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Top 10 Ways to Select the Right Shows and Events

There are many reasons to attend a trade show. Living in the Midwest, it is certainly tempting to pick a show based on which has the warmest temperatures and occurs in the middle of January. Alas, that would be frowned upon at most companies, and for good reason. A trade show, expo or event gives your company the ability to create brand awareness, obtain new business clients, and nurture existing relationships and more importantly, drive new revenue. However, if you pick the wrong show or event, none of this can happen. If the people you want to meet are not at the show, it will be pretty hard to justify going. Also, if the demographic is right, but they are not in the right industry or the timing for buying is wrong, your best exhibiting efforts will not succeed.

It seems in general that most people are now more selective about which shows to attend. Picking the wrong show can cost your company a lot of money and put your trade show and marketing budget at risk.

A number of exhibitors divide their shows into three categories:

  • Key shows –Priority is given to exhibit and ensure full promotional support from marketing.
  • Regional – Basic marketing support but mostly run by regional sales.
  • Minor – Events attended by sales and marketing where the company does not exhibit.

Here are some of the top reasons stated by respondents to our recent survey regarding how and why the pick what shows to attend and exhibit.

Good ways to exhibit at a prospective show:

  1. Calculate the number of leads (and potential revenue from those leads) expected from each potential show and compare them with the cost of attending
  2. Check if the show is attended by your largest existing clients, this may be an opportunity to connect with them
  3. Find shows where attendees are potential clients that would be incremental to your client base
  4. Consider new shows or conferences that you know your current and likely customers attend
  5. Pick events in industries or in Geographies your company is interested in penetrating
  6. Evaluate shows that are smaller yet more targeted to your industry and goals

Good reasons to attend, but may need to evaluate incremental value of exhibiting:

One thing to consider is what additional benefits you will get by being able to have a space at the show and what can you do at the show to draw in the right attendees.

  1. Ask sales and marketing leadership if the show is a good networking opportunity for them. Then estimate potential return on investment for the show.
  2. Find out if more decision makers will be present at the show. You should be able to get this data from the show organizer. It will be important to determine whether the number of potential decision makers will be enough to justify exhibiting at this show vs. others that may have a broader base of decision makers and key influencers.
  3. Ask sales leaders if the show will foster interaction with valued clients. Then have them estimate sales that make be obtained or facilitated by having a presence at that show.

Below are other things you may hear as reasons to attend or exhibit at a show:

  • We can get a better booth space – While a nice big booth space is nice, it will only help if you get enough potential clients in that show
  • Staffers think this would be a good show – You need to find out why they think so
  • It works within our current trade show schedule – A good factor to consider will the ROI justify the investment of this additional show?
  • The competition will be there. This is a good reason to attend the show if you want to evaluate the competition but it is not a sufficient reason to exhibit.
  • Attendance was good the last time we exhibited there. Ensure that attendees were potential clients, decision makers or influencers. You should also make sure that the attendee profile has not changed. Ask trade show organizer for statistics they have on their attendee demographics and job titles.
  • We got good leads there last time. Check to see what percentage of leads converted into sales.

While all of these are good pieces of information they are not enough to make a decision.

The most important way to select a show:

  1. Estimate potential revenue that can be generated due to new contacts created at the show or by sharing information or products with existing clients. It is very important to get buy in from your team and leadership regarding your goals at each show before deciding to attend.

To find out how each of the ways to select an event and event schedules ranked in our research, request your free copy of the What’s working in Exhibiting white paper. Click here.



About the Author

Sofia Troutman was the Manager of Digital Marketing & Product Innovation for Skyline Exhibits in St. Paul, MInnesota.

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