How to prepare for a trade show as an Exhibitor

In preparation for the exhibition, it is important to plan in advance and take further action at the trade shows to make sure you get lots of value from the experience. There is a saying from the law of attraction “What you put out is what you get back”.

Planning for the tradeshow

Make a list and check it three times: 

  • Determine the types of attendees to the show and their specific needs. 
  • Highlight your innovations and trends; the feature products that differentiate your company and operations; show your strengths in aspects.  
  • Bring the appropriate samples for the tradeshow, make sure you bring all the product-specific information: material (content, weight, yarn count, finish), trim detail, specific manufacturing details, MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity) and the item cost. 
  • Great if all the product information can be organized in a readily available booklet or binder where everyone can use it as a reference.  
  • For every sample on display, it is beneficial for the prospective buyer if you tag the product with relevant information about that item.  
  • Customs, if you are traveling to another country, it is important to be totally transparent with the right documentation for importing to that country.
  • Cash, what is the amount of currency you will bring with you to pay for expenses?  It is recommended to bring some local currency for taxis, food, and any emergencies when you land.  
  • Do not bring more cash then the allowable amount for that country; if they catch you exceeding the limit, they can confiscate your money, until you prove where it came from.  Days/weeks later they will return the funds less the fine they have charged for your offense. 
  • Credit cards, you should verify if your card will be accepted in that country. You should also have a backup card for unexpected emergencies.  

Do your research before coming to the show, for hotels in the neighborhood, transportation, and restaurants? 

You may also want to research what is happening in that city during the trade show.  Make a list of things you want to do look at the costs, times, and how you will fit it into your schedule.  

Company and/or Factory Profile

It is also important that you bring a booklet or current catalog highlighting your operations.  Keep it simple, clean, and professional.   Show photos to highlight your operations:

  • Your office:
    • Merchandisers
    • Pattern/Marker department
    • QC/QA
    • Design
  • Your factory:
    • Trim
      • Receiving
      • Storage
      • Management
    • Material
      • Receiving
      • Storage
      • Management
      • Inspection – what is your process
      • Relaxing of knitted fabrics
      • Cutting – outline every stage
      • Bundling – define your method
    • Manufacturing
      • Types of machinery
      • Specialty equipment
    • Inline quality control
      • Documentation
      • Systems
      • Processes
      • Methodology
      • Troubleshooting
    • Decoratives, laser cutting, special finishing or appliques
      • Featuring your equipment
      • Techniques
      • Processes
    • Trimming
      • Illustrate your trim area
    • Pressing
      • Different types of equipment
    • Tagging 
      • Illustrate the Tagging area
    • Final inspection
      • Verification process
      • Quality Assurance
    • Packing
      • Counting and sorting of products
      • Boxing
      • Labeling
      • Pallets
    • Shipping
      • The size of your shipping space
      • The organization

For each area and or unique piece of equipment, great to note the number of machines and the make, number of employees by area or machine, and their employment history. 

In regards to equipment, it’s good to have a report that shows how often your equipment is serviced and/or calibrated.  

As the industry is constantly evolving, great to be innovative and constantly pushing the boundaries, talk about automation, compliance, show your certifications or testimonials.   

If you are focused on human rights, sustainability, and the environment feature what you are doing, but don’t make it the focus of your presentation.  It is good to present it as common practice.   

Always remain flexible to change your plan if your current or prospective buyer wants to meet to review a current or future order.     

At the Trade Show

  • Make sure your booth is welcoming for customers, easy access to look at products. 
  • Great to have your product organized by style, fabric grouping, or collection grouping, so it’s easy for customers to pull out and inquire.  
  • If the hangers or items are numbered in sequence, it is easy for everyone to manage.  
  • When you arrive at the trade show, it is beneficial to pick up a show guide; understand the show layout, your location, your booth number, and the vicinity to the washrooms.
  • Check out the show guide for special events, educate yourself, and staff about the show floor layout. 
  • Good to keep a schedule at your both for booking appointments, and to keep everyone informed of their whereabouts.   
  • Block off time from your schedule to check out the tradeshow, attend special events, and meet with current and prospective customers. 

Since you are visiting the city, seek out prospective customers and their competition.

Go look at their storefronts and the current products that they are selling.  Get to know the store and their presence in the marketplace.   Speak to the sales staff and inquire about which products are their own brands and best sellers. Take photos for reference if you are allowed. 

Then when you call to make an appointment before or after the show, let them know you visited their store.  Highlight some of your products that would be suitable for their business. 

Don’t overwhelm the customer with products that have no relevance to their target market and product focus. 

Keep it professional, be organized, do your research about the customer and provide all information with transparency and the customer will appreciate what you are offering.   

Dress professionally, always smile, be grateful for the show, the customer’s presence, and the opportunity to do business with them.

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