The International Association of Exhibitions and Events estimates that nearly 33,000 trade shows take place each year throughout the United States and internationally, with more planned to be added in the coming years. A growing and valuable resource, having representation at trade shows can offer a number of benefits to your company—the trick is finding the right shows that will add the right value at the right time based on your company’s goals and objectives.
As expert media relations and marketing counselors, we have developed countless trade show plans for a number of our clients, helping them narrow down the number of potential options from hundreds to a select few that deliver the most impact and return on investment.
If you are new to the trade show scene, below are some key factors and best practices to keep in mind to ensure you are getting the most out of your trade show experience.
Define your target audience. To find the trade show that best fits your company’s needs, you first need to define who your target audience is and why. Once you have a clear understanding of the individuals you’d like to get your product or service in front of, take a look at the attendee profile for each prospective trade show on your list. Be sure to look at job titles of those in attendance, as well as what industries they represent. If a trade show isn’t drawing your target audience, it won’t be a worthwhile investment for you.
Consider timing and location. Timing is everything, and so is location. Research other events taking place around the same time as the show and see if they could impact the attendance of your target group. Don’t forget to factor in your distribution or service area—if you only do business in Michigan, attending a trade show in California can be costly from both a financial and business perspective.
Identify what the show offers. Most trade shows offer a variety of supporting events and education seminars/panels. Determine what the organizers have planned for the coming year, or take a look at previous seminar sessions, to evaluate if you will be able to walk away with useful information that you can implement in your business practices.
Test the waters. It’s okay to keep tabs on the events your competitors attend, but don’t fall prey to simply being a follower. Instead, create your own plan—swap out and add new events to the mix. Find an untapped industry or trade show that would benefit from your services, and make your presence known. It’s easier to stand out in a sea of one than a sea of many.
What are some factors you like to consider before registering for a trade show?