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Selecting Trade Shows For Successful Outcomes

tradeshow selectionThere are so many shows happening every year it is no wonder that so many exhibitors find show selection a difficult task.  It is easy to see why so many exhibitors choose shows because everyone else is doing it or because it is always what has been done.  Given this, clever show research and disciplined show selection can really pay off for savvy exhibitors.

Here are some tips to help you with your clever show research and disciplined show selection moving forward:

Create Show Selection Criteria

Create show selection criteria to find events that will work for you:

Your show selection criteria should revolve around your trade show objectives.

Some criteria you may want to consider

  • Audience Profile
    • Large numbers of visitors or smaller targeted audience
    • Decision Makers or Decision Influencers
    • Local, National or International Market or all three
  • Key industry segment
  • Is it in a key geographical location?
  • Cost of exhibiting
  • Number of booth staff needed at an event
  • Potential Return on Investment (i.e. if your costs will be higher due to a distant location you will need greater leads to maintain the same ROI as a local event)
  • How well an event is marketed by the organizer
  • How an event is viewed by your staff, clients and competitors

Where To Look For Events

With so many events scheduled every year it is often difficult to know where to start looking for the next great event to participate in. Here are some good places to start:

  • Check out industry association websites your business or your clients businesses fall into. Or contact the associations directly for recommendations.
  • Ask your current and prospective clients what events they attend.
  • Find out what events your competitors are going to (look for event calendars on their websites).
  • Talk to your employees about shows they think the company should be involved in either from past experience or information they have gleaned from your client base.
  • Venues often have event calendars of upcoming events. Visit your local convention center or a convention center in a particular city you wish to exhibit in.

Before You Lock In That Event

Contact the event organizer or show management to obtain as much information about the event as possible.  Remember to ask for past exhibitor and visitor lists!! Speak to past exhibitors and attendees. Exhibitors and attendees can provide a different slant on the information provided to you by the event organizers. They may also provide insight about how to approach your marketing for that particular event. Attend the show. If you have a year up your sleeve, this is probably the best method in determining whether a show or event is right for you and your company. It is also a great way to get inside information about how to appropriately target your displays and promotional material for the event.  And finally, it gives you the opportunity to see what your competitors are doing so you can present yourself in a way that will distinguish your company from them.

Measure The Outcome

To ensure ongoing success, measure the results from the events you attend.

Now that you are strategically selecting your shows, you could be attending varying styles of events. It is a good idea to group events you attend into categories when it comes time to measure your performance.

Some key things you might want to measure include:

  1. Full cost to attend the event including space, staffing, display expenditure, travel etc.
  2. Number of Leads
  3. Cost per Lead (divide full cost by number of leads)

Remember when it comes to measuring your results, nothing is good or bad until you can compare the results!

About the Author

Samantha Heyden was the Marketing Manager for Skyline Displays Australia before retiring.

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