Getting ready for international tradeshows

international tradeshow, translation, localisation

For companies looking to go global, now is the time to turn your mind to the autumn months and particularly October onwards when many of the international tradeshows are held. If your organisation is planning to have a stand at a tradeshow, there are lots of jobs to be done between now and the big day.

Localising event display stands

Once you have details of where your business will be located and floor plans of the exhibition space, it’s time to design your exhibition stand and consider what collateral you need. You may already have some of these assets such as display stands, banners and lightboxes, but it’s a good idea to review these and ensure they’re aligned with your objectives for the event, and especially your target customer.

If the event is focused on one market, or you want to attract customers from a specific country, you should consider localising your event stand for that market. Any core messages or straplines that explain what your company does can be translated on banners or backdrops so that exhibition visitors instantly understand who you are. Welcome messages are a good thing to translate, showing customers in your target market that you are keen to engage with them.

Where possible audio visual content, such as a company video screened on an AV stand, should be subtitled for your target customers. This can be particularly useful if you have limited language skills as it will help provide more detail about your business and facilitate engagement. In parallel it may be a good idea to use the services of an interpreter to communicate with customers from your target market during the event.

Digital content can also be translated and localised. For example many exhibitors at international tradeshows use interactive tablets to help customers learn more about them. Language options can be offered and content translated into the languages you require.

Marketing materials for international tradeshows

Product marketing materials such as brochures, prospectuses, product sheets etc. should be translated and localised for international customers. First, ask your in-market colleagues or local contacts to review your existing marketing materials and feedback whether they are suitable for your target market. There are often subtle differences between communication styles in different markets. By tweaking your marketing content to localise it for that market, it will deliver better results.

Other print materials that may require localisation and translation include business cards. It’s useful to have job titles translated so that people understand exactly what your team do. Contact information may also require localisation. Don’t make assumptions that international customers will know to prefix your company phone number with the correct country code (+44), include your full address and, if you have a market-specific website, make sure its URL is used on your business cards.

Communicating effectively with international customers

Think about how you will communicate with international customers at the event. While you may find that many people speak perfect English it makes a good impression if you have a few key phrases in their language at the ready. Make the effort to learn basic greetings and pleasantries, gem up on business etiquette in the target market, and make sure all your exhibition team have some basic local knowledge.

Your localised marketing materials will be useful for overcoming some language barriers, such as for helping visitors understand a concept or product. However, if you don’t have the relevant language skills within your company to talk on a technical level with customers, it may be worthwhile engaging an interpreter. Always use an interpreter with experience in your sector; they will understand concepts and terminology that can be very industry specific. My colleague James’ blog post on business interpreting at international events provides lots of useful advice on selecting and working with interpreters. Click here for his insights.

Before and after the event

As well as planning your exhibition space and getting materials translated for each target market, you should also think about promotion prior to the event. Let international customers know that your business has a stand and start booking meetings ahead of the tradeshow.

Consider whether a landing page localised for your target market is a good idea. This can include brief details of the event, your business and location of your stand and a booking form should a prospect want to arrange a meeting – of course, translated into the target language.

Social media updates and email marketing campaigns can also be translated in the run up to a tradeshow, letting potential buyers in your target market know that your business is keen to engage with them.

Finally, consider how you will follow up contacts made at the tradeshow. Will you be using email to communicate with leads? In which case do these require translation? Would a phone call be more appropriate, and if so will you need a telephone interpreter to help facilitate this?


As you can see there’s lots to be done and good preparation beforehand will really help your business maximise the opportunities that international tradeshows present. If you require translation and localisation support, please get in touch to chat through your requirements.

You may also find our guide to languages in international business useful. Click on the link below for your free copy.

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