How To Select The Right Trade Show
There are literally thousands of trade shows going on at any time. So selecting the right shows to attend (whether as an exhibitor or an attendee) is not always obvious.
So are some suggestions as to how to narrow the list...
- Ask your customers and prospects which trade shows they plan to attend next year
- Ask your sales force – this is most likely the best source of input
- Business Partners, distributors and resellers
- Trade shows you exhibited at in the past
- Competitors – you may well find that they list their events calendar on their website
- Trade Show Directories
- Industry associations
- Trade publications
The next step then is to work out the best fit for your needs, such as buyer type, level of authority, industry etc. and the best suited trade shows will emerge from this process.
As a general rule, the greatest success accessing your prospects is if you exhibit at the trade show that caters to your customers’ industries rather than your own.
Here are two examples:
- Say you’re a manufacturer of welding equipment and you’ve decided that you want to target the shipping industry. You might be better off exhibiting at a marine trade show, where a great many ship manufacturers hang out rather than at a general manufacturing exhibition.
- You’re a photographer specialising in wedding and family portrait photography. You may want to consider Baby and Bridal exhibitions rather than the National photographer’s expo.
The upshot is, go where your customers and prospects hang out rather than where your competition and peers expose their products and services. You will stand out from the crowd rather than being one of many.
Once you have determined your short list, do your due diligence! Find out as much as you can about the show BEFORE you commit and spend money.
The list below will help you developing a sense of the quality of the trade show and whether it’s likely to give you the return on investment you want:
- Visit the trade show as a visitor before you exhibit. (Ask for a free entry if necessary. Show managers will invite you if you’re planning to exhibit.)
- Start to get a feel for the vibe in the halls, the standards of the sessions and the visitor profiles.
- Talk to previous exhibitors – have show management provide you with a list of references, or visit the website and find last years exhibitors list and contact some of them
- Call your competitors and ask them for some feedback
- Have your sales people sound out their networks of clients and competitors including channel partners for their experiences and feedback
- Conduct a credit check on the show management company
- Make sure you keep an eye on trend cycles, just like any other product or service, trade shows do have a life cycle And if you’re looking for trade shows - here’s one of the most useful links I have come across:
This site lists Trade shows held all over the world. You can segment by country, industry, date, organiser and even venue. I strongly suggest you take the time to look through it and keep this link on file for future reference.