Trade Fair Marketing: How to Prepare for China Expos?

Spring is trade fair season in China. As usual, these events will see hundreds of exhibitors and attendees. We recently attended Shenzhen Trade Fair and it was a great opportunity for us to get intel on the newest trends in the promotional product industry. We also spotted cool trade fair marketing ideas, giveaways, and strategies, so be sure to check out our upcoming blogs!

With so many things to check out, booths to visit, and key players to connect with, it is going to be a very tiring event, especially for newbies. And so we would like to share with you some tips on how to prepare for a trade fair visit.

This is a rough guide on how to plan, connect, and make the most of every trade fair you are going to visit.

Trade Fair Marketing

Trade Fair Marketing


Before the Trade Show

Before attending a trade fair, make sure that you are fully equipped. And when we say fully equipped, we mean, gear up to take down notes, walk for hours, and take lots of pictures. You should also do your homework. Find out how long the fair is going to run for, who will be attending, and seminars they will be holding. Most importantly, you have to have a special trade show bag that contains essential trade show items. Here are some of the things you should have in your bags.

  • Name cards – Be ready to get familiar with potential business partners. Have a name card handy to exchange contact info with future clients and business partners. Make sure to have all the important company information on your business card- contact info, website, and address.


  • Pen and Small notebook for notes – have a handy notebook where you can jot down important info and details that are not otherwise stated in the suppliers’ business cards or catalogues. 

promotional notebook with logo


  • Tote bag or small trolley for catalogues and samples – Some suppliers will give you samples and you don’t want to walk around carrying those items in your arms, do you? This is why it pays to be prepared. Be sure to bring a trolley or a tote bag where you can keep the sample items while you walk around. Take advantage of the free branded shopping bags being offered by some of the exhibitors. If they don’t have any then be sure to bring one branded with your company name, this way, you can also promote your brand.
Trade Show Promotional Gifts-Shopping Tote Bag

Trade Show Promotional Gifts-Shopping Tote Bag


  • Make sure to have enough memory on your phone or camera – Take pictures of interesting items that will catch your eyes. With so many things to see, you want to make sure that every interesting product and potential partner is properly documented. You want to have a compilation of the best options for future reference.


  • Get comfy shoes – Trade shows in China, especially Canton Fair, are no joke! They are usually held at large arenas to accommodate a large number of booths and exhibitors. To make the most out of your visit, you need to make sure that your shoes are comfortable and breathable, so you can walk around with ease.


  • Bring a Change of Clothes – Be prepared for the ever-changing weather. One minute it is sunshiny outside, the next minute it is raining. Moreover, you want to walk around feeling comfortable all day.


  • Bring anti-COVID items – Always bring a hand sanitizer or a touch tool to keep your hands germ-free. We also suggest you bring a spare face mask. While reusable ones are eco-friendly, you might not be able to wash them when you get back to your hotel. Enjoy the trade show but also make sure to protect yourself from air-borne diseases by wearing a face mask and keeping a spare you can use for the next day. Keep your spare face masks in a custom face mask pouch to keep them clean and hygienic.
5 reasons why this Custom Face Mask Pouch will help you boost your brand awareness

5 reasons why this Custom Face Mask Pouch will help you boost your brand awareness


Aside from the stuff you need to get ready for the “battle,” it is also important to check the current projects your team is working on. This will give you an idea of how to better manage your resources (camera memory and time). You will want to prioritize the booths or factories that can potentially help in your current projects.

Now that you have all you need for the trade show, how do you manage your time and make the most of your visit?

Trade Fair Marketing

Trade Fair Marketing


During the Trade Show

Visiting Trade Shows in China – Managing Your Time

If you have been to a trade show in China you will notice that the spaces are so huge, it is virtually impossible for you to visit all the stalls in one day. So what better way to maximize your time?

  • Be Strategic: Get a map of the trade show floor and see which booths you want to visit first. We suggest identifying the areas that interest you most. Consider the current project you are working on. Where would potential business partners be? List down the important stalls you want to check out first and start from there.


  • Plan Ahead: Now that you have identified the places that you want to visit first, it is now time to divide areas between your team and spread them between the days of your stay. This way, you can cover more ground. While on the ground, take note of the booths that you have not visited yet so you can get back to them the next day.


  • Set Goals: When you visit a trade show, you want to make sure to check out new suppliers, new products and trends, and current suppliers’ booths. Most important of all, take high-quality photos that you can use for your SMM (social media marketing) and future product and factory references.


Now that you have a strategy when you go to the “battlefield,” what are the key factors to consider when checking out a new supplier?

Here are some tips for connecting with new suppliers and business partners:

  • Check if they are audited suppliers. Are they SEDEX, SMETA, Coca-Cola, or Disney audited? Do the products have markings that show they passed quality control inspections and are compliant with international quality standards.
Factory Audits in China - Sedex 4 Pillar Review and Explanation

Factory Audits in China – Sedex 4 Pillar Review and Explanation


  • Find Suppliers that offer lower MOQ – Keep your eyes peeled for companies that offer lower MOQ in China. You want to connect with them for future projects. Keep a list of potential suppliers and do some research on those companies.


  • Connect with Past and Current Suppliers– Trade fairs are a great way to connect with new suppliers but this is also the perfect opportunity to build stronger ties with past and current business partners. See if they are attending the trade show and make time to meet with them.


After the Trade Show

So you have taken great photos. You have exchanged contact information with industry peers and possible clients and suppliers. What now? What do I do with this information?

If you are a newbie, sorting out these ideas can be a bit overwhelming. At ODM, we make sure to go through our lists of suppliers and sort out the photos we took from the trade show. Upload the photos to your computer and identify the industries or factories they belong to.

In our previous blog, Trade Shows: 5 Keys to Success, we explained the importance of having a CRM system to establish a more comprehensive and systematic data assessment. You can put the info in an excel sheet to organize the factory details, contact info, and MOQ.

We also suggest uploading your photos to Dropbox, Flickr, or other photo storage sites. Here, at ODM, we use photos of interesting products for blogs and social media.


How Can ODM Help with Your Trade Fair Marketing?

ODM is a product sourcing agency in China with offices in Vietnam and Hong Kong. If you want to boost your trade fair marketing through effective and high-quality promotional products then, feel free to contact us.

Would you need a branded lanyard? A promotional T-shirt? Would your company need SWAG bags for your attendees? We can do them for you!

Let’s create something meaningful today. Contact us!

Keen for more interesting trade fair marketing ideas? Check these blogs out.


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