how to prepare for a trade show

It’s That Time of Year

The promotional products industry is one of the most active in terms of conferences, with multiple national and regional associations as well as private organizations and suppliers hosting everything from trade shows to seminars and workshops. Tens of thousands of industry professionals, vendors, and more gather across the United States and Canada for a variety of shows focusing on new product innovations, sales and marketing strategy, professional development, and more.

In fact, some of the industry’s biggest shows are just around the corner. The Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) is hosting ASI Orlando in Florida January 4–6, 2020 and ASI Fort Worth in Texas February 3–5, 2020. And of course, Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) is hosting its annual Expo January 12–16, 2020 in Las Vegas, NV. But these are just the beginning. In such an active industry, there’s a conference or industry event happening almost every month throughout the next year.

But with multiple shows coming so quickly, it’s important to ensure that day-to-day operations aren’t impacted. The above shows comprise 11 full days — 88 work hours not spent closing new sales, talking to customers and suppliers, and managing operations. For many distributors, this simply isn’t viable. It’s also why some decide to not attend valuable industry events altogether. 

At iPROMOTEu, we want our Affiliates to make the most of these events — in new opportunities, new contacts, and new education. That’s why we not only pay their registration but also provide a full suite of services that keep their businesses moving while they’re out. Let’s take a look at some of the ways we help affiliates in how to prepare for a trade show.

What You’ll Need Before the Show

Back-Office Support

You already have a promotional products business running at full speed — especially at this time of year. If you’re planning on attending an upcoming show, it’s important that your business keeps moving forward while you’re out. But if you don’t have additional staff, or not enough in-office help, the risk of things slipping through the cracks increases dramatically. Hiring is time-consuming and expensive, and it takes time for people to get up to speed.

To help Affiliates avoid this, both during trade show season and all year long, iPROMOTEu offers dedicated back-office support. This covers the many administrative tasks needed to run your business while you’re out of the office, such as order follow-up, managing invoices and accounts receivable, handling customer/supplier communications, and more. With these necessities covered, you’ll be able to focus without worrying that things aren’t moving back in the office.

Virtual Assistant Program (VAP)

While back-office support takes care of the many administrative tasks that distributors have to tackle on a daily basis, sometimes you just need an extra set of helping hands. It doesn’t always make sense to hire someone full-time or even part-time depending on the need, and as trade show season approaches (and the holidays), you likely don’t have time to even consider it.

Rather than tackling a significant responsibility like hiring when you should be focusing on upcoming shows and closing holiday deals, take advantage of iPROMOTEu’s Virtual Assistant Program (VAP). This highly-lauded program provides you with a dedicated assistant to help you with whatever you need — whether it’s a one-time project or a weekly block of hours for continuous support. Your assistant is an industry-trained and experienced professional who understands the intricacies of promotional products and how to best serve your customers.


When you’re learning how to prepare for a trade show, you also need to be learning how to make your presence impactful for your business. Education and mentorship should be an ongoing part of your professional development, but trade shows present a unique opportunity to meet with prospects, potential partners, and more in a single setting. Time matters at trade shows, and you need to be able to make the most of it.

To help you, iPROMOTEu provides a variety of coaching programs that can help you build your sales and marketing skills as well as develop business development strategies for your business. Whether it’s working with industry sales veteran Cliff Quicksell to put his proven marketing campaigns to work ahead of the show to warm up prospects or connecting with Gary Goodhart and Guy Dupuis, our Directors of Affiliate Sales Development, to build out a more refined sales process, our team has the insights and guidance you need to make this season your best yet.

What You’ll Need After the Show

Marketing Support

Whether you’re exhibiting at the show or just attending to make new connections, you’ll want to hit the ground running upon your return. Whether you’ve met prospective clients, potential recruits to your company, or new vendors, you’ll want to show them the value of working with you. As an iPROMOTEu Affiliate, you’d already have the buying power and leverage of one of the highest-ranked and top-performing promotional products companies in existence, but not everyone is going to know what that means. You’ll need to show them.

In addition to our proven marketing campaigns, our dedicated sales and marketing support specialists can work with you one-on-one to create and execute new marketing campaigns and tactics to reach your audience. Your prospects and partnership opportunities will be expecting to hear from you after the show. Our team will help you craft a campaign with compelling design and messaging so the effort you put forward will be the one that works.

Sales Support Program

Trade shows are great for gaining new insights, ideas, and strategies that you can put to use in your business. But actually implementing them upon return — especially new sales strategies — can be a struggle. If you’re a small distributor or your team already has their hands full, it can be difficult to know where to start, much less actually achieve any results.

The iPROMOTEu sales support program is the answer to this problem. We’ll match you with a trained, experienced sales support specialist who can help you manage your database, conduct prospect outreach, help you break into new accounts and markets, and more. This helps you hit the ground running when you’re back in the office while simultaneously expanding your overall sales outreach to both new opportunities and existing accounts.

Special Requests & Rush Ordering

When you return from a trade show, you’ll likely be faced with two scenarios. The first is that you might need to put an order through quickly for a customer that went unnoticed or that you just weren’t able to get to. The second is that you want to make an impression with a new customer. Both relationships and opportunities are critical to your business, so it’s important to act quickly. But which comes first? Which is more important. The answer: both.

Don’t sweat — iPROMOTEu offers rush and special ordering support to help you get your order through in time and see it delivered on time. Your production coordinator will be available to you by phone or email to keep you apprised. You and your customer will never be in the dark, and that pivotal order will be processed, produced, and delivered just as planned.

Ready For Trade Show Season Success?

If you’ve been wondering how to prepare for a trade show, iPROMOTEu is here to help. Whether you’re one of our many happy Affiliates or are considering a new home for your promotional products business, we’ll help you build the framework for a successful trade show season while supporting your business as you focus on sales.

Let us know how we can help you get trade show-ready.