5 Tips on Choosing the Right Trade Show – Effective Planning

Finding the Best Tradeshow FitAccording to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, closing a lead generated from a trade show costs 62% less than a
field-originated lead.

So you’ve got to get in gear for the next trade show opportunity, right?  Hold the phone.

Yes, trade shows, conventions, other exhibitions give you a unique opportunity to generate new leads, find new suppliers, check out what the competition is doing, network and other great advantages you wouldn’t get elsewhere.  But, if you want to effectively accomplish all these things without spinning your wheels, you must plan carefully.

Tradeshow planning means choosing the show with the best ‘fit’ for your organization, setting clear objectives and goals, creating an effective trade show booth, with the right promotional giveaways, and having the change to promote your presence, through social media, e-mail marketing, networking, the list of marketing channels goes on.  How do you get this done before the show, with all of the planning that goes into your trade show booth and presence AT the show?  Here are a few tips to get you started with effective tradeshow planning.

Select a show with the ‘best fit’
There are too many trade shows for you to be at and stay within your marketing budget.  Literally, there are thousands.  Start at one.  Pick the show that you think will reap you the greatest reward for your investment.  Just start with one, and then grow from there.

How should you tackle the daunting task of picking a show?  Select one that fits your product or service.  With thousands of trade shows held annually, picking the one that will net you the greatest benefit for your investment of time and money can be daunting.

A great resource to find out about shows is TSNN, which has a global tradeshow search.  You can also check out your particular industry’s trade association, which might be a sponsor.

Don’t just go BIG.
Bigger isn’t always better.  Especially if that means that you are going to be the little fish in the big pond.  And if you get to the show and the mass of people who are there aren’t even your prospective customers for your product or service, you are wasting not only your time, but your money.

If it is possible, look at the previous years’ statistics of the show to help you decide whether your customer profile fits the attendees who go to the tradeshow.

Check out internet search (yes, we Google, do you?).
Look for anything you can find about the show.  Sometimes, even an image will come up that can tell you a lot about the demographics and the energy at the show.  We did a search for a craft show that one of our clients exhibits at, and because this audience is so social, we found a blogger that produced video within our client’s tradeshow booth wall and was tweeting live from the show.  We never would have found out about this valuable content without a quick, simple and FREE Google search for the tradeshow.

Attend the show in advance.
There is no better way to evaluate a product than trying it on for size.  Seeing the show from the viewpoint of your potential booth attendees will give you a good idea if this show is a good fit for you.  Is the audience made up of people who you think would buy your product or service?  Does the show have good energy?  Are people alert and walking the show floor?  Talk to people at the tradeshow and keep your eyes and ears open.  Keep a notepad so you don’t forget anything you might have seen.

And if you’re a technology lover like we are, we highly recommend Evernote for your notetaking.  You’ve just got to see it in action to believe it.

Location, location, location.
So you think you’ve found a tradeshow that is a great fit, but have you considered if the tradeshow is in the right geographic location to attract the customers you want?  Do you do business on a local, regional, national or global scale?  These are important to consider if you are selecting a tradeshow, because if you are in the wrong spot, the people you are trying to attract might not be a good fit, after all.

Set Clear Goals.
Consider what your purpose is at a tradeshow – why do you have to be there?  To make sure you get the most out of the money, time and energy that you invest in exhibiting at a tradeshow, set goals that you can measure.  Think of everything you do prior to, during and after the show to evaluate whether being there actually contributes towards your reaching these goals.

So what’s it gonna be?  What’s Your Goal?
OK.  So you are having a bit of trouble coming up with a good reason other than it’s just something you have to do.  You have to be seen at this hot tradeshow.  Here are some reasons for exhibiting at tradeshows.  Pick as many as you like, but be able to quantify them somehow to determine if you’ve reached them.

•  Competition research
•  Lead generation for future sales
•  Writing sales orders
• Building your mailing list and/or e-mail list with qualified names.
• Improve your supply chain list by finding better or cheaper suppliers.
• Be seen by current customers and nurture relationships.
• Get publicity.
• Generate buzz around a new product or service.
• Increase company’s industry visibility.

So now that you are on the right track to selecting the tradeshow with the best ‘fit,  don’t do it alone.   Whatever your goal may be, make sure that you have someone else to take a look with you at what your tradeshow options are.  Chances are, you won’t be exhibiting at the trade show alone, so make sure you involve the people who will be manning your booth and serve as your trade show booth staff.  You will have to make sure there is someone at the booth when you take a break and check out the competition or work the tradeshow floor.  They should understand your goals and have a say in your selection as much as possible.

If you don’t have anyone on staff that could help you in the tradeshow selection process, turn to friends, relatives, and industry peers.  And don’t ever underestimate the power of social media, particularly LinkedIn, and industry forums.  You will have a much better chance of being successful at your next trade show by taking the time you deserve.  So get those tradeshow goals in order and select the right one.  You’ll be a tradeshow hit!

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About ExhibitCraft

ExhibitCraft is an award-winning trade show exhibit design, fabrication and management agency, offering customized trade show exhibit displays built in-house at its Wayne, NJ headquarters. ExhibitCraft also customizes a large selection of modular exhibit display systems, such as tabletop displays, portable trade show exhibits, pop up displays, banner stands, fabric displays, panel systems, truss systems and more.
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