How To Choose A Trade Show

How to choose a trade show

Even in the current age of digital marketing, trade shows and events haven’t lost their touch. They still allow both B2B and B2C companies to meaningfully engage their audiences in direct, face-to-face interactions.

An effective trade show exhibit can still deliver a comparable or even stronger impact than a digital campaign. However, this success depends on the trade show choice, so learning how to choose a trade show is crucial for success.

How To Choose A Trade Show In Four Easy Steps

Choosing a trade show, especially if you have too many options available, can be tricky. However, taking the right steps can streamline the process.

Step – 1: Set Your Criteria

When choosing a trade show, event, or show exhibit, ask yourself why you are doing this in the first place. What do you aim to achieve – more sales, better brand awareness, product launch, educating your target audience, establishing a stronger presence in the industry, etc. You also need to consider trade-show-specific factors like the audience, costs, proximity to your business/target market, etc.

Once you have a clear goal in your mind, you can set your criteria for the trade show and can evaluate your choices for the relevant factors.

Step – 2: Shortlist Possible Choices

You can short-list the right trade shows by either eliminating the obviously wrong choices or identifying the trade shows that meet most or all of your criteria. Either approach (or a combination of two) can help you narrow down your options for conducting more in-depth research.

Step – 3: Research

Now that you have a manageable number of trade shows to work with (that already meet your criteria), you can identify the ones that can help you create the maximum impact. A more targeted trade show with smaller attendance numbers may generate more leads for you than a diverse event that sees a lot of foot traffic.

A trade show that attracts newer players in the industry may be a better place to showcase your cutting-edge products than a more traditional trade show. You can also evaluate them on the basis of potential ROI if your goals are direct sales.

Step – 4: Attend The Trade Show (If Possible)

Once you’ve narrowed your choices down even further after the research, try attending the trade shows you’ve chosen (if possible). You can get more insights by evaluating them in a real-world setting and will be able to see potential red flags like bad management or too many audience blind spots. If you have a clear understanding of what you can and can’t compromise on, this will help you choose the best possible trade show for your needs.

How To Choose The Right Trade Show

Choosing a trade show for your company is easy. However, choosing the right trade show can be challenging. If you aim to create the maximum possible impact, you have to go beyond the four steps stated above and answer the following questions.

How Do I Decide Which Trade Shows Will Have The Most Value?

The trade shows that offer the best match to your criteria and help you meet most or all of your goals for setting up a booth while offering an optimal ROI will have the most value. And it’s different for different businesses. You can start by assessing the potential attendees of the trade show to gauge how much of them will match your target audience persona. Then based on the reputation and history of the trade show, the presence of your competitors, your location in the trade show, and secondary marketing avenues (like a press conference), you can determine how much “value” a trade show can offer to your business.

How Do I Prepare For My First Trade Show?

You can:

  1. Research and choose the best trade show.
  2. Set realistic goals.
  3. Stay within your budget.
  4. Choose an optimal location and make sure the design of the booth is in sync with your message and brand identity.
  5. Rigorously prepare your team for the products/promotional material. Make sure your messaging is consistent.
  6. Set up well in advance and make sure ample marketing material/samples are at hand.
  7. Create a flexible plan and leave room for changes that you may have to make from the information you glean from your competitors.

What Should I Hand Out At Trade Shows?

It depends on the kind of business you have. B2C businesses that can afford to give away some promotional products get a lot of attention at trade shows. But that’s not a financially feasible option for B2B businesses with expensive products or service-oriented businesses.

Promotional materials and business cards are commonly handed out at trade shows but in an era where businesses need to project an eco-friendly image, printed promotional material might not be well-received, especially by a younger audience. They may prefer a digital copy of the material instead.

Promotional items like T-shirts, disposable cups, water bottles, etc., might be well received, but again, it depends on your audience and the budget.

Why The Choice of Trade Shows Matters

Your trade show choice greatly influences your success, whether it’s a promotional event or a product launch. The right trade show with a relevant, motivated audience, adequate partners, secondary marketing options, and a prominent placement can help you connect with your audience in a meaningful way.

In contrast, if you make the wrong choice regarding the trade show, where the audience is not primed for your business promotion, or you stand out due to your irrelevance from other booths (among other things), you might not be able to make an impact on your target audience, even if you have the perfect booth design and compelling marketing material. 

Things To Consider When Choosing A Trade Show Or Event

Here are some factors that can help you pick the right trade show:

History – Trade shows with strong histories tend to attract industry leaders and a decent number of attendees.

Reputation – A trade show with a good reputation can help your image simply by association.

Audience – The right audience, even in relatively small numbers, is better than a large audience that doesn’t include your target personas.

Exhibit Space – The space you can get within a trade show can determine how much of the footfall flows towards your booth.

Management – Bad trade show/event management can prevent you from realizing your vision and establishing a compelling presence.

Cost – If the best possible trade show match is financially infeasible due to its location, expensive setup, traveling expenses (both yours and attendees), accommodation, etc., a less ideal match might offer better ROI.

Timing – The timing of the event/trade show should not clash with another that might attract a significant portion of your target audience away from yours.

Match – Even if a trade show is fundamentally weak compared to its peers, but it’s a good match based on your marketing goals and audience, it might be worth attending.

Conclusion

Learning how to choose a trade show and its importance can help you make financially smarter and more impactful marketing decisions. The key is to have a clear vision of your goals and conduct thorough research to choose the right trade show with the appropriate audience. Add a compelling booth design to that, and you have the recipe for a successful trade show. 

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