Successful participation trade fairs

Participating in trade shows is an excellent marketing activity. However, it is also resourceful. Please find ten tips to make the most of your investment in trade fair participation below!

1. Clearly define your goals

It is important to have a clear understanding of your objective at the fair. Once you define this, you can work efficiently and effectively to meet that goal. Some goals for your trade fair participation may be:

  • Define goals - NEPC NigeriaAcquisition of new customers
  • Customer care: building on existing business relations
  • Increasing company awareness
  • Presentation of new products and services
  • Image improvement of company / brand
  • Conclusions of sales and contracts
  • Opening up new markets, discovering market niches
  • Forging successful partnerships / cooperation partners
  • Market research via the trade fair (collecting new market / buyer / business info, testing the market)

More goals can be added for sure. Just make sure that you prioritize. Try to make your goals specific and realistic. Clear and measurable goals will also help you to select the right trade fair. Furthermore, setting tangible goals contribute to a focused action plan and consistent communication towards team members such that they know what to achieve. At the end, the goals can be used for measurement of success after the trade fair.


2. Check if you are export ready for the market(s)

Export ready - NEPC NigeriaMake sure that you are ready for the market(s) and buyer(s). Are you able to comply with the specific mandatory requirements of the preferred buyer. Think about readiness in terms of legal requirements, standards, product & packaging requirements, promotion requirements, sales and delivery. Can you also compete with price?

Besides, you must ensure that all parts of your business are ‘export ready’. It requires a long term commitment to become a successful exporter. Check your readiness via the interactive NEPC-checker and see where you stand at this moment!

3. Select the right trade fair

Make sure you choose the most suitable trade fair for your business and your participation. Some important decision criteria for trade fair selection include:

  • Select right fair - NEPC NigeriaCheck and research your preferred market(s) and buyers before selecting a fair
  • Check if a trade fair is a good market entry point in the market of your choice
  • Check the trade fair concept, period and cross-check with other events
  • Check exhibitors, visitor numbers, profiles and the products
  • Check exhibitor and visitor numbers and profiles and the products
  • Check costs, type and location of space available
  • Check international trade show directories to find applicable fairs (e.g. or
  • Check the assistance that the fair may offer you (via the exhibitor manual)
  • Check exhibitor catalogues of previous years
4. Make a detailed preparation for successful participation in the fair

Another key for success is a thorough preparation for the trade fair. Make sure you start preparation in time. This is key for the eventual success of participating in a trade fair. In order to properly prepare you should:

  • Preparation planning - NEPC NigeriaMake a concept exhibition plan
  • Set the goals
  • prepare a budget
  • Decide on participation
  • Establish a project team and create commitment for the goals
  • Take into account a 12-month preparation period
  • Prepare a checklist and set deadlines

NEPC supports you to efficiently prepare yourself. Download the trade fair checklist and make sure your trade fair participation becomes a success!

5. Implement proactive visitor marketing

Visitor marketing - NEPC Nigeria

Sending invitations to your potential visitors is among the most effective instruments for visitor marketing. Over 80% of all professional visitors plan their visits to a fair well in advance and arrange important appointments before the fair. You are advised to market your own presence at the fair. Try to draw the attention of potential visitors well in advance. Encourage them to visit your stand. Stand out from the crowd!

Make a long list of potential visitors by checking:

  • the exhibitor database at the website of the trade fair
  • relevant international business directories
  • the member lists of some relevant industry associations in your preferred market(s)

Consider sending a “Save the Date”-email and well written invitations. Try to be creative in your invitations. With an attractive invitation you will differentiate yourself and generate interest. Dare to be different. Additionally, you could also make a personal phone call shortly before the start of the fair.

Lastly, make sure you use your website and relevant social media channels for promoting your trade fair participation. You can present an appointment form on your website to invite buyers directly making appointments with you at the fair.

Last but not least, make sure you use your website and relevant social media channels for promoting your trade fair visit. You can present an appointment form on your website to invite buyers directly making appointments with you at the fair.

6. Optimise your stand behaviour

It is critical to understand the needs of your visitors before you pitch your product and your company. Try to find out the needs and expectations of your visitors at the fair. Start asking open questions such as: What are you looking for? How can I help you? What do you need?

After exploring the needs and breaking the ice, pitch your product based on the customers’ needs. This includes specific info regarding:

  • Your solution to the needs
  • Your added value
  • The (unique) benefits: what makes you stand out from the competition
  • Track record has convincing power
  • Supporting evidence

Stand behaviour - NEPC Nigeria

Manage different customers effectively. Be well prepared when talking to invited customers. For the really interested ones, listen more carefully to them. Use the tips above and start the sales process! Be careful with giving too much detailed information to your competitors. However, take note of your competitors’ strength during the trade fair. Make appointments to get in touch with relevant press.

Key success factors for optimal stand behaviour:

  • Sell yourself first
  • Be approachable, honest, polite and hospitable
  • Don’t be too eager, don’t lean back either
  • It’s all about communication!
  • Understand the business culture of the visitors
7. Effective lead management (contact forms)

Manage your leads effectively. Make use of a quality contact form at the fair. This ensures that you document the needs of your (potential) client and the desired action. After the fair, select the right follow-up. For the contact form, we advice the simpler, the better. Find a sample  contact form that you can use


Good follow-up means reacting quickly and addressing the actions agreed upon with the visitor. Preferably, try to exceed the expectations of your visitor(s) in terms of speed and the nature of reaction.

Letters follow-up - NEPC NigeriaYour contact form will ensure effective follow-up based on the needs of your client. Create time after the fair for immediate necessary follow-up. This includes:

  • Send thank you letters to important your visitors and potential clients
  • Make necessary follow-up calls
  • Attend to the orders generated appropriately
  • Invite buyers to purchase from you again
  • Develop a mailing list and use it for future purposes
  • Send the info you promised at the fair (samples, brochures, price lists, or any other). This is critical for building your reputation.
9. Monitor and evaluate your trade fair participation

Monitoring success of trade fair - NEPC Nigeria

Always measure the success of your participation at trade fairs. The goals you set up-front are your starting point. Document the results of your trade fair participation. This gives you the opportunity to filter information about the success of the fair. De-briefing sessions with the team should be carried out; document results, good practices, strong points and points for improvements. The lessons learnt could be used in preparing for your next participation. 

10. Make use of the trade fair services provided by NEPC

NEPC offers support for participation at international trade fairs/exhibitions. These include:

  • Provision of free stands/booth (Nigerian pavilion)
  • Air-freighting of stipulated quantity of products samples
  • Provision of interpreters where necessary
  • Other logistic assistance as may be necessary

To find out the fairs for which NEPC offers support, check out the event calendar.