Taking part in a trade show is a great way to promote your brand, but it does take time, effort and money. So where do you start? How do you choose what show to attend as an exhibitor? Here are some tips to get started:
1. Define the “who” and “why.”
Have a purpose and define your goal for exhibiting at a trade show. Do you have a new product to promote? Or do you want to create brand awareness and cultivate new relationships and nurture existing ones? This goes hand-in-hand with knowing your target audience. If you don’t know who you want to talk to or have no goals in place, it will be difficult to measure your success in the end.
2. You’ve got the “why,” but how do you decide which one to attend?
Set aside some time for research and apply your goal to choose which one is right for you. There are generally two kinds of trade shows out there:
B2C shows are business to consumer – it’s where your company interacts with the consumer of your products or services. These are ideal if you have a product or service you want to promote to consumers, or if you’re looking to get immediate feedback from potential customers (e.g. Comicon’s attendees are superfans of the brands that are featured).
B2B shows are business to business – it’s where your company interacts with industry colleagues and the like. Businesses have different goals in mind when attending and may come to obtain new product information, learn about new developments in the industry and network with colleagues (e.g. A brand launching a new product and/or selling an existing one to other businesses).
3. How do I find shows that best meet my objectives?
This can be as simple as a Google search related to your industry – “manufacturing trade shows 2018” or “top machinery trade shows” or “best biotech trade shows.” Once you find something interesting, check out the trade show’s website for more information. You can also contact show management to see if exhibiting in the show is right for you by obtaining previous show statistics (demographics, lists of previous years’ exhibitors, and numbers of attendees from year to year). Even do some research to find out if your competitors are attending or have attended in the past. Also talk to your colleagues to see if anyone has taken part in any business-related shows and if it was successful for them.
4. As part of the research process, go to industry trade shows as an attendee.
This can be a valuable learning tool. If you’ve never attended one, you’ll have a lot to observe – take notes! What do you like about other booths? Observe booth and show floor layouts, foot traffic and how booth staff interact with attendees. How does booth staff attract people inside their booth? Look at actual booth spaces, designs and booth attributes. If you have attended shows before, but never thought you’d become an exhibitor AT one, you can gain a fresh perspective and new insight as a potential exhibitor.
5. Before you decide to exhibit, know your budget!
One of the most important things to keep in mind is cost. Will exhibiting fit into your company’s budget and will the cost be worth your return? Remember, participation is made up of not only renting a booth space but also the cost of your exhibit, the shipping and material handling of booth items, marketing and promo materials, staff travel and lodging, among others. Costs can add up, so make sure to take the time to research the expenses beforehand to avoid surprises later.