Choosing the right trade show for your business provides an opportunity to generate leads, nurture existing relationships, find suppliers, observe the competition, network, and get publicity. If you choose your trade shows correctly, you can benefit your business in a shorter time than meeting each person or business individually. In fact, the Center for Exhibit Industry Research (CEIR) reports that it costs 62% LESS to close a lead generated from a trade show than one generated from your office.
Your efforts mean the cost of exhibiting at trade shows can pay for itself if you plan correctly.
- Set clear marketing and trade show goals
- Create a trade show booth to WOW the competition
- Promote where you will be via e-newsletters and social media
Planning ahead is key to your trade show success. Here are some ways to get ahead of the competition and establish your business as a leader in the trade show industry:
Map Out Your Success. With more than 10,000 trade shows held annually in the United States alone, finding the trade shows for your business can be an overwhelming task. Map out your success by choosing trade shows that fit your business or industry using our Global Event Calendar.
- Choose by city, state, show name, industry, or date thus narrowing the list from thousands to one hundred or even a few dozen.
- Use other resources such as local chambers of commerce, convention bureaus, and social media to identify events where you may find your target market.
- Compare costs of exhibiting at each trade show. Include the price for the booth space as well as associated travel costs.
- Look for opportunities to be an event speaker or presenter where you can reach a targeted audience to showcase your expertise. Oftentimes event planners will “pay” speakers by giving them free or discounted booth space.
Ask for referrals. Just as you as a friend for a recommendation for a movie, you can ask colleagues, customers, and competitors which trade shows they are attending. This will help guide where you want to exhibit your business. Ask them questions such as:
- What do you like and dislike most about this event?
- Would you be a vendor at this event in the future? Why or why not?
- Do you think you got value for the money? Why or why not?
Gaining an understanding from the trenches, people who have attended and visited events you are considering, is an invaluable part of your research process. You could weed out some of the trade shows that look good from a distance but aren’t going to help you build your business.
Sometimes it’s just about brand recognition. A colleague came to me with a business problem. She has been exhibiting at an annual local event targeted at small business owners – her ideal client. She is wondering if she should exhibit again this year even though she hasn’t gotten a return on her investment. When I asked why she would even consider a loss-leader, she said that it’s for brand recognition. People in the community recognize her brand and expect that she will be at this local event.
It isn’t very often that I would recommend exhibiting at an event that has a history of not generating business but this was different. While there isn’t a direct monetary benefit to participating, my friend is getting the name of her company out to more people. More than likely, the benefit of participating is indirect. She’s building brand recognition and trust with prospective clients. She may get them to sign up for her e-newsletter or attend one of her workshops. THEN they may become customers. The sales cycle is a little longer but she’s building trust and that’s ALWAYS good for your brand!
Review your research. Take time with your team to evaluate the information you have found in your research.
- Are the trade shows on your “yes” list the right size for your business? You don’t want to be a small player at a huge, big brand event. You’d rather be a big player at a smaller event.
- Are the events attracting your target client? You don’t want to exhibit at a trade show and not be able to meet as many prospective clients as possible.
Ultimately, you might be ready to take your brand to the next level. You might choose an event or two where you ARE the small player just to see what the competition is doing. You never know what could happen. You might meet your next big client. Or you might decide attending is better than exhibiting, at least for this year.
We recommend planning and proceeding with caution and research as you’re choosing the right trade show for your business. There’s nothing worse than losing money on an event that you were banking on for success. The team at EXHIB-IT! is here to help you create the best trade show booth for your unique business. Contact us today to get started.