10 TIPS for First Time Exhibitors
How to Have a Successful Trade Show in the United States
Bear with us if some of this information is somewhat obvious, but we wanted to share some tips to help you prepare as much as possible for h & h americas:
Before the trade fair some pre-show homework is required. Please inform yourself about the target market, the most important companies in the sector (your competitors), the retailers, research stores in the target country, city, area and contact them ahead of time. Invite influencers. Know who your friends and “enemies” are and who you would like to initiate business with. We recommend contacting the buyers ahead of time and to take an active approach. Please check with your trade show team to see if a buyer invitation program exists. Use all resources possible and be active. Exposure is the key!
One of the most important steps is to have an enticing and interesting booth so visitors are interested in learning more about you and your products. Know the facts about your products and be able to share stories about your company. Make sure your staff is smiling and actively engaging with the trade show visitors. ‘Hiding’ behind a desk, laptop or phone could mean lost business opportunities.
Please make yourself aware of possible business and cultural differences in the target country. In the US people are naturally informal, they like to casually talk and share information. Be prepared for a lot of small talk and story telling. The phrase ‘I do not know’ means you are not well prepared. Invite visitors into your booth, have them feel your products, share trends, stories and experiences. The more they know you the better they remember you. Please know more than only the facts. Have pricing, colors, materials and other information readily available or tell your visitors that you need to doublecheck with HQ (ex.) about the details and will get back to them. Remember to scan the visitor
badge and to take a business card right away.
badge and to take a business card right away.
Taking part in a trade fair can be costly. Besides the obvious cost of stand space and construction, please calculate things like travel, transportation, sample handouts, logistics & warehousing (these can be costly in the USA), storage (if needed) and shipping. It is recommended to work with your show team to ask as many questions as possible – this way you’ll avoid financial surprises. Do not assume that anything is for free.
Since you may not be known in the new market yet it is very important to create interest, curiosity and ‘fear of missing out’. Be visible so that everyone visiting the show plans to stop by and check out your cool and interesting products. Update and make the most of your digital show profile. Digital advertisements and social media posts can help you create a pre-show buzz. Post frequently and let people, such as influencers, know about your trade fair presence.
In the US everything is fast paced. Buyers are looking for instant information and solutions. Please do your homework upfront and know pricing, quantities, production and delivery times. Information and flyers in the US market should ideally be brief and concise. Americans usually don’t take time to read a lot of details. Exhibiting in the USA makes most sense if you are already able to fulfill orders. For example, when a big retailer comes to buy from you they are looking for a solution now and not in 2 years.
Add some buffer to your established budget if any spontaneous ideas or opportunities arise. Maybe you need additional booth equipment, logistics or storage, advertising, taking visitors out, going on a store check tour? It is important to set a budget and to re evaluate it every year based on prior needs and expenses.
You are new to a market and a show and initially no one knows you. Although difficult this is a very common situation. Even though you may be well known in your home market, entering a new country, a new market and trade show means starting from zero. As a general rule it is recommended to go through 3 show cycles, establish relationships and spread the word about your company and product. Take initiative and make sure everyone sees and hears about you in diverse ways. Set up appointments at the show in advance, especially from the invite list. Make sure to have a plan for lead generation and tracking. Utilize the show lead scanning tools to help you set up meetings and follow-ups and make use of any promotional codes.
Just because the show is over does not mean your work is over. In the US especially it is critical to remain in peoples’ minds and stay connected post-show. Even with the visitors who did not see you at the show, but only attended digitally. Stay connected and do not take no-shows or no interest personal. Many good things happen through referrals and word of mouth. It is also important to make use of post-show opportunities, such as social media and digital platform participation.
When entering a new country and market it is very difficult to measure your success based on your first show ROI. The number of orders written and money spent are not your only parameters. The journey has just started and you have made your first connections. The US retailers need to get to know you, so make a long term plan and develop a 3-4 show edition strategy.