Showing your business at a trade event

Showing your business at a trade event can be a very rewarding experience and good for raising brand awareness. It can not only help to promote your brand but support marketing and relationship-building for the long term. Before you decide which show is right for you it will be worthwhile to plan what you want to achieve beforehand.

Set goals

Going to a trade event is an exciting opportunity for your business and to make the most of this it is important to set clear goals before you go. Set SMART goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

For example:

  • To be featured in significant trade press such as Crafts Magazine, Vogue and Elle Decoration etc
  • To sell £3,000 worth of products at the show and £1500 in follow-up sales
  • To get 250 new people signed up to the newsletter
  • To make contact with 12 new buyers/international stores

In addition, rewards such as learning to talk about your work confidently and gaining insights and feedback from potential customers on new products can be invaluable. Don’t be afraid to list the goals which are most valuable to you and the development of your business.

Make a plan

Knowing what you want to achieve is only the first step. It is important to plan what you need to reach your goals. Start planning up to three months ahead of the show.

An outline of a possible action plan, highlighting possible priorities in the four weeks prior to the trade event with further information on what to consider when planning for a trade show can be found in the download at the top of this page.

Planning what to show trade shows are not only an opportunity to show and launch new products, but are also ideal for extending the audience for your existing best-selling products. Very often a buyer will be looking for new products/pieces which are different to the rest of their suppliers/stockists and increasingly they will be looking for exclusivity for a particular product or colourway, so it may be helpful to be ready to offer exclusive colourways on particular products.

Consider the following when selecting which products to show:

  • Products which stand out from others and can feature prominently on your stand, for example, an item in an unusual colour or on a large scale could attract customers to your stand, even if they then order ‘safer’ colours or sizes for their outlets. They could also be used for media promotional purposes ahead of the show date
  • The price range for your collection and the audience/stockists that you are looking to attract. Cost is a key consideration for buyers, so make sure that you have a price list that includes the Recommended Retail Price (RRP)
  • The packaging and presentation of your products which can easily boost the perception and value to the buyer. It could be worthwhile to consider swing tickets, labels, gift packs and any additional point of sale materials which you are able to offer a retailer who stocks your products
  • The ideal shops/stockists that you’d like to stock your work in any particular area. Could you offer them exclusive ranges, colours and finishes? Consider the number of exclusive and multiple pieces you are able to offer within your collection or range


Have your promotion and sales tools ready. Make sure that all your paperwork and presentation materials are consistently branded to create the right impression. This might include business cards, website, brochures, price lists, order forms and press packs to all printed material included in the sales process.

Selecting the right trade show

The types of trade events are as extensive as the areas that they cover so selecting the right one is essential. Consider the following when choosing the trade show which is right for your business:

  • Trade fair indexes and online directories can help to identify the types, locations and dates for events for your particular industry and market with resources. For example, My Expo and 10times
  • Research the most valuable industry events through reviews, the media and recommendations Ask peers who have attended events how relevant shows worked for their business
  • Check out the event as a visitor to see if it’s appropriate for your brand and attracts the type and number of customers that you want to promote and sell to

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