Top Five Ways To Choose The Right Trade Shows

Maybe you’re just starting to expand your marketing efforts into trade shows. Or maybe you’ve had mixed results from some of the shows you’ve traditionally attended, and you’re rethinking your approach. In either case, to successfully market your product or service, you’ve got to go to trade shows. visionary designs hybrid trade show booth with fabric graphics and double sided towers vk-5077_main

The big question, of course, is “Which ones?”

1) Study Your Competitors:

It’s not the most scientific technique for determining whether or not a show may be right for you, but seeing which shows your competitors are exhibiting at gives you a fairly good idea that prospects for your product or service are attending in reasonable numbers.

You’ll also want to study the size of your competitor’s trade show displays, how many staffers they send, and what they do to attract attention (a live presentation, prize drawing, contest, et cetera).

There are two schools of thought here:

1) don’t go much bigger than your competition (therefore, you’re not wasting money being bigger than you have to be) and

2) outsize your competitors, to the point where you take over the show (which helps draw qualified prospects to your trade show booth).

Which approach you take depends on a number of factors: cost of larger trade show displays, projected attendance of those meeting your criteria as prospects, cost of floor space, et cetera).

2) Survey Current Clients:

Your clients go to different shows for different reasons: some go to check out the latest technology in the industry, some are interested in the educational opportunities offered in conjunction with the show, and some see the show as a valuable opportunity for maintaining contact with others in the industry.30x40 trade show rental display with double deck and custom tension fabric graphics 3

When you ask clients which shows they go to,filter their answers through your own reasons for exhibiting:

1) If they respond with “looking for new products,” that won’t be of any benefit to your company unless you have new products to debut at that show.

2) Alternately, if the educational track appeals to them, explore the possibility of having representatives from your company present a seminar.

3) And for those who see the show as a place to catch up with old friends, you might consider offering a coffee bar or some other food service in your booth, with a lounge area for people to congregate and talk business.

3) Walk The Show Floor:

Invest the time and money it takes to travel to some of the shows you’re considering. What does the show look like? Does it feel exciting? Are exhibitors enthusiastic? Would your trade show booth look appropriate on this show floor (are most exhibits about the same size as yours, or noticeably larger or smaller)?

Talk to those exhibitors and ask whether the show is up or down according to the metrics that matter to you (attendance, booth space rental, sponsorship opportunities, and outside costs like hotels and airfares).

4) Investigate Show Management:

You’re putting a lot of money and resources on the line to exhibit at a trade show. It’s only fair for you to know how the show has treated its exhibitors in the past. Do some checking with previous exhibitors, or make some calls to people in your network to find out if show management has had issues with exhibitors, or if show organizers have treated exhibitors well.

If you’re participating in the inaugural event (the first time this show has been held), be prepared for a bumpy road. If there are problems, document the circumstances and your efforts to get them addressed by show management. If something can’t be done on-site, sometimes a remedy can be reached after the show (example: a partial refund or credit toward exhibit space for a future show).

5) Prepare Your Team:

Make an honest assessment of your team’s skills: Are they capable closers? Do they sound convincing when they talk about your product or service? If they don’t have an answer to a prospect’s question, do they know how to find someone who does and pass that prospect along smoothly and effectively? Do they know how to engage passersby and begin a conversation that can lead to a product demo?

If your team has these skills, thank your lucky stars! If not (and that’s most of you reading this), consider booth staff training. Since the process of selling is so much different on the trade show floor than it is in the “real world,” a trainer can help your team understand, then role-play these skills, until they’re second nature.

I could come up with a dozen more points for you to consider (after all, this is what I do for a living!), but these, I think, are the most important, as well as the ones that are most “actionable” by you.

These are within your control, so you don’t have to wait for someone else to prepare a report, do a cost/benefit analysis or compare budgets or the like. You can tackle these points pretty much on your own.

And you should!

After all, it’s the success of you trade show program—the cornerstone of your company’s marketing effort—we’re talking about here. It doesn’t matter how good your sales staff is if you’re at the wrong show!

So try some of these ideas and then get back to me. I’d enjoy hearing what you discovered as a result of your research into these tips. You can reach me at (425)556-9511, or email me at [email protected]

For more, check out how to gather trade show intelligence or check out ways to turn shows into research opportunities.

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