Skip to content

Trade shows and exhibitions

    Trade shows and exhibitions

    Trade shows and exhibitions are specialist market places that allow exhibitors to promote their products and services, reach new customers and generate new sales. They also give visitors the opportunity to find out about the products and services on display.

    Trade shows and exhibitions can also provide business people with the opportunity to network and make useful contacts with other people working in their industry.

    This guide aims to help you get the best from exhibiting at one of these events or attending as a visitor.

    Advantages and disadvantages of trade shows and exhibitions
    Exhibiting at trade shows can bring a number of benefits to your business. You can meet directly with potential customers and generate leads. However, success is not guaranteed and there are a number of costs involved. Consider the pros and cons before you decide to invest your time and money.

    Advantages of exhibiting at trade shows
    The benefits of exhibiting include:

    Raise awareness – exhibiting at industry events is a good way to raise your profiles and generate brand awareness. As well as taking a stand at an event, there are usually other advertising and sponsorship opportunities.
    Meet in person – meeting face-to-face with potential customers is a great way to start building relationships.
    Networking – trade shows are a great way to meet potential new customers, suppliers and to learn more about your competitors.
    Launch new product – trade shows are a good place to introduce a new product or service. Being able to explain your offering in person and answer questions is ideal if your product is innovative.
    Build your database – meeting with potential customers at an exhibition helps you to start building your marketing lists and generate qualified sales leads.
    Disadvantages of exhibiting at trade shows
    Some of the downsides of taking a stand at an exhibition include:

    Costs – there are a number of costs including; stand space, stand design and build, travel and accommodation for staff.
    Competition – it is likely your competitors will also be exhibiting at the event. You’ll need to stand out to get the attention of potential customers.
    Results aren’t guaranteed – despite the investment of exhibiting, you are not guaranteed any sales leads.
    Potential low turnouts – without big name speakers and exhibitors or the right publicity, trade shows may not have enough delegates to make your presence worthwhile. Do your research before choosing to exhibit at a particular event.

    Choose the right trade fair
    Finding the right trade fair is essential. If the area of interest it covers is too specialist or too broad, it is unlikely to attract visitors who want to buy what you have to sell or exhibitors offering the products and services you are looking to source. Not all events will attract large numbers of delegates, so do you research and find out how popular an exhibition has been in previous years.

    If you are exhibiting
    Start by making a profile of the customers you want to reach. Identify their special interests and where they are located. Then take a look at the most likely trade fairs for your industry sector, and try to match them with these customers. See understand your customers’ needs.

    Most established exhibitions will be able to provide a detailed breakdown of the number and type of visitors from previous years. This will give a good indication of whether the types of customers you are targeting are likely to be there.

    Attending as a delegate
    Work out what you want to achieve before you go. What kinds of product or service do you want to find out about? Who do you want to meet? Match your requirements against what the most likely trade fairs have to offer. You should be able to get a list of the companies planning to exhibit before you attend. This will help you avoid a wasted journey.

    Identify the right trade fair
    You can also contact specific venues, ask a relevant trade association or contact your local Chamber of Commerce to find out what’s on in your area.

    Before booking, find out more about the characteristics of any fairs that look promising. Consider:

    the delegates
    delegate spending power
    the other exhibitors
    any data from past events
    The organisers of a good trade fair should be able to supply this kind of information.

    Search for business events in Northern Ireland on the Events Finder.


    Open chat
    Scan the code
    Can we help you?