Tricks of the trade show

Trade shows can be a daunting prospect for any business, and much like McDonald’s chips — if done incorrectly — it can often leave a bad taste in your mouth. With concerns about ROI and exhibition space now costing more than my sister’s Christmas list, many smaller companies are choosing to neglect the convention of conventions.

And yet, 71 per cent of SME’s do the majority of their new business connections at networking events, meaning those who fail to participate could be missing a huge trick of the trade — literally.

Fresh from appearing at Advanced Engineering, Technical PR agency Stone Junction’s marketing executive, Tasha Bodger, gives her top tips on how to get the most out of your next exhibition.  

Plan far, far, far … far ahead
If you don’t want the exhibition booth closest to the WC, you’re going to need to plan quite far in advance. Often, trade shows are annual and begin renting exhibition spots about a year beforehand — it may seem excessive, but the more prep time the better.

Once you’ve booked your slot, a whole array of trade show planning paraphernalia opens up to you — lucky you! You can begin to think about stand design specific to your dimensions, corresponding promotional material and how many of your colleagues need to realistically attend. Not to mention, the quicker you’re off the mark, the better chance you have of getting a position closer to a big-name brand with high levels of traffic.

You need to social network
Staying socially active throughout the event is crucial. By using the official event hashtag across multiple networks, you’ll likely receive engagement by the organisers themselves or interested businesses. Check the exhibitor list too and begin to interact with companies who you may want to work with. Slide into their DM’s, give them a cheeky ‘like’ and hopefully they’ll return the favour. Ultimately, it’s all about building an online relationship with potential business partners so broaching a real-life conversation doesn’t seem so difficult.

Be a MERCHant
Free things sell — it’s ironic but true. The average human attention span is only a measly eight seconds, so having brand-appropriate giveaways is a great way to hold someone’s interest — and start a conversation. We all know the best bit of a trade show is the grownup party bag full of swag you get to take home — pens, stress balls, the odd packet of Haribo.  Handing out merch, food and/or business cards extends the opportunity for retrospective marketing. 71.6 per cent of attendees who receive a promotional product remember the name of the company associated with it — and that’s the whole point of a trade show after all.  

Follow the LEADer
Leads are the piéce de résistance of any trade show, but they’re completely useless without the appropriate follow-up.  The easiest and most personable approach to follow up’s is by making notes on any business cards you receive, briefly outlining the conversation and any future actions. Once you’re back — and basking in the post trade show glow — you can assign each follow-up to whoever spoke with the potential client, safe in the knowledge you won’t have forgotten who they are or what they do or need.

Want to exhibit at your first trade show but don’t know how? Contact the experts! Call us today on +44 (0)1785 224 516 or

Tasha Bodger

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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