It’s therefore essential that you can justify the cost and prove a return on investment (ROI) afterwards. Research trade shows months in advance to the one you choose is best suited to your business objectives. Keep in mind that participating in shows your competitors are missing out on can be a great method of picking up on leads you might have otherwise missed.

Once you’ve found the optimal trade show, collate information on sponsorships, exhibitors and speakers. You can use this information to map out your engagement and marketing strategy with your sales and marketing teams. Establishing which key contacts you will approach can prepare you to connect with them beforehand, allowing you to arrange meetings and itineraries.

Your sales strategy onsite should revolve around two things: networking and branding. Knowing how to pitch and what to say is just as important as getting in front of the right people. It is then paramount that you convincingly convey your brand and the unique selling point of your business.

Getting your booth and marketing materials right will secure success in generating leads and proving return on investment. Achieving this requires an in-depth understanding of your customer base – this will govern which approach is suitable. Consider whether any of your current customers would be willing to attend as brand advocates. If not, they might still be willing to provide quotes or a case study for your marketing collateral which can be hugely valuable as they signal your brand’s trustworthiness to trade show attendees, giving you an edge over other businesses.

Organisation is paramount in maximising the opportunities offered – diarise your meetings but leave time for spontaneous appointments and social networking. After each meeting, make a brief note of any important details that were discussed. These can then be collated into a spreadsheet to help you to keep track of who you’ve met and who you’ve followed up on. If you have the time, sending emails while still at the trade show can be a great way of making an impression.

Remember to take a creative approach to trade shows – try to communicate your brand visually through your booth and take care to appear inviting and calm. A chaotic booth cramped with banners and people can be off-putting, whereas a clever use of minimal banners and space will intrigue passers-by.

Ultimately, there will always be a degree of managing the unknown and unexpected at trade shows and fairs because of the nature of events. Being able to effectively manage situations and take advantage of all opportunities to network will help your business hugely. Trade shows are as good as your sales and marketing team so having the right people behind you will take you a long way.

If you’d like more advice about attending overseas trade shows, our expert International Trade Advisers (ITAs) are on-hand to offer their support.

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