13 Tips On How To Get The Most Out Of Trade Shows And Conventions

The time has come. Here is your chance to show the world all about your business and what you have to offer! It may be overwhelming, but this amazing opportunity can pass you by if you’re not careful and attentive. So how can you be properly prepared to take full advantage of such an event?

Well, based on our previous experience at the NGA show 2021, we’ll show you how if applied correctly, a few simple tips can make a huge impact in the long run.

What Is A Trade Show?

There are three types of trade shows, industry trade shows, consumer trade shows, and trade shows that cater to both industries and consumers. An expo is also just another fancy word for a trade show.

A trade show is held to bring together fellow members of a specific industry to display, demonstrate, and discuss their latest products and services. This event takes place in a fun location that allows you to educate prospective clients, establish connections about your product and promote your brand.

We recently attended a trade show for the National Grocer’s Association(NGA) for 2021 as a broker for a few of the excellent Colombian products that we represent. It would not have been as meaningful if we did not apply these pivotal words of advice that guided our success with both consumers and other businesses. Don’t worry. We’re going to coach you on how to have the same success we did!

What Are The Benefits Of A Trade Show?

You will reap many benefits from even just a single trade show like:

  • You are face-to-face with your potential customer
  • Have a driven audience
  • Investigate your competitors
  • Make valuable business relationships
  • Widen out
  • On-the-spot feedback
  • Connect with current patrons
  • Promote your brand identity
  • Drive sales

Pre-Show Planning


1. Set clear goals for your trade show participation

For most companies like ours, our objective for attending a trade show was to acquire business connections that will benefit the business in the future, and most importantly, leads that can be cultivated later after the trade show.

2. Prepare Your Staff

To achieve this desired purpose, plan ahead by making sure all of your team members are experts on your product and business so they can handle any expected questions that arise.

Figure out your key objectives and critical questions that may arise beforehand and write them down. Then, you can use google docs or spreadsheets or whatever works for you and share it with all team members to get everyone in agreement.

3. Budget and book your space

Remember, you will need to book a space for a trade show booth in advance on the exhibit hall floor to showcase your promotional items/services. At these conventions and trade shows, prices for booths can range from $6,000 to $20,000+ depending on what kind of exhibit booth you pick, and that doesn’t even include the cost of your total budget for the show.

We will be totally honest here, going to an expo is EXPENSIVE! But it can be well worth the investment.

The average total budget for a $14,000 booth could be $40,000 and $60,000 for a $20,000 booth. Don’t worry, in-show expenses like marketing, equipment, supplies, shipping, and registration fees that you should consider are all tax-deductible.

We were quoted at over $5,000 just to ship our products from Colombia to Las Vegas for the NGA show.

There are four different types of trade show display booths you can book as your space for the event. The different types are :

  • Inline booth-These are the most common booths you will find on the trade show floor. These kinds of booths are usually arranged straight in line with other inline booths and corner booths. Just the front of your booth will be exposed to the aisle.
  • Corner booth-This type of booth is positioned at the end of an aisle. It provides access to attendees from two sides, the horizontal aisle, and the vertical aisle. You can expect more foot traffic from busy folks passing by and members of many different trade groups.
  • Peninsula booth-Situated at the end of an aisle and is accessible from three sides of the booth with its back against the wall of another booth.
  • Island booth– This booth is open on all four sides and attracts the most attention out of all the booth types. This also makes it the most expensive type of booth and usually requires a more expensive design. Spending an extra few bucks on a premium booth can go a long way for your business if you’re able to and if it’s the right event for you.

4. Find out who will be attending

Get the word out there a few days before that you will be taking part in your specific trade show event by posting it on social media, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and others. If you’re not social media savvy then you can send some emails or a LinkedIn message to any connections you’ve made in the past or any contacts that you feel would be interested in what you have to offer.

Touch bases with industry experts in your mutual contacts list on LinkedIn beforehand and schedule meetings with them. If you write concise messages to gain their attention, you may gain exposure to some valuable introductions and even startup discounts.

Post on your business’s social media page in the days leading up to the event giving specific details about all the key information your clients and other attendants would want to know about your attendance at the event. For example, they might want to know any special promotions you may have for attendees or all the information they’ll need to find you.

Very important: Make sure to announce where in the expo center you can be found!

We decided to set up a regular content posting schedule on our Instagram (@colombiasbest_com) in the days leading up to the event:

5. Bring Your “A team”

The staff you choose to work the event will make or break you in the end. You can choose to either bring your in-house team or hire an event staffing agency that has previous experience with industry events like these. 

Whichever you decide, just remember that these people will be the face of your business, so make sure they are friendly, reputable and can have laser focus to execute your goals for the event.

6. Bring business cards and brochures

While you’re working your trade show booth, you will come into contact with all sorts of people and you will definitely want to leave a lasting impression on them and, most importantly, a way to contact you after the trade show. 

Business cards and brochures are a great way to do this because it’s a great follow-up note that gives clients a little visible reminder of what your company is all about.

You absolutely do not want to run out of business cards while you’re at the show because everyone will be exchanging them constantly while there, so always have a business card handy just in case. 

To make sure our clients were informed, we decided to make our brochures (tri-folds to be specific) with a brief description of all the different brands of products we promote.

At The Trade Show


7. Include Seats Or Lounge Space at Your Booth

To an exhausted participant at a trade show, a comfy chair they can rest their legs at is like the holy grail. So consider adding a seating area in addition to your trade show display. Doing this will bring more foot traffic to your booth, encourage people to stay at your booth longer, and provide a great space to have those important conversations with your potential clients.

8. Give away stuff for free

Who doesn’t love free stuff? Don’t be afraid to hand out complimentary items while at networking events and other events at the conference. We ordered a couple of hundred pens for a few of the brands we represent, clips, notepads, and bags to share with the brand and our website.

We used a site called 4imprint.com to order our promotional items for the show and they came out great!

9. Be Ready to give product demos

It’s vital that you let your audience experience your product before they pay real dollars for it so that they can personally understand its benefits and features. Try using a covid-19 friendly demo in your sales pitch that appeals to one of their five senses, taste, touch, smell, hearing, and sight. 

We estimated about 100 items we could give away from each brand we would be representing, but other businesses we spoke with had up to 3,500 items and were able to give all of them away before the end of the show.

10. Assemble A Memorable Display

The average attention span of a person is only 8 seconds, so it’s important to have an eye-catching trade show display. Incorporate catchy banner ads, brochures, business cards, demos, and images into your trade show display to catch the attention of those passing by.

After The Show


11. Engage In Social Media

Social media allows you an awesome platform to connect with other attendees that also attended the same trade show that you did. Twitter is especially a great way as they usually have official event hashtags and all the other attendee’s tweets about the event to keep others from afar involved.

Advertise your attendance at the event by posting using the official hashtags of the event. This is a way to gain great free publicity too.

We decided to use Instagram because all our brands are very photogenic, so we did Instagram stories and posts and had our social media teamwork over time (literally) to be as active as possible before, during, and after the event.

12. Take Lead Notes

If you follow all of these tips, you will collect dozens of business cards with leads that will benefit your business in the future. So stay organized and have a system for categorizing all the key information about the leads you acquire like, their name, title, email, status, or any other interesting facts that help you remember them in the time to come.

13. Follow Up ASAP

Following up right after is the most important part of attending trade shows and it allows you to nurture the leads you gained in the long run. Even if you don’t hear back from most contacts right away, this will still make your business stand out and who knows, you may just get invited to networking events by them in the future. On our way home, we’ll send out a newsletter to each lead we gained at the show to keep in touch and grow our professional relationship with them.

We don’t just want to leave the socializing for the formal events only, have fun and be open to interacting with all of the wonderful people you meet. This will open all kinds of new doors for our business and your business as well. You’d be surprised at how many associations and trade groups from different industries you will form relationships with just by being open to new opportunities and experiences.

We will also continue to post about our experience on Instagram, Linked In, and other forms of media after the show and we can’t wait to hear back from all the wonderful connections that we’ve made. But now that the show is over, take a moment to have a much-needed day off because you must be worn out, I know we were (actually, we took a week off because it was intense!)


The precious leads you generate at a trade show are just the beginning of a long beneficial relationship between you and your clients. Industry events like these can be quite hectic, and many companies miss out because they don’t know how to conduct themselves before, during, and after the trade show, but thankfully we didn’t and now you won’t either.