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Trade fairs as a commercial opening (1999) and after…

trade fairs clothes and bags displayed on road near building during daytime
Photo by Alice Pasqual

Trade fairs are one of the commercial channels that, with good planning, can be a source of great benefits and market knowledge.

Exhibitions, as commercial tools that they are, must be defined so that they provide us with the benefits of well-planned and executed goals.

When defining a commercial policy that includes trade fairs, these must have general objectives that are defined by the commercial strategy itself, and specific objectives that are specific to the trade fairs, so that they can be controlled, quantified and qualified directly after the trade fair and the conclusions drawn from it.

Among these objectives must be all those related to the collection of quality contacts, eliminating wasted time.

The quality contact must meet a series of requirements that we have to establish within this objective, such as the type of activity developed, position in the company, capacity to make purchasing decisions, type of information required, degree of interest, type of behavior, etc.

With all these data, after the fair, we can qualify if the contacts collected are interesting and thus initiate the commercial action, re-contacting and exerting the necessary influence directly on the needs of this contact for the execution of the sale and subsequent income.

Of particular importance is also the use of the fair as a meeting point between former professional colleagues, former clients or potential clients already contacted, being able to exert a motivating factor of purchase the fact of meeting with our interlocutors in neutral meeting places.

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Developing effective pre-shows

In order to achieve an attractive and profitable trade show, the pre-fair is fundamental. Because in the pre-fair we will define what is the quality of visitors we want to receive in the stand.

The most important thing is to define what are the objectives we want to achieve at the show. Usually we all know what we want, but the fact of thinking for a while and writing down certain possibilities helps us to clarify ideas and unify criteria. To do this, we need to ask ourselves specific questions to get concrete answers, such as the following

What do we want to achieve at the trade show?

More customers.
Quality customers.
New customers.
To make our company known.
Create a brand image.

Who will make the above answers come true?

To get more customers

> Sales department.

To make our company known.

> Marketing department.


In what time frame will we have all this defined?

If we make a simple timeline, we already have a calendar ready for action.

-____1 month____- ____2 months____ -____ FAIR____-


A good timeline can be from the current date to 10 days before the show.

It is important that the period of obtaining the preferences is with a little margin, because there will be companies that interest us and if we call them 2 days before, they will tell us that it is impossible for them to attend.


Send tickets.
Design the stand.
Preparation of promotional material.
Hire the services of the fair.
Update databases.
Contacting potential visitors.

Trade fairs clothes and bags displayed on road near building during daytime

Sending tickets:

To whom?

To potential clients. If we already know them, we send the ticket to the most suitable person, otherwise we call the company we are interested in to see who is the most suitable person to receive this invitation.

To current clients. It will help them to see an added value on our part and will serve as a motivating factor.

To lost customers. It is always interesting to take some tickets to some customers that have been lost to us, it is convenient to make a visit and in this way to see what were the reasons that made this loss exist. In addition, we can see if there is a possibility of reactivating the commercial cooperation with them.

Preparation of promotional material:

The promotional material of the Preferia starts from the letter that is sent to the client together with the ticket, until the moment when the client delivers the ticket at the reception of the fair.

An interesting option is the Internet. Many fairs have an Internet subscription and an interesting possibility is to create an access from our company’s web pages to the subscription page of the fair, this offers a lot of comfort to our customers.

The invitation letter must be simple and concise. Make the customer see the benefits of coming to the show to see us.

The benefits that we have to make them see are twofold, on the one hand they have a professional basis, so they come to see us, and on the other hand they have a human basis, this means a morning, a day or a week of relaxation watching the fair, a quiet coffee while strolling through the different stands and even an interesting snack at our booth.

The promotional material to be exhibited at the fair.

The promotional material must be of two types, one for the general public and another for the public we are interested in.

The one for the general public will be aimed at making our company known and the one for the public we are interested in can be a catalog of our products and/or services in a well designed folder that our potential client can show while walking around the fair, this will give him a little more status with respect to the rest of the visitors.

The post-exhibition promotional material.

The post-fair promotional material has to be an informative note thanking the client for visiting our stand and showing some ratios or bar graphs about the audience of the fair, as well as some kind of anecdote that was funny at the fair (there are always some).

The Preferia as a tool for updating the database.

The Preferia is a unique opportunity to update databases. We can clean and update our database of potential customers.

When we send a mailing with the entries inviting our potential customers, we can work the mailing as a letter or as a form, the letters have a higher cost and go in a sealed envelope, the form has a lower cost and goes with an open envelope.

In our case to send a mailing we can choose the option that we consider convenient, and always with a return address, which will help us to receive letters that have not had an addressee.

It is important to know the reason for receiving the returned letter, it can be because the company has changed address, has closed or because the person to whom we addressed the letter has left the company.

All the returned letters will be an additional cost for us, since we will not receive any kind of answer, the only thing we will know is that the address or the person is not correct, and we will be interested in knowing solutions that will allow each letter to have an addressee.

One possible solution is to call all the companies to which we will send the entries, in order to use the resources of the mailing.

Logically, this solution depends on the type of company, if it is a large company it will have resources to send tickets to all possible users, besides by letter, by other means as it can be in collaboration with the press or sectorial publications.


The contact with the important customer at the fair.

If we have an important client that we want to invite to the fair, we have to consider all the possibilities within our reach to receive him in our stand.

We can prepare a small aperitif to offer him while he is with us, a place where only he or the important clients will sit, and make sure that the people who will accompany or talk to this client while he is with us are people he knows, such as the sales representatives who will accompany him.

Also, at the show, we can introduce them to all the people who make up our team and make them feel like one of us.

If we see that the client is so interesting as to close an operation in the same fair, we have to consider several options, one of them can be to invite him to eat, informing us that interesting restaurants can be near the fair that serve good food, and with a curious fact, if the fair is in a city that is different from that of the client and very possibly to ours, it is very interesting to take him to eat in a place that has typical gastronomy of the zone, this will serve as neutral place of negotiation.

The contracting of the services of the fair.

Normally all the fairs have a dossier of services that we can apply to our stand.

In general, the services tend to be

Water connections.
Compressed air.
Audiovisual materials.
Hostesses and interpreters.
Catering services.
Electricity supply.
Photography services.
Garden cleaning.
Cargo handling.
Electronic displays.
Brochure holders.
Meeting rooms.
Custom or standard stands.
Telephone service.

All of these services allow us to focus our efforts on the goals we want to achieve at the show.

At the show

hen we go to a trade fair, we naturally think of it as a commercial event that will make us known, that will allow us to attract interesting customers, etc. Nevertheless, we can make a better trade fair than usual if we know how we are going to work every moment of the fair, for this reason it is good to define a series of objectives that can later be summarized in manageable and practical tasks.

The objectives in this case must be simple, although they must be based on the search for results, we must be able to measure the results in some way.

If our goal is to get 3 customers, it is easy to see the result, and if we get more it will be much better, if our goal is to sell x units of product at the fair, it is also easy to control.

However, if our goal is to position a new product in a certain region or increase the brand image in a certain area, things get more complicated.

Therefore, it is important that we can quickly translate the goals we set for a trade show into manageable tasks and prioritize those tasks so that we can accomplish them on a day-to-day basis at the show.

Prioritizing means that if we drop a poster hanging in the booth while we are in the middle of a meeting with an important client, we decide whether to wait until the meeting is over and then pick up the poster, or to interrupt the meeting to put the poster back up.

When we set our goals and priorities, we really define the basis of our interests, and it is the interests that generate benefits for us, as well as presence.

One of the actions that allows to establish this method of work is to control the day to day of the fair, from the day before the beginning, where you can see where your potential competitors have been at the fair, until the day of the end, where you can write down all the good ideas that you have seen at the fair, both in your booth and in the booths of others.

The Post-Show

Usually after the show we are saturated with contacts, we see business opportunities everywhere, we have seen people very enthusiastic about our products, and now it’s time to sit down and start thinking about how to close the deal.

The post-fair follow-up with an existing customer most often results in a continuation of the relationship, in some cases with a little more push to have had a personal deal, and especially if they have launched new products or services at the show.

If the customer is new, we have made a first step because they already know us and we have to give them a good image after the show.

Sometimes, when the show is over and we have to evaluate the quality of the new contacts, doubts arise. To avoid this, one of the things we can do is to put a letter or symbol on the card when the customer gives it to us or when he leaves the stand, so that he does not see us writing anything on his card, for example a H > hot, a T > temperate, an F > cold. This is important because we usually never remember exactly what our conversation with the prospect was like.

Another factor that often happens is that the customer goes to a trade show with his mouth full of numbers and his eyes full of possibilities, and when he gets to our booth he wants to buy our office desks, and then when he comes back to reality he realizes he has a budget to meet and he has to make a cold decision.

If we have identified the customer and his interests during the fair, we can then make commercial actions tailored to the interest we perceive at the fair and not waste time on contacts that do not bring us anything interesting.

If it is a customer C, we can call him after the show and see what we can offer him directly.

If it is customer T or F, we can add them directly to the database and have them receive all our commercial communications (mailings, e-mails, etc.).

An action that people like to receive after the fair is a small letter with details, for example, total number of visitors, number of visitors to our stand, what anecdotes occurred during the fair, which authorities visited the fair and what they did there, etc.

This data can also be sent to the media to be published and in this way reach potential clients who did not attend the fair and whom we are interested in informing about our commercial activities.

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