Top 10 Trade Show Tips for Before, During, and After the Show

Since Devon International Group consists of several companies, we have been to our fair share of trade shows within a diverse array of industries.  Every company is fully submerged in Trade Show Season, so we thought we’d share some our top tricks of the trade show.

Before the show…

Learn what the event’s hashtag will be on Twitter, and connect with people that way.  You’ll quickly learn who else is attending, so make plans to meet at the show.  Participate in online discussions leading up to the show and determine what methods people will use to connect.  Try Banjo ( – a new app that alerts you when your friends and colleagues are nearby.

Get branded products that people actually WANT.  This is key. I received a branded coozie a year ago and still use it.  Talk about staying power.  So steer clear of the cheap key chains or pins.  If you don’t want it, chances are, nobody else will either.

Be prepared.  Send two of the things you can’t go without.  While shipping companies may say that they will handle everything delicately, we’ve shown up to a trade show with broken monitors and other integral pieces.  It’s always best to send something home that you didn’t need rather than go an entire show without it.  Also ship things you might not think you’ll need, but you will: scissors, packing tape, band-aids, and aspirin!

At the show…

This one is important for both men and women.  Yes, ladies, you want to look good and professional, but I’d recommend wearing flats.  It is so important to stand and engage with show-goers and not sit down because your new shoes hurt in more places than one.

See now why the shoes are so important?  You want to meet everyone, yes everyone, including other exhibitors and your competition.  Often times you’ll make a connection simply by commiserating about the show hours.   Maybe you’ll find a way for your companies to work together and start a business relationship with other vendors.

For larger shows, you may send a large portion of your sales team, but they only need to be present during high traffic times.  Walking up to a booth with 8 hungry-eyed and bored workers is a bit overwhelming.  Staff your booth with necessary people, but try not to have too many people standing around.

People get sick of being pitched to all day.  So don’t.  Start a conversation instead.  Obviously the questions should be geared toward your industry, but by asking questions and listening, you might just learn a new angle about your business that will ultimately help you sell.

Set up a demo of your product.  Would you rather listen to a tech geek ramble on about his product or simply have him show you?  That’s an easy answer.  A visual display will stick and likely prove your point better than the speech you had prepared. Make sure more than one person knows the demo, too.  Don’t make visitors wait while the one person who knows the demo finishes up with another customer.

Who doesn’t love a free happy hour?  Even if the trade show is hosting after hours events, try to create a nighttime event that is hosted by your company.  Work with the restaurant or bar to get your branding in the space, and make personalized invitations for your guests.  This way you can talk about the business in a more relaxed setting and get valuable one-on-one time with your customers.

After the show…

Write targeted blogs about what people asked you at the show.  Connect with the people you met and keep your relationships strong.  Have a stack of business cards?  Go on LinkedIn after the show everyday and find those new contacts.  Missed someone?  Make sure you apologize and try to connect at the next show.

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