It’s a Match: Finding the Right Trade Show for Your Business

Hand Placing the final piece in a puzzle

Exhibiting at trade shows can be your organization’s most significant marketing investment and one of its most lucrative branding, networking, and sales strategies. Trade shows put you face to face with your customer, letting you solidify relationships, connect with potential customers, establish your presence and position in your market segment, and forge alliances with others in your industry.
The first, and perhaps most important step, to achieving maximum trade show ROI is to evaluate which trade shows are best aligned with your organization’s particular marketing objectives. It’s crucial to research and walk the trade show as an attendee would. This research should include:

  1. Attendee Quality. Assess the quality of the attendees and their reasons for attending. Review the marketing materials and communications sent to attendees and show speakers if applicable. What companies are sponsoring the event and where is it located?
  2. Competitors. Check out what your competitors are doing and how they’re preparing for the show. Most shows have social media accounts and sites where you can view last year’s photos, view exhibitors, sponsors, speakers, etc. On the other hand, if none of your direct competitors are planning on exhibiting or attending, that could be a clue that it’s not the best fit for you.
  3. Marketing Objectives. Consider whether the show will meet your specific marketing and/or sales objectives. For example, if your objective is to introduce a new product, a show that has a new product showcase or pavilion can add significant value.
  4. Event Coverage. Evaluate the media coverage of the event. Will any portion of the event be televised or streamed online, shared via social media, taped, etc.? Help your marketing team by hopping on the coattails of a well-orchestrated and advertised show.
  5. Timing is Everything. If your business is subject to seasonal sales cycles, choose trade shows that will put your products and services in front of your customers at the optimum time. Take into account how the trade show fits into your buyer’s journey and at what point in the sales cycle they are.

Once you’ve sized-up whether the show will meet your organization’s objectives, consider the costs and logistics of exhibiting, which all contribute to your trade show ROI. Expenses include:

  • Staffing and Travel. Determine the costs of staffing your booth, including pre-show training, travel, hotel, and per diem costs. Local shows cost less and hotel and travel costs vary depending upon the show size and location.
  • Show Services. Expenses such as electricity, carpet, cleaning, lead capturing, etc., vary depending upon the trade show and venue. Review the specific show’s information to determine a basic budget based on what they provide and a la carte expenses (lead retrieval, etc.).
  • Shipping and Handling. Shipping and drayage expenses can be tricky to determine. There are tips and tricks to manage these expenses, read our blog on drayage here.

Trade shows can be extremely beneficial to a business and should be considered in your marketing plans. If you’d like more information on how to have the best trade show booth, or tips on how to have a great show, all you have to do is contact us today!


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