This step is one of the most critical steps you can do for your overall trade show strategy. Selecting the right trade show to attend can make a big difference to your success level, in addition to qualifying leads and sales versus spending money, time and energy with no return on your investment.
1. Ask Questions
The first questions you should be asking are "who do you want to reach at the show?" and "what do you want to have happen?"
2. Identify shows
There are two groups of shows you should be evaluating: the shows you are presently attending, and the shows you want to consider for future participation. Who is your target market and which shows do they attend?
3. Match your objectives
Selecting the right shows means matching your show exhibiting objectives with the right target audiences, the right timing to meet buyers’ purchasing patterns and the ability to show and demonstrate your products/services.
4. Do your homework
When evaluating a show’s potential, gather as much information as possible to include show statistics/demographics and review lists of previous show participants. Verify the information provided by show management. Speak to past exhibitors and attendees to measure the success of the show.
5. Visit the Show
Whenever possible, personally visit the show prior to exhibiting to assess its value and talk to the exhibitors in the show. Evaluate the supporting events and/or educational seminars around the show.
6. Consider location
When evaluating a show's potential, take geographical location into consideration. Usually 40-60% of attendees come from a 200-mile radius of the show location. Consider your distribution area and target audience and does this meet your attendee target geographical data?
7. Consider timing
What other events are scheduled for the same time as the show and will they impact attendance? Are there multiple events going on the same time period?
8. Evaluate opportunities
What other marketing possibilities could the show offer? Are there opportunities for sponsorship, showcasing new offerings or participation in the educational seminars?
9. Play it safe
Be cautious about participating in a first time show. Promotional material may be extremely persuasive, but a show without prior history is a risky venture and can cost you more money than anticipated.
10. Choose your space wisely
Every trade show is unique and there are many variables affecting direction, volume and quality of traffic past your display. Be familiar with the floor plan and how your trade show booth fits. Ask us about how to be in the “V” of the floor plan and how traffic usually flows at shows. Consider how close you want to be to the main attractions, industry leaders, competitors, restrooms, food stations, entrances, exits, escalators/elevators/lifts, windows or seminar sites. Avoid obstructing columns, low ceilings, dead-end aisles, loading docks and freight doors, dark/poorly lit spaces, ceiling water pipes, late set-up areas or "black spots" on the floor plan.