4 Steps to Maximise Trade Show Investment

Maximising trade show investment can increase your international sales.

Taking part in a trade show in an investment. On average, in the UK, the cost to exhibit ranges between £1500 and £ 20,000 depending on show popularity and location.  According to the Trade Show Institute, the average trade show exhibitor spends 40 percent of their budget on their exhibit alone. This includes the cost of designing an exhibit (12 percent of costs) and renting booth space (28 percent of costs).

Exhibitions can be a valuable way of building business relationships with many key prospects including (but not limited to):

  • Managing Directors/CEOs/Proprietors
  • Directors
  • Managers
  • Merchandisers
  • Buyers
  • Traders
  • Assistants
  • Agents

To make the most of a short space of time at a trade show, planning is important. The more planning you do, the more solid the foundations for profitable growth in contacts, and eventual increase in international sales, will be.

Here are the 4 steps you can take to maximise trade show investment:


Create a measurable objective, in terms of orders to be placed and sales leads to be obtained (include connections with the press, agents, distributors and other Fashion stakeholders including consultants). A successful selling strategy is about traffic and conversion. As 100% conversion is pretty much impossible, you need to make sure you collect enough names for your database to make the return from expected conversions worthwhile. The names of buyers in the database must be relevant and targeted, otherwise you will be wasting time. Setting objectives – for example: signing up new accounts online and/or high street; or promoting new designs and collections – can lead to an increase in sales.

If your trade show’s objective is aimed at increasing market visibility, you can do that by enhancing customers’ understanding of your full collection.


Now that you have an objective, you need to roll out the action plan. Make sure that the action plan starts AT LEAST 4 to 6 months before the show takes place. If you’re doing it last minute, make sure you get an expert on-board to help you. Remember that your action plan must include pre, during, and post show tasks. It must include all staff involved in the preparation, the running of the show on site, and the follow up given to all sales leads and contacts.

We have developed a specific module to help you go through all the necessary steps and ensure you are as ready as you can be. It is about implementing from the start International Best Practice. Of course, get your collection ready and available on time, and know how to edit the collection if necessary, as showing too much will not always work in your favour.

Your collection should be accompanied by a domestic price list (Europe/USA), brochure, line sheet, and press coverage.

Note also that we can help take your fashion brand to the next level of distribution to reach new markets and rapidly grow sales.


Make sure you know your unique selling point (USP) and know how to answer questions about delivery dates, logistics and payment.

Bring enough business cards – 50 cards for a 3-day show is not enough!

The action plan will be different depending on the country where you will be exhibiting.

Are you looking to expand your fashion business into the USA and European markets? We can help you make significant changes to your European approach when planning to show in the USA, and you must understand that a different approach is indeed needed.


 Top mistakes we see from some fashion exhibitors:

  • They have not researched and approached targeted buyers prior to the show. Having buyers at the same price point does not make this buyer a good buyer.
  • They have not set up a measurable goal. Exhibitors believe that connecting once on the phone or by email is sufficient to convert a buyer into placing an order. This is far from being sufficient. An exhibitor once told me that connecting brands and buyers is like courting. It is so true. You cannot get a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife by only taking the person once for a good meal or a good event out. It is about building up a relationship of confidence and trust over a series of interactions.
  • Exhibitors do not train their teams or partners/agents well enough to maximise connecting with buyers at the show, selling the Brand DNA or taking orders.
  • Exhibitors fail to understand that more than just the product is really important.

There are other elements which will make the difference between somebody taking your Brand or somebody else’s. These include customer service, speaking the same language (there are some differences even between English and American English), flexibility with delivery groups, logistics, shipping terms, duty (USA), payment terms etc.

More Tips to Help You Capitalise on Your Trade Show

  • The “shopping experience” has to be an easy one. Challenge yourself to see how your collection, the colours, the fabrics and your marketing are all aligned and being presented to the buyers you are targeting.
  • Make sure you take no risk in getting the collection in on time for the show and, in the appropriate cities, set some time aside to visit retailers and department stores to get a better feel for the market, the competitors and the price points.

maximise trade show investment

Why not let our experience help you grow your export sales internationally and build your brand to a global audience, including UK, USA to name a few countries. We offer a free, no-obligation call where we can discuss your biggest challenge when it comes to growing your business internationally

Should you be interested in maximising your trade show investment, let us know! Simply email us today so we can talk in detail.






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Fashion and Retail Business Development Team

Thierry represents our Fashion & Retail Business Development Team. We develop bespoke market entry strategies for companies in the fashion industry who are aspiring to export, or who already trade internationally. We also support retail businesses to ensure they are on the right path to success.


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