Previously we had discussed the importance and the benefits that participating in trade shows can generate. When making a decision to form part of a trade show, there are three important stages that you must include in your plan of action: a pre-fair stage, during the fair stage, and a post fair stage.

Pre Fair Stage: You must start by defining very clearly which business you are looking for, how much, how and when do you want it.  Concurrently, you need to define the profile of the clients you are seeking, what their needs are, and what adds value to them. This will help you define what you require from your clients in order to make it worth your while to offer what you have. One key factor is considering your USP-Unique Selling Proposition. Make sure to calculate your break-even point with which you can cover the expenses of participating in the fair or in the promotional event. Additionally, define how many follow up processes you are willing to carry out afterwards, meaning, you need to define the follow up and resources required for each contact you make during the trade show.

After you have accomplished the above, it is recommended that you reserve your space in each respective trade show/fair with sufficient lead time. Always remember that you need to prepare yourself for each fair, conscious that the preparation for each is important as is your participation. The preparation will play an important role in determining the success you will obtain in the show. This can be accomplished through the use of a “CheckList”.

Defining your objectives for your participation in the trade show, including your expectations for each of the clients you are targeting will help you to define the specific profiles of your target. Your participation in fairs is part of your prospecting process, which starts with your customer relations management program and your daily contacts. You should continuously be asking for information about who your contacts know that will be participating in specific fairs, and the names of the potential clients that you could contact in each one.

During the fair stage: It is advisable that you participate in the joint planning sessions, if any, with the other participants in the show, and develop good personal relations with them. Let them know what your specific objectives for the fair are and suggest to them, how they can assist in accomplishing them. Additionally, you can proceed to prepare a detailed agenda for the days of the fair, which should address: meetings with clients, time to take care of general public, and the time you will use to visit other stands and do additional networking.  It is very important that you go to the fair ahead of time so you can stand correctly, monitor the flow of visitors, identify strategic positions and so forth.  Finally make all the notes you can, so that the post fair stage can be categorized in a more effective manner.

Post fair stage: Throughout the post fair stage, you can execute the corresponding follow up with the prospects that you identified in the fair. A good strategy to determine whether your objectives were met is to meet with the coordinating team and evaluate/quantify the results of your participation. Define any bottlenecks, limitations, challenges, strengths and define the improvements you need to implement in the same and other fairs.

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To summarize the above discussion, the graphical process of planning, when participating in fairs is the following: