What is a Trade Show: Your Easy Guide to a Successful Event

what is a trade show

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Recently updated on April 5th, 2023

What is a trade show?

A trade show is an event for companies and organizations to showcase their goods and services to prospective clients, business partners, and investors. Most trade shows focus on a particular industry, such as food and beverage, healthcare, sports, etc.

People organize major trade shows in convention centers and venues which can last for days. The local trade shows happen at a local arena, convention center, or hotel, allowing a business to connect with possible prospects.

They’re a perfect marketing tool to help businesses sell their products, generate leads, engage with new customers, and nurture relationships with existing clients.

What is the difference between trade shows and fairs?

Due to the many similarities between trade shows and trade fairs, people use the words trade shows and trade fairs interchangeably. However, they are different from a trade fair in some ways:


In a trade show, they focus only on one niche industry per event and cater to larger companies. They also provide strictly B2B, trade-only access, which means only members of the specific industry can attend.

On the other hand, trade fairs are open to the general public. It can include consumers, business owners, company representatives, trade associations, and investors.


A trade show focuses on exhibition industry research, building new relationships, and potentially forming strategic partnerships with other companies in the same niche industry. Exhibitors also present their upcoming products nearing their launch during breakout sessions at these shows.

While at trade fairs, exhibitors have two main goals to achieve. That is to maximize sales and generate leads. Since there are no limits on who can attend, they can get maximum foot traffic in just a few days.

How do you benefit from a trade show?

strike indoor trade show with 10x10 and 20x10 tent frames

As an exhibitor, you can showcase and demonstrate your products and services to potential customers, industry professionals, and other stakeholders.

You can benefit from trade shows in several ways:

Meet potential customers in person.

In trade shows, you can interact with potential customers face-to-face. With this, you can establish personal connections and build trust.

Have an engaging audience.

Educating your attendees helps you understand their needs and preferences to refine your marketing and sales strategies.

Check out the competition.

You can check what your competitors do, their pricing strategies, and the marketing tactics they have.

Find valuable partners.

Trade shows are events where you can find it valuable to network and identify potential business partners in specific industries, including suppliers, distributors, and other stakeholders in a particular industry.

Expand your audience.

You can reach a large audience of potential customers and industry leaders by participating in trade shows.

Get immediate feedback.

You can gather instant feedback from potential customers and industry professionals to improve your marketing strategies.

Boost Your Customer Loyalty.

Connect with your existing clients and strengthen relationships during trade shows and networking events. It helps build loyalty and increase the likelihood of repeat business.

Advertise your brand.

Your business can showcase your products and services and increase visibility, which can help build brand awareness and recognition.

What Happens at a Trade Show?

trade show booth

Make sales.

Since you can interact directly with potential customers, this is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate your products and services and close deals on the spot. 

Capture leads.

You can gather leads by collecting contact information from interested visitors. Which later on you can use for follow-up sales and marketing efforts.

Analyze the competition.

You can directly observe your competitors. You can look at their product, marketing strategy, and overall brand presence. 

Engage with existing clients.

You can engage with your existing customers. You can answer questions, provide service and product demonstrations, and receive feedback.

Introduce new products or services.

Trade shows are a great platform to launch new products or services. You can use the event to generate buzz, build excitement, and get feedback on the latest products and offerings.

Spot trends.

Trade shows may provide the latest news to stay up-to-date on industry trends and emerging technologies.

How much does it cost to be at a Trade Show?

The cost of exhibiting at a trade show varies depending on the size of your booth and the level of technology required. 

For booths smaller than 20 ft. x 20 ft., you can expect to pay at least $300 per square foot. 

For larger booths, between 20 ft. x 2 ft. and above, you can expect to pay between $200-300 per square foot. 

However, your exhibit requires extensive audiovisual or technology equipment. In that case, you can expect to pay towards the higher end of the price range, if not more. 

It is necessary to consider these factors when budgeting and buying decisions for your exhibit and to negotiate prices with vendors when possible.

Tips for Planning a Successful Tradeshow

what is a trade show: your easy guide to a successful event

Think Out of the Box.

Use your creativity to divide the space into distinct areas to offer a unique experience instead of just one spot. Mix and match decors, lighting, and music can deliver a more immersive and memorable experience for your attendees.

Plan and do the layout early. 

It is crucial to start planning to get a seamless and well-organized trade show. Securing a venue six to twelve months ahead is ideal, especially for larger trade shows. Once confirmed, you can begin designing the space and planning the traffic flow. 

Are Trade Shows Profitable?

Joining trade shows works great for generating leads and boosting sales, but it can be unprofitable if not done right.

It is vital to carefully plan and make strategic decisions to get a healthy return on investment (ROI).

So you can avoid wasting time, effort, and marketing budget, only get the space you need. Instead, focus on quality interactions with your visitors.

Planning is another vital factor.

Make a checklist and ensure everyone on your team knows the tasks. Secure all the necessary materials and equipment like brochures, samples, or promotional items.

Use technology to leverage your booth. QR codes or digital signage can make your booth more interactive and engaging. But do not overdo it.

Lastly, selecting the right team members and announcing your event through various marketing platforms is crucial.

Choose someone well-trained with the right skills, knowledge, and experience to staff your booth.

Promote your participation in the trade show through social media, email newsletters, or ads. Make it easy for clients, prospects, and industry contacts to find you by providing your booth location.

With these tips, you can increase your chances of a successful and profitable trade show experience.

Why Do Companies Lose Money at Trade Shows?

Companies can lose money at trade shows for a variety of reasons.

One major factor is a failure to plan ahead and prepare adequately for the event. This can result in missed opportunities, higher costs, and a less successful outcome.

Another reason is a failure to promote the booth effectively, leading to a lack of engagement with potential customers and missed opportunities for generating leads. Poorly designed displays or unengaging staff members can also fail to attract visitors and turn off potential customers.

Finally, a lack of follow-up with leads after the event can result in wasted resources and missed opportunities for sales.

What Do You Need for a Trade Show?

Your business will need various essential items and resources to participate in a trade show. 

Secure an event space.

Have a designated area to showcase your products or services and engage with attendees. 

Stand with supporting collaterals.

Your well-designed booth should always have stands and equipment to support and showcase your company and products.

Travel and Transportation

Plan for how you will get to and from the event venue, making reservations and arrangements for accommodations during your stay.

Marketing collateral

Your potential customers should have access to your promotional materials to help build interest in your brand.

Knowledgeable Staff

A knowledgeable and engaging staff helps to represent your company and interact with visitors.

What is a trade show, and how does it work?

Trade shows are events where businesses and organizations come together to display their products and services to potential buyers, investors, and stakeholders.

At these events, businesses can sell their products, generate leads, and engage with potential customers. They can also use trade shows to nurture relationships with existing clients.

Why do people go to trade shows?

People go to learn, network, and gather information. It helps the world around them stay competitive and successful in their industry.

How to make your trade show booth stand out?

You can make your trade show booth stand out in several ways. Use visual elements like logos and graphics. You can even attract them with discounts or special deals too.

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About Strike
Strike Visuals is family-owned and operated in Centerville, Utah. Just north of Salt Lake City. Strike was founded to enrich and elevate the lives of the people that work here and the clients we serve. We serve our clients by creating outdoor event marketing and trade show masterpieces.
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