Tricks of the Trade (Show)

automotive industry trade show

No matter your profession or industry, there is one trait that will help you succeed: preparation.

Automotive industry trade shows are a perfect example of how preparation can pay off.

These shows can provide learning and networking opportunities for dealers. They also provide the chance to see new marketing services and tools in action and meet face-to-face with new vendors and potential marketing partners.

But it's a lot to do in a short amount of time.

Even if you're a trade show pro, planning ahead for the event will help you hit the best sessions, swag, and the all-important after-parties.

Make a Plan

What are your goals for the event? Decide which vendors you would like to visit, and which speaking sessions you can't miss. Once you have your goals identified, you can start to map out your plan of attack.

Be mindful of the length of the conference, and leave enough time to really focus on the important areas. By going in with a plan, you’ll maximize your time spent and avoid getting stuck in a session or conversation at a vendor station that doesn’t offer you much value.

Download the App

Some larger trade shows offer an app to attendees – download it! This will be your secret weapon before, during, and after the event. Most apps will include:

  • Schedule of events
  • Map of booths
  • Speaker sessions/profiles
  • Updates/notifications about show
  • Place to take notes
  • Links to social media

Take advantage of the notes section. Note who you met with, any appointments or meetings you scheduled, and when and who to follow up with after the show.

Dress for Success

Trade shows can be lengthy and exhausting. Be sure to dress appropriately, but also comfortably. The typical dress code will be business casual. You might want to wear your dealership’s logo, and definitely pack your business cards for introductions. Remember, you will be on your feet for the majority of the day – pack sensible shoes.

Have Fun

These events are designed for participants to learn more about their industry while interacting with peers and making valuable connections. There are evening mixers, silly games, and giveaways to help induce a more relaxed, inviting atmosphere. Allow yourself to loosen up whenever you’re not in a session or visiting with a vendor.

It’s important to remember why you came, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy yourself along the way.


Trade shows can be an invaluable experience or a colossal waste – the difference is in how you use the time. There are vendors on hand whose tools, services, and expertise can jumpstart your sales results and marketing efforts, and industry experts whose knowledge will better prepare you for tomorrow’s challenges – and its opportunities.