Finding the right trade show for you

Finding the right trade show for you

Finding A Trade Show That’s Right For You

Trade show overload can be a real hindrance to companies. A lot of time, effort and financial resources are invested in preparation and attendance. Therefore, it makes sense to only attend trade shows that will be productive, beneficial and profitable for your company. So how do you know which shows will provide the best return for your time and financial investment?

First and foremost, it is imperative to quantify your trade show goals and measurable objectives. Objectives must be both meaningful and measurable, such as the following:

  • How many leads or sales do you wish to generate?
  • Do you wish to secure media exposure, industry trend data, or other details?
  • Engage current customers, initiate new contacts, reach future key decision makers?
  • Introduce a new product or service?
  • Obtain feedback from booth visitors?
  • Increase understanding of marketplace conditions?

Be certain to put your objectives in writing, as written statements help you to clarify your planning process. The added benefit of quantifiable objectives is that these provide a benchmark of success against which future trade show participation can be measured and compared. What about a goal of attracting 10% of the total trade show attendees to your booth to demonstrate your new product, or obtaining 100 requests for literature? These goals are real and measurable. Furthermore, these specific goals can provide essential guidelines for staff participating in the design, implementation and post-show evaluation.

Equipped with a list of specific and measurable trade show goals, you can now research the abundance of trade shows. Public libraries and the internet both provide directories and descriptions of upcoming trade shows. Another good idea is to check for regional and national conventions, since many associations hold trade shows simultaneously with conventions.

Once you have identified several trade shows that may support your objectives, it is time to conduct some further research. Ask the event sponsor for a list of past attendees, attendance figures, and demographic information to help determine the number of qualified prospects. You can even speak with former event attendees for an in-depth perspective. Define and research your target audience to learn their industries, titles, geography, motivations, needs and purchase decisions. Remember that your objectives can vary from show to show, since the purpose is to ensure your company’s marketing strategy is in sync with the attendees’ interests.

You can also consider smaller trade shows if you desire more in-depth conversations. Fewer exhibits  mean more time and attention per attendee. Or perhaps you can send a staff member to review a new trade show – if that show has potential to meet your objectives then consider exhibiting the following year. Polling your existing customers to determine what trade shows they attend is an excellent idea. You can even research where your competitors routinely exhibit. By the way, how well do you perform at your existing trade shows? If an existing show is no longer attracting qualified purchasers, and fails to meet your new trade show objectives, then perhaps it’s time to vacate that show and begin searching for new opportunities.

With clearly-defined and measurable goals, a thorough understanding of your trade show audience, and a careful review of trade show listings, your company can take advantage of opportunistic trade shows. The more time you spend researching and selecting the right trade shows, the greater likelihood of successful results.