Maybe you’ve seen the signs for the Home and Garden Expo at your local convention center or your employer has sent you to a trade show to gather information.

If you’ve attended either as a consumer or industry insider, you know trade shows can offer you a huge opportunity to gather ideas and information.

What is a trade show? Or interested in running a trade show and maybe don’t know where to begin?

Read on to learn about the different types of trade shows and why you should consider participation in one.

What Is a Trade Show?

Let’s start with the basics and discuss what is a trade show first. A trade show is where a large group of people related to a particular industry comes together in one place for several days.

It allows industry insiders to display, demonstrate, and discuss what they know about the field.

For example, a beauty trade show would allow everyone from manufacturers to service providers an opportunity to share. In one booth you might find a display from a manufacturer showing their new foundation line. In the next booth, you might find a makeup artist showing how to create dramatic eyes with different brands of makeup.

Trade shows allow all the people associated with the industry the opportunity to come together in one place.

Here they can learn from industry insiders. They can get leads. They can get ideas and be inspired by where they could take their own business. It allows people from the same field to make connections with each other that might not otherwise be able to do.

Instead of being competitors, at a trade show, they are all from the same side learning and growing together.

Trade show participants might learn of franchising opportunities or get opportunities to purchase with rates not normally available.

Some trade shows are only open to industry insiders, while others are open to the public, more on this later. Many professional associations will host trade shows to bring together those who are members of their professional association.

Types of Trade Shows

There are a few different ways a trade show can run. They could:

  • Be open only to those within the association or industry
  • Open to the general public
  • Allow both industry insiders and the general public to participate

Let’s take a closer look at these different ways to run a trade show.

Industry-Specific Trade Shows

An industry-specific trade show, as the name implies, is a trade show run for those in a certain field. For example:

  • Publisher trade shows
  • Construction trade shows
  • Restaurant industry trade shows
  • Computer and technology trade shows
  • Salon trade shows

These shows bring together large groups of people who participate in the same industry. Advantages of doing a trade show with people in the same industry include:

  • Finding industry contacts
  • Learning from experts
  • Seeing industry trends and changes first hand
  • Product information

Another big advantage is showcasing your role in the industry and perhaps getting noticed by others in the industry. They will start to recognize you as knowledgeable and at the forefront of the industry.

Perhaps you have developed a product or materials that are beneficial to your industry. This is a great place to show it off to many people in the field. Up to 86% of people who attend trade shows are the decision-makers or buyers for their company. This is a great way to get leads and make some potential sales.

One of the caveats of a trade show is getting noticed because of the large number of people. You need to go in with a plan to get noticed. Whether your display is unique, you provide some free give-aways or even live demonstrations.

Consumer Trade Shows

This type of trade show often referred to as an expo, is slightly different. Instead of being specifically for those in the industry, it invites consumers who might be interested in the specific associated products or services.

So, in this type of trade show, many in the same industry will come together. But instead of for each other, it will be to showcase their wares and services to the public.

Common consumer trade shows include:

  • Home and garden trade expos
  • Gifts and toys
  • Bride expo
  • New baby expo
  • Arts and crafts expo

This is a great way to get noticed by consumers who might be interested in what you do professionally.

At a trade of 10,000 attendees, there might be 1,000 exhibitors. With these numbers, you expect to have 200 visitors per day at your booth. You probably can’t make 200 sales calls on a normal day at the office.

The trade show allows you to connect with a large number of people in a short amount of time.

Industry and Consumer Trade Shows Together

In the third type of trade show, both consumers and industry insiders participate.

In some cases, the show will be open to industry members first, then follow with consumers. In other cases, both groups attend at the same time.

As a participant in these types of shows, you’d want to be prepared to talk to both groups about what you do and what products and services you provide. For example, you might offer more bulk information to industry people than consumers.

Preparing for a Trade Show

If you plan to participate in a trade show, there are several things you should consider to prepare.

  • Plan ahead for the event with dates even a year in advance
  • Booth and Display
  • Setup and teardown of your booth
  • Manning your booth
  • Demonstrations or live presentations
  • Handout and freebies

You want others to leave the trade show with information from you, whether that is literature, business cards, or any other handouts.

Trade Show Basics

What is a trade show? It’s a great opportunity to showcase what you do and to learn about things in your industry from others.

To get more information about trade shows and the benefits of participating, contact us today.