Offline Marketing

How To Successfully Exhibit At A Trade Show in Japan

Trade shows are a valuable opportunity for companies to gain recognition for their products and to acquire potential leads, and they remain an extremely important part of BtoB marketing in Japan. However, in many cases, the lack of advance planning and post-trade shows follow-up systems prevents companies from getting the results they need for their expenses.

In this article, we summarize the key points of trade shows marketing in Japan, how to choose which trade shows to exhibit at, and how to follow up after the trade show. We hope that it will serve as a reference for companies and marketers who are considering exhibiting at trade shows in Japan.

STEP 1: Clarify target personas

As is true for all marketing initiatives, the most important point is to clarify “to whom and what does your company appeal?” It is difficult to achieve success in marketing if this point is unclear, and in some cases, participating in an trade show may not be the best way to reach your potential customers. The first step is to rethink who your company’s potential customers are in Japan, and whether participating in a trade show in Japan is the right way to reach them.

STEP 2: Search and Select Trade Shows to Exhibit at

How to find an trade show

JETRO (The Japan External Trade Organization) website helps you to search for trade shows in Japan. Information on exhibited products and the number of past visitors is also available, and you can narrow your search by industry, area, and other criteria. Links to exhibition websites are also provided, so it is efficient to first search JETRO to make a list, and then check the details on each trade show’s website.

How to Select a Trade Show

Basically, you can select a trade show by the product categories and industries to which your products belong. But you can also select trade shows that bring visitors/exhibitors from your target industries (e.g., exhibiting your company’s design and manufacturing solutions at a manufacturing-related trade show).

In any case, it is important to first have a concrete image of the potential customers of your products, and then select trade shows where you are most likely to have contact with such customers.

STEP 3: Exhibit Planning

Once you have selected a trade show to exhibit at, the next step is to plan your exhibition.
The most important question here is “why are you exhibiting at the trade show?”. This point needs to be clarified and shared by all involved parties.

The purposes of participating in trade shows may include “to increase awareness of your products in Japan,” “to obtain new leads customer in Japan,” “to discover new business opportunities in Japan,” etc. It is important to have a sense of purpose that is in line with your company’s current situation and medium-to-long-term policies.

It is also necessary to determine in advance what constitutes achievement of the purpose you clarified and shared, and the factors that will serve as indicators of that achievement. The following is a sample of purpose and indicators.

Case Ⅰ: Increase awareness of your products

If the purpose of the exhibition is to increase the recognition of your products in Japan, it is important to have as many visitors as possible recognize your products.

A typical indicator for this purpose is the number of business cards acquired. Ideally, the number of booth visitors should be counted if possible, but since this requires a lot of time and effort, it is often replaced by the number of business cards acquired or brochures distributed as an indicator.

Case Ⅱ: Acquire new lead customers

If the purpose of the exhibition is to acquire new lead customers in Japan, the indicator is simply the number of business cards acquired. Since it is important to be able to follow up after the trade show, the simple number of booth visitors or the number of brochure distribution will not be used as an indicator.

Case Ⅲ: Discover new business opportunities

In this case, it is difficult to set a measurement standard for the acquisition of business opportunities, but in order to obtain more concrete feedback, it is necessary to determine in advance what is considered to be an acquisition of business opportunities.

For example, you can count the number of customers who answered that they plan to introduce the product within a certain period of time by taking questionnaires from visitors, or count the number of customers who checked a certain issue in the questionnaires.

Another method is to set up a check box for “would like to have a business meeting (or quote) after the trade show”. However, since there are few cases where that much progress is made at a trade show, it is advisable to set a benchmark that is broad enough to allow for a wide range of responses.

STEP 4: Management on the day of the trade show

In order to clear the set indicators and achieve the purpose, you will work in accordance with the operation manual that has been prepared in advance.

In particular, the following points will have a significant impact on reaching the indicators and smooth follow-up after the trade show, so it is necessary to ensure thorough awareness of these points internally.

  • Booth layout, staffing, and expected booth flow lines
  • Operations manuals for each role (explainer, receptionist, visitor attraction)
  • Possible questions and answers (role-playing required in advance)
  • Questionnaire and business meeting sheet content and how to fill out and submit
  • Sharing of follow-up system after trade show

It is important for the entire company to understand the process of following up with acquired lead customers after the trade show to take them to next step.

STEP 5: Follow-up with acquired lead customers

It is necessary to have a system in place in advance for follow-up work after the trade show.

For example,

  • Confirm the schedule and the person in charge of e-mailing and calling lead customers
  • Set up rules for ranking lead customers and assign a person in charge of follow-up for each rank
  • Setting up leads to business meetings (e.g., CTA for web interview schedule)
  • Establishment of a system for sharing follow-up results
  • Set a date to share feedback on the entire trade show within the company

While taking into account the company’s human resources, it is necessary to follow up as closely as possible to ensure that lead customers are not left out and that customers who should be focused on are taken care of.


The general flow of exhibit planning, operation of trade show day, and follow-up after the show should not differ greatly between Japan and other countries. What makes the difference in any market is “to clarify the target persona”, “to share a thorough understanding of the purpose of the trade show”, and “to establish a system for prompt follow-up after the trade show”.

We provide one-stop support for trade show participation in Japan, including pre-show selection, exhibition planning, operation of trade show day, follow-up system operations, feedback on the show itself, and improvement strategies for the next show. If you have any requests for consulting or hands-on support for your exhibiting trade shows in Japan, please feel free to contact us.


Lastly, we have listed below a representative trade show held in Japan. We hope this will be helpful to those who are considering them.