Your company has made the important decision to appear at a trade show as part of its marketing program. You now need to create a game plan that helps you select your appropriate trade shows. You know that exhibiting at the right events can bring successful leads and sales, while the wrong trade shows can waste your company’s time, money, and energy. It’s essential to make the right decision, but how do you start?
The following are nine steps to guide you in the trade show selection process:
1. Work with a trade show planning team or key personnel to decide who your target market is and what your objectives are.
2. Identify the trade shows that appeal to your market and offer the greatest exposure for your message. Research the target market and your competitors to determine which events they frequently attend.
3. Time your trade show exhibit appearance, so you meet prospects at the beginning of their buying cycle, not after purchasing decisions have been made.
4. Do your homework. Double-check tradeshow management statistics to confirm participant demographics. Obtain audited information, if available. Talk to former trade show exhibitors and attendees about their booth experience.
5. Visit the trade shows you are considering attending. Evaluate educational seminars and supporting events for other opportunities for appearances by your company personnel.
6. Consider the location of the trade show. Since 40% to 60% of trade show attendees usually live within a 200-mile radius of the show, you may want to match your company’s distribution area and target market with the geographic source of tradeshow attendees.
7. Evaluate the timing of the trade show. Avoid conflicts with events or business activities that may draw your target audience away from the event; for example, Super Bowl Sunday, corporate annual meetings, holidays, etc.).
8. Be wary of first-time trade shows. Even though a heavily promoted first-time event may sound like a winner, without a proven history it may be a risk for your company’s initial trade show appearance.
9. Pick your trade show booth space wisely. Get familiar with the floor plan of the exhibit space. Consider how close you want to be to:
• Industry leaders
• Main attractions
• Food stations
• Seminar sites.
• Low ceilings
• Obstructing columns
• Dead-end aisles
• Loading docks
• Freight doors
• Dark spaces
• Ceiling water pipes