Choosing the right show to attend can really contribute to your ROI and make a big difference to your overall success. Many exhibitors make the mistake of being loyal to their favourite shows even if they’re not bringing back any results. And many choose the biggest and most popular events and simply hope to get a good return on investment.

Just attending a trade show is not good enough. In order to maximise the possibilities trade shows can provide, you have to do all the necessary trade show homework. This means listing all your reasons for wanting to exhibit and working out which shows are best suited for your business and target audience.

Attend the right exhibition and you can really add value to your company and generate high quality leads. Attend the wrong exhibition and you can be spending money, time and energy with no return.

Here are a couple of factors to consider before you decide which exhibition to attend:

1. Set objectives

Trade show objectives are a key element of trade show success. Before you start compiling a list of shows you want to attend this year, clearly define your objectives and strategy. You and your team need to know why you’re exhibiting and what your trade show focus is.

  • Are we trying to build awareness of our brand?
  • Are we launching a new product or service?
  • Do we want to strengthen the relationship with our existing customers?
  • Or do we simply want to make new contacts and sales?

Highlight reasons for wanting to exhibit and identify key objectives before you decide which shows you will spend money on. Don’t forget to also set stand objectives unique to your brand – including space requirements, type of stand and product displays needed.

2. Develop a budget

We all know that exhibitions are not cheap, but they can be extremely beneficial to the success of your business. Carefully plan your exhibiting budget before you book your trade show space. Factor in all costs for each individual exhibition, not just the registration fees, space and your exhibition display, but also travel, hotel and onsite expenses, giveaways, marketing and promotions.

Ask yourself what you will need at the show (as well as before and after the show) to meet all the goals you listed right at the beginning of your trade show planning. Always plan ahead to avoid surprises.

3. Research your options

Now that you have your objective and budget set, you can start a thorough trade show research. To make the process easier, you can categorise your possible list of shows by country, industry, date, size or price. Only consider trade shows that you can afford and eliminate those that go above your budget. Consider large industry shows as well as smaller local events. Make sure you learn how each show will contribute to your objectives and gather as much information as possible including demographics, previous participants, attendee numbers and show statistics.

Before you make a decision, you should know the answers to:

  • Can we afford this trade show?
  • Are we familiar with the city and venue?
  • Is the trade show established?
  • Does it have good reputation?
  • How big is the trade show? (Do we have statistics from last year?)
  • What industry does it target?
  • Who is attending it?
  • Where is the trade show advertised?

Check social media pages like Facebook to see how popular the show is and what other exhibitors and attendees are saying about it. Visit as many shows as possible prior to exhibiting. This will help you evaluate the show and decide if it’s right for your business.

4. Consider your audience

When deciding which shows to attend, you also have to figure out who specifically you are targeting at an exhibition. Your consumer demographic is key to success. Research your target market to find out which shows they’re attending. Don’t assume that they’re only attending big industry events. Some of your key buyers may regularly attend smaller shows that are not industry specific. Local events are a great opportunity to gain exposure and they will give you a bigger ROI.

As part of your research, you can ask ten of your existing customers which shows they regularly attend. It’s crucial to identify shows with a high percentage of attendees that fit your customer profile. You also have to consider timing and your distribution area. Research shows that 40-60% of attendees will come from a 200 mile radius.

Where is the show you’re planning to attend? What other shows are taking place at the same time that could impact the attendance of your audience?

Lastly, before exhibiting:
  • Take time to choose your space and exhibition stand design. Once you know which show or shows you want to attend, decide whether you will need a unique custom exhibition stand, a lightweight portable display or a reusable modular solution that you can use at multiple events.
  • Have a marketing and social media plan in place to back up your exhibition presence. Ask show organisers about marketing opportunities and use official show hashtags to promote your attendance.
  • Does the show have a lead collection system you can use, or are you going to create your own? Decide how you’re going to measure your success at the show and make a follow up plan.
  • To help you organise your exhibition, check out our ultimate exhibition checklist. Here are a few tips to get the most out of your time on the show floor.

These are just a couple of easy steps to consider when choosing the right exhibition for your business. Take these planning tips as a starting point. They will help you compile a list of shows that suit your brand, match your target market, and hit your objectives.

Here at Skyline Whitespace, we provide a range of affordable options to help you get more from your budget, from practical modular exhibition stands to rental options. For more information, or to ask us for a quote, simply get in touch with our talented team of designers today.