Planning to attend your first trade show? Here are a few helpful preparation tips

trade show
trade show


Planning to attend your first trade show? Here are a few helpful preparation tips

In agricultural industries, trade shows are a popular marketing activity for businesses to interact with each other, educate the public and do market research on their competitors. It’s where potential buyers will come together and look at animals, technology and equipment, all within one location.

For new and existing companies, attending a trade show is the perfect opportunity for businesses to get involved and increase their profile in the industry. As a highly effective marketing tool, businesses can use trade shows to promote existing products to the media or launch something completely new. While it does take intensive planning and research, companies that take part in these events should approach them as a learning experience for future opportunities.

If you’re looking to take part in your first trade show, here are a few helpful tips to consider:  


  • Choose the show you want to attend

Throughout the year, there are various farming trade shows to attend. But, the challenge is finding the right one to complement your business strategy. It’s all about your objectives and goals, and each trade show is designed to focus on various areas in the agricultural industry. For example, if you want to introduce a new technology product into the farming industry, NAMPO, which is one of the largest agricultural exhibitions in South Africa, would be the relevant place to do so. Do your research and make careful assessments about these events to ensure your product achieves maximum exposure.


  • Identify your objectives and goals

Usually, these events charge exhibitor fees, and along with your own resource and planning, attending a trade show can become a costly venture. Within saying that, make sure your business goals are clearly aligned with the trade event you wish to attend. The better you can identify the value your product will add to the industry, the more energy and effort you will be able to put into your booth. Here are some questions that can help you analyse your objectives and goals when planning for a trade show:

  1. Is my business concept ready to enter the market at a media event?
  2. Why do I want to participate in a trade show?
  3. Will my product or service reach the right target market and audience at the show?
  4. How will this trade show affect my business growth?
  5. Do I have the necessary resources to commit to this event?


  • Get in touch with event organisers

Once you have decided on the show that you wish to attend, try to secure your spot well in advance. When you are sure of your attendance, you will be able to put your head down and plan with ease. It will also give you confidence knowing that your experience won’t be last minute or rushed. Another tip is, sometimes it is better to attend a few on your own before applying to exhibit as a company.


  • Find the ‘why’ before you start planning

As beautifully designed as these shows can be, setting goals will help you determine the ‘why’ behind your decision. Do not spend your time and money planning a stand or display that draws attention without a goal. Do some research on the type of stands and marketing tactics that previous, similar companies have done, and spend your time training your staff on the entire lead generation process: how to attract customers, what to say, how to market your business and how to follow up on warm leads. When you have a better understanding of your reasoning, the ‘how’ will fall into place. After all, it’s not only about attracting consumers, because they are not the ones who are going to be investing in your products.

Another key factor is to extend your planning strategy beyond the show. These shows may only take a few days out of your working week, but the marketing and follow-up service needs to go beyond that. Integrate your event into your overall business strategy for the year, to ensure that the money you’ve spent delivers measurable results for you and your business.


  • Invite current and potential clients to the show  

A great move would be to get your current clients involved in advertising your presence via social media to encourage their networking pool to attend the event. This will also boost digital traction, and help you attract new people. Word of mouth goes a long way, and trade shows are yet another opportunity to meet new people and spark new conversations. Use this as a tool to set up meetings with desired clients.


Your booth display should be one of the last things you plan unless it requires you to hire items in advance. Try to make your display as professional and as visually appealing as possible, while keeping it simple. Use colours that reflect your brand but also make a statement. Agricultural shows may not always appeal to people, but the brighter and more innovative your stand is, the more feet you’ll get to your store.


  • Train your staff for the big event

The employees you choose to execute your plan will impact your success. When you have staff that are friendly, trained and knowledgeable about your product or service, you will easily attract attendees and hopefully, other trade companies which might be interested in forming a partnership with you. Remember that these employees are the brand ambassadors for your business, throughout the duration of your show, so do some training to ensure that they have a positive reflection on your business.


Final words

As you can see, planning and preparing for a trade show is a lengthy process. If done right, you will be able to achieve massive results from all the effort that you’ve put in. Take advantage of this opportunity to meet new people and showcase your new business concept. Make sure you have the correct licence to attend your show, to avoid any hiccups upon arrival. And, read the rules and regulations. Once you’ve planned accordingly and everything’s on track, you’ll be in for a smooth, successful show.