Selecting the Right Trade Show

Trade shows can be effective ways to increase your brand recognition, create new customers, launch products and services and help grow your business. What determines your success in all these areas at a trade show is making sure you are attending the right show that puts you in position to succeed. Here are a few things that will help you select the right trade show.

Cost: There are a lot of things to consider under the ‘cost’ umbrella when selecting a trade show to exhibit at.

  • Reserving a space
  • Travel/lodging expenses
  • Size and
  • Displays, banners and materials
  • Giveaway and promotional items

If all of these above costs end up being greater than the amount of leads or sales you pick up while at a trade show, then you’re not like to receive a return on your investment. You may not make back in sales what you paid to exhibit at a certain show, but you must decide if the expenses are worth it to gain whatever number of additional sales you received directly by attending that trade show.

Target audience: When choosing a trade show to exhibit at, ask yourself the show is going to attract enough attendees in your target audience. The more attendees that may be likely to be interested in your company/product/services that you can get your brand in front of at one show, the better success you might have. There are few ways to gauge what kind of audience will be at a show and if it fits your criteria.

  • Look up history of the show and what’s involved
  • Find out if your direct competitors are attending or have
  • Determine if any consumers or industry buyers are attending
  • Check industry association websites
  • See how the event is marketed and who it’s marketed towards

Determine show types/schedules: When checking the history of the show, you want to know past itineraries and events.

  • Are there mixers or meet and greet type events? These allow you to meet with prospective buyers away from the booth
  • What opportunities are there for you to be a speaker or do a demonstration?
  • What kind of speakers will be there? Can you learn something from your industry peers?
  • What other events are involved at this show that’s going to help you reach your intended audience and connect with them?

Location, location, location: There are two location types to consider in selecting a trade show. What type of show is it – consumer or industry/trade specific shows, where it’s being held and what kind of spots can you secure.

  • If this is show is open to consumers, consider your company and the demographics of your customers. If the show is far away for you, does your business have the reach to sell in that area?
  • The longer you have to go to get to a show, the more travel costs you’re likely to incur which could affect your return on the investment.
  • What locations at the trade show are available? Some locations cost more than others and certain locations on the trade show floor can increase or decrease your number of visitors. Premium spots cost more money.

Talk to those who have attended: The best way to gauge if you should attend a certain trade show and if it’s going to be worth your while is to ask others in your industry about their experiences at specific shows.

  • Check with previous vendors about their experience
  • Ask those in your industry about their success rate
  • Ask peers and other previous exhibits about the type of attendees for that show
  • You can also see if previous exhibitors have any travel or lodging tips to help save you money there

Floor plans: Before booking, looking at the how the spaces on the floor are laid out and idea of what the building is like will be important for many reasons.

  • Size and space of your booth area determines how many banners and displays you can bring
  • Different booth sizes and locations have different costs
  • Lighting at some trade show venues isn’t as good as others or isn’t as good in certain areas. You’ll want to know if you need to bring additional lighting.

Drayage/Shipping: Shipping your trade show displays is always a potentially one of the most costly parts of your budget. It’s something you should have an idea about before fully committing to a trade show.

  • Consider the weight of your displays
  • How far do you have to ship your displays
  • It’s possible during shipping your displays could be damaged. Something you must account for
  • Every trade show and venue has different days to ship and load and different costs for it

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