7 Trade Show Tips for Startups


Exhibiting your startup company at a trade show is a great opportunity you should grab whenever you get the chance. Not only does it put your business on the map, but also helps you get your name out there, show the world what you are capable of, and offers you the chance to meet in person with potential customers.

You might even get lucky enough to meet with investors who will be willing to help you thrive, who knows? But in a sea of well-established companies, startups, media, people, visitors, and investors, if you don’t press the right buttons it might get pretty hard to even get noticed at all!

That is why you need to be fully prepared and know in advance what to expect from every trade show you participate in. Here are 7 great tips that will guide and help you get the most out of every trade show you’ll attend from now on:

1.Always be prepared and plan ahead

It’s very crucial to plan in advance and have at least 3-4 months ahead to prepare for the event. Gather your whole team as early as possible to discuss, define your goals, make a list of things you need to be ready for the exhibition (designs, banners, business cards, products you need to showcase, etc.) and assign all the tasks accordingly.  Keep track of the progress of every task so that you don’t leave anything to the last minute. If you are also going to showcase at the trade show, make sure to practice as much as possible and have all the materials ready and revised.

No matter how long ahead you start preparing, or how well you do your homework — it is always advisable to go at the trade show as early as you can (1 or 2 days if possible) to get a real feeling of the place, floor location, other booths, and so on.

2. Do your homework

Planning ahead can get you only so far. That is why you need to do your homework, know what to expect from the event, and at the same time define your goals and what you want to get out of it. Remember, it is a trade show and your main goal should be to promote your startup and sell as many of your products and services as possible.

Most trade shows will have a pre-registered list of attendees and exhibitioners and you should definitely take advantage of this whenever possible. Extract those lists and start sending emails, direct messages on LinkedIn, and even contact/mention them on Twitter.

Sending newsletters to introduce yourself and your company, as well as let them know you will be there, is always a good idea. Just try to make the messages and newsletters as clear and personal as you can. Also, don’t forget to include your booth number.

3. Start generating traffic to your booth even before the event

How great is it to have people book for appointments with your team and reserve time slots in advance? Give your audience this opportunity and start generating traffic to your booth weeks prior to the event.

The team members you select to present you at the event is also very important – do not underestimate this crucial factor. Your chosen team members will be the first contact your visitors will have with your company! In order to display the best image of your business, your team must know the product and services you offer as thoroughly as can be, and also present them well in order to create as many leads as possible.

4. Try picking the best floor location

You won’t always be able to pick the booth location by yourself, depending on various events’ policies, but if you will be given the opportunity to choose, make sure you pick the most desirable spots.

Picking the best floor and the best booth location will give you a head start. As you may already know, there are certain floor positions that draw more attention compared to others and they can give you an advantage, even before the event even starts.  

5. Catch attendees’ eyes and offer free items

Designing special eye-catching materials that show your company in the best light will guarantee traffic at your booth at all times. But, cool designs are not enough if they are not accompanied by awesome giveaway items, such as promotional tote bags, stickers, posters, flyers, and any other promotional items. People love free stuff - even if they don’t get very interested to stop by your booth at first, they will be encouraged to visit, and eventually get to know your company better.

Be attentive to the promotional stuff you’re giving for free. Instead of using it as just a way to draw people to your booth, use it as an opportunity to offer high value. Think long-term: are the items interesting and useful enough? Will they make people talk about you even after the event is over?

Of course, the main goal at first is to draw them to your booth, start a conversation and show them your magic. But, you should also think of ways to show your creativity in every detail, on every item you give, so that your potential customers would happily showcase these items to the people they know and create more potential leads for you in the long run.

6. Network, Network, Network

Networking is vital for every startup to thrive. But, if you don’t put enough energy into it, you won’t see any results soon. Once you’ve drawn people to your booth and increased their curiosity, it’s time to engage with them and showcase your products or services in the simplest possible way. You don’t want to confuse your potential leads, so try to answer any of their questions thoroughly and attentively. Show them they have all your attention, make it as interesting as possible, but don’t reveal everything you’ve got either. Leave them wanting more and get curious about what else you are offering.

Always have your business cards and flyers ready to give out, so that they can find out more about you at their own right time. Having your unique QR code included in the flyers will make it even easier for everyone visiting your booth to simply scan the code and find you right away.

7. Follow up after the event is over

One thing you must not forget is to gather the emails of everyone that visited your booth and follow up with them right after the trade show so that they won’t forget about you. This way you will be able to differentiate the ones you met in person and target them even better in the near future.

Most companies forget about the fact that the majority of people don’t prefer to buy during the show - which makes it even more crucial to follow up with them. It will show that you care and will remind them to buy the cool products or services your startup offers.

Tech Disrupt, CES, LA Tech Day, and Global Ventures Summit (GVS) are just some of the trade shows our HELLO Solaborate Team has attended to showcase HELLO 2 and other HELLO 2 products.

Find more here.

Turning leads into real sales, building personal connections to better establish your brand, and getting people talking about you and what you offer is the way to go. As mentioned in the beginning, exhibiting your startup at any trade show is an awesome opportunity and it’s up to you to get the most out of it!  

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