31 Ways to Maximize Your Trade Show Experience

Trade show season has arrived. Here’s how to get the most for your investment of time and money.

31 Ways to Maximize Your Trade Show Experience

There are numerous trade shows each year, several of which are of interest to archery manufacturers, shop owners, and employees. Of course, the ATA Show (www.archerytrade.org) is the one most people think of. On average, it offers about 200,000-250,000 square feet of booth space and around 450-600 exhibitors to see.

And did you hear the big news regarding the 2024 SHOT Show? This massive trade show — about 2,500 companies displaying! — which in the past didn’t have a dedicated space for archery-focused companies, will feature the new Archery Business Pavilion. Click here to learn more about the Archery Business Pavilion at SHOT Show.

Attending these trade shows and placing product orders might sound daunting, and it is. So, here are 31 ways to maximize your trade show experience in 2024.

1. Sign Up in Time

Don’t wait until the last minute. Get signed up for the trade shows well before deadlines arrive. Then, receive and wear your badge upon arrival. Fail to do that, and it will create a lot of extra headaches.

2. Consult the Show Staff

The ATA and SHOT Show staff — and the staff members of other shows — are there to help. Benefit from these resources. That’s what they are there for.

3. Set Pre-Show Goals

Don’t arrive at the trade show without a plan. Brainstorm pre-show goals. Determine how many people you want to meet, products you want to test, orders you want to fill, etc. Meet your pre-show goals.

4. Establish a Strategy

Again, don’t tackle a trade show without a strategy. Consider the challenges, your business needs, necessary ground to cover, and more. Then, begin laying the groundwork to a successful trade show trip.

See all the latest archery products on the show floor.
See all the latest archery products on the show floor.

5. Prepare a Team

If possible, don’t go to a trade show alone. Instead, if budget allows, prepare a team to attend. This should make the effort more rounded, and more productive, than going it alone. The latter will stretch anyone too thin.

6. Prepare Your Pitches

Regardless of whether you are selling or buying, study your pitches before the show. Go into it with a plan in place. Be ready when the deal making begins.

7. Bring Your Sales and Inventory Data

Want to impress those around you? Or merely have some leverage? Bring your sales and inventory data to stay organized and on track.

8. Know How to Negotiate

Negotiating is an artform. Understanding how to accomplish this is an important element of business. Learn to negotiate, and implement a good effort on the show floor.

9. Use the Mobile Apps

Get lost at the show? Download ATA’s and SHOT Show’s maps and find your way much easier. The floor maps offer valuable intel and direction. (Click here for the ATA map, and click here for the SHOT Show map showing the new Archery Business Pavilion space.)

10. Consult Your Customer Base

Before heading off, consult with your customer base. See if they are aware of any new products. Ask if they can help pinpoint key products of interest. Ask them what they’d like to see be stocked.

11. Start the Show Early

Don’t wait until you arrive at the show to get started with it. Take advantage of early events, pre-show benefits, etc. That might even revolve around website and social media efforts. When possible, get ahead of other companies that don’t do these things.

12. Make a Meeting Priority List

Rank the businesses and people you hope to meet with. Set a priority list, and then work down the list. That way, if time is cut short, the most important meetings are taken care of.

13. Schedule Meetings in Advance

It’s folly to schedule all your meetings at the show. Rather, schedule the bulk of these in advance. Naturally, some will get bumped around, completely cancelled, etc. But when possible, schedule meetings in advance.

14. Pre-Load Social Posts, E-Mail Blasts, and Other Marketing Efforts

Want to impress everyone around you? Pre-load social posts, web content, e-mail blasts, and other marketing efforts, well before the show starts. Then, once ready, make it live.

15. Establish Backup Plans

Initial plans don’t always come to fruition. Therefore, it’s crucial to establish a backup plan. Hopefully, you won’t need it. But if you do, you’ll be glad it’s there.

16. Bring Backup Equipment

It’s never fun to arrive at a trade show and have a computer, phone, camera, or other gear go belly up. But it can happen. Have a spare on hand in case it does.

Attend seminars that you might find interesting and informative.
Attend seminars that you might find interesting and informative.

17. Attend Relevant Seminars

There are many seminars at the ATA and SHOT Shows. Some of these will be incredibly relevant to your goals. You can learn valuable information that can grow your business.

18. Benefit from Hospitality Events

Networking is key. Don’t do that, and your business will become stagnant and stale. Of course, certain exhibitors might host affiliate events, too. It’s all about getting out there and creating professional relationships.

19. Capitalize on Available Resources

At each trade show, attendees have access to valuable resources. One of these is the Member Services Area. Also, remember to walk the Featured Products Showcase. The list continues.

20. Boost Brand Visibility

Don’t let your presence go completely unnoticed. When possible, boost your brand’s visibility, but do so in a respectful manner that won’t make people resent you.

21. Build Some Handouts

Business cards, flyers, t-shirts, and other handouts hold marketing value. Use these and more to your advantage when trying to spread word about a business.

22. Share the Experience

When permitted, share photos, videos, and write ups on your social channels. Those who aren’t allowed, or don’t have time, to attend ATA and SHOT will love you for it.

23. Create a Campaign

Building out a digital campaign is a phenomenal idea for those who hope to maximize trade show value.

Take interesting pics that will catch people’s attention on your social media pages.
Take interesting pics that will catch people’s attention on your social media pages.

24. Create Show Floor Content

Continue to take photos and videos while working the show floor. Find unique things to post about, and then tell the story in your own unique way.

25. Collab with the Vendors

Those who learn to collaborate with others tend to fare quite well in life. Therefore, for those who hope to maximize trade show experience, handling collabs is a necessary step.

26. Meet the Press

The press attends most trade shows. Because of this, you can link up with them, and they can help spread the word on your business.

27. Increase Word of Mouth

People talk, and after ATA and SHOT, they talk even more. Because of this, it’s important to boost word-of-mouth business. You can accomplish that at ATA and SHOT, among others.

28. Knock Out Multiple Tasks

Try to accomplish as many things as possible. When it makes sense to, try to knock out multiple tasks in one outing.

29. Discover Solutions to Problems

We all have problems, and most hunters have even more. Therefore, dedicate time to yourself, and conversation with others, on problems that need solutions.

30. Follow Up with Contacts and Leads

Don’t leave your newly established contacts hanging. Once everyone is back home and settled in, it’s important to follow up with key contacts.

31. Pace Yourself

Eat good, nutritious food. Drink plenty of water. Take some breaks. Split duties and take shifts. Ultimately, just pace yourself.

2024 ATA Show Hours

  • Thursday, January 11: 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. 
  • Friday, January 12: 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, January 13: 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Location: America’s Center, St. Louis, Missouri

2024 SHOT Show Hours 

  • Tuesday, January 23: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, January 24: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, January 25: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Friday, January 26: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Location: Archery Business Pavilion, Caesars Forum, Las Vegas, Nevada


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