Using trade shows to grow sales is the biggest reason for exhibitor participation.

That's stating the obvious right?

And yet, many exhibitors who have this aim don't capitalise fully on the event sales opportunity.

Use the following tips to ensure that you make the most of every event.

Take steps to meet the companies that can really transform your business

Ask any business owner who their dream clients are.

We're talking about the companies they believe can transform their enterprise. The ones who can skyrocket their sales. 

They will reel off those company names very quickly. 

Yet, very few of these same owners will ask a show organiser if those hoped-for clients attend the show they are about to book into.

So ask!

Ask to see the names of companies that attended the last event. How many of your dream businesses attended?

Look at the job titles of the people who attended from the companies you would most like to be doing business with.

How is your sales picture looking now?

Does that mean you shouldn't exhibit if those big prospects didn't visit? Not necessarily if the calibre of other attendee businesses is high.

But if some or all of your target businesses are represented, get excited and start planning to meet them.

Why you should engage in pre-show marketing to key business prospects

Here's an important fact about exhibiting;

If you have done your homework, you know that lots of prospective clients will be attending the show.

  • Therefore, not alerting to those companies to your presence is a wasted opportunity
  • As an exhibitor, you will be competing for visitor attention
  • Other exhibitors will be doing their best to get those same buyers onto their stands
  • Seminar theatres, conference sessions, new product showcases, coffee, and eating opportunities could snag your would-be clients and stop them from meeting you

So; invite top prospects, important clients and dormant clients and give all of them excellent business reasons for doing so.

Repeat your invitation if they don't reply to your first offer.

Repeat your invitation again if you have to. Don't be half-hearted. Exhibiting is too good a sales opportunity to squander.

Use exhibitions as keystones in your marketing calendar

When you take part in a trade show, you will certainly meet people and businesses that your company has never met or dealt with before.

This is one of the big attractions of shows for exhibitors when it comes to developing new business.

But, you also have the opportunity and an excellent reason to;

  • Contact your current clients
  • Re-ignite dormant clients
  • Get closer to your hot prospects
  • Speed-up your slower-burn leads
  • Meet your would-be distributors
  • Cultivate those important media contacts and  journalists

Use shows as events that you can build extra marketing activity around in your sales year. Doing so will extend and enhance the value of your event investment.

Trade shows and building databases: Two things that go together extremely well

If you are a start-up business, new in the market, a trade show is going to help you build a database of prospective and confirmed clients very quickly.

I know many exhibitors who use trade shows as the only form of marketing to build their enterprises.

They have never advertised, run email or telemarketing campaigns, have done very little with social media but, their businesses have thrived none the less.

Has your business has been trading for some years and you already have an extensive list of clients?  

The names and details that you collect at a trade show will keep your database, your sales building block, up to date.

People move jobs. They may join other companies or get promoted, their job titles change.

They may move locations; get married; their companies may acquire others or be acquired. 

All these things affect the data and information your business relies on to develop those hoped-for big sales.

The most active and interested companies attend trade shows

What trade shows do very effectively, is attract the most active and interested specifiers in a market.

Anyone who makes the effort to travel to a show is telling you that they are on the hunt for something.

They may have a problem to solve, a deadline to meet, an unexpected order to fulfil.

Attending for them is about finding solutions. They come in a buying frame of mind.

And guess what: many of these active buyers will be the very same people that your business markets to throughout the year.

They will be people and businesses that are in your sales database, your CRM system or on that dream list of clients that you keep somewhere.

They will be from enterprises that you would like to know more about and that you would very much like to be talking to. 

Reach out to them. Sell to them. Invite them to your next event. Convert dream clients into real live ones. 

David O’Beirne is Managing Director of The Exhibition Agency a company that specialises in helping exhibitors improve their results from exhibiting and live events. If you'd like some fresh ideas for your events, do get in touch.

David O’Beirne
The Exhibition Agency Ltd
63 Vera Avenue, London N21 1RJ  
T. 0203 633 4665
M. 07858 374 051


The views and opinions expressed in these blogs are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ESSA, its members, board or staff. Our members represent a broad range of views within the event industry, and we have provided this section of the website for their opinions to be openly heard and discussed.

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