For startups, trade shows are the equivalent of the first day of school. They’re exciting, nerve-wracking, and incredibly stressful, or at least, they can be. For business owners that want to ensure that their venture is a success, trade shows are, without a doubt, crucial. They offer businesses a chance to market themselves and their brand to potential customers and other business owners.

It’s no secret that the key to success in the business industry is creating a strong and well-known brand. One of the first steps to doing that is attending your first trade show. It might be scary and nerve-wracking, but if you’re serious about success, it’s a must. Of course, it’s not just a case of turning up, setting up your stand and that’s it. If you want to use trade shows to build your success, you need to know what it takes to be successful.

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The truth is, when it comes to trade show success, there are a lot of things to consider. However, there are six things that are the most crucial. Want to know what these are? Yes - then keep reading.

1. Make your stand eye-catching

Your stand will be nestled amongst hundreds of other stands. So if you’re going to make the most of attending a trade show, you need to ensure that your stand stands out from the crowd. Otherwise, the chances are that people will just pass your stand by. The question is, of course, how can you make your stand, stand out?

The key is to make your stand as eye-catching as possible because the more interesting it looks, the more people you will get coming to have a look. Select a color scheme for your stand and stick to it. Ideally, this should be something that links to your company’s branding in some way or another.

2. Hand out goody bags  

It’s all well and good telling people about what your brand offers, but when they’re speaking to lots of stall owners, they’ll soon forget. So why not put together some goody bags to hand out to people that visit your stand? Sure, you could just hand out business cards or leaflets, but they’ll soon get lost if the attendees have nowhere to put them. That’s why handing out goody bags is such a good idea, as your information is less likely to get lost.

The question is, what should you put in them? The most important thing is, of course, literature about your business. Think leaflets, brochures, business cards, and flyers. If you don’t enough of these, use a site like to get more. As well as leaflets and business cards, pop some little treats in your goody bags. Sweets, discount codes, keychains, and pens with your company name on - get creative and see what ideas come to you.

3. Run an incentive

To encourage people to come over to your stand and interact with you, consider running an incentive. This could be a giveaway or a competition; it doesn’t matter which. All that matters is that you run an incentive that will encourage people to come over to your stand and interact with you.

Make sure that whatever incentive you offer, you ask all entrants to give you their contact details. That way, you can add them to your mailing list. It doesn’t matter if the prize for your incentive isn’t expensive, it can be anything. From a bottle of bubbly to a trip somewhere, it doesn't matter what prize you offer. Just as long as the incentive encourages people to come over to your stand, that's all that matters.

4. Be friendly and smile

The biggest mistake that you can make when attending a trade fair is standing behind your stand. If you want to encourage people to come over and interact with you, you need to ensure that you appear to be friendly and welcoming. The best way to do this is to stand in front of your booth, smiling and saying hello to everyone that goes past.

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5. Don’t go for the hard sell

When someone approaches your stand, whatever you do, don’t go for the hard sell. Instead, say hello to them and ask them how they are. This is important as you’ve got a better chance of making a successful sale or adding them to a mailing list if you build a rapport with them first. So, it’s important to chat with attendees about how they are, before bringing up your business.

To do this, start by saying hello, and then ask them what has brought them to the event. Wait and see what they say and then go from there. If they mention that they’re looking for a product or service that you offer, bring it up. If not, point them in the direction of a company that offers what they’re looking for.

6. Chat with the other exhibitors

Yes, they may be your competitors, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be friendly towards the other exhibitors. Strike up a conversation with the neighboring stands and ask them about their business. Be friendly towards them, and the chances are that they’ll be friendly back. You never know, they might even send some customers your way.

Not only will getting to know the other exhibitors make your time at the trade show more enjoyable, it will also help to build your brand. When it comes to networking, the key is simply telling people about yourself and your brand and what it is that you offer. The friendlier and chattier you are, the better.

There you have it, what you need to do to ensure that your first trade show is as successful as possible. It might be nerve-wracking, and a little stressful, but trade shows are an important part of building a successful business. So you need to get to grips with what it takes to make a success of trade shows as an exhibitor.