How to Find the Right Trade Show for Your Business

Trade show event

While it’s true that trade shows help businesses build brand awareness and establish relationships with professionals and potential customers, it’s equally important to acknowledge that they’re not all the same.

There are three primary groups of trade shows: industry-only trade shows, consumer-only trade shows, and industry/consumer hybrid trade shows. Each type of trade show can be beneficial, as long as it aligns with your marketing goals.

Thankfully, finding the right trade show isn’t difficult, although it does take some work. We’ve put together a list of our favorite tips to get you started.

Tip #1: Research All Trade Shows in Your Industry

One of the cornerstones of effective exhibition marketing involves sitting down and researching all (yes, all!) the trade shows in your industry. This will take a fair amount of time, but learning more about where to exhibit and, more critically, where not to is essential.

Some businesses may want to use trade shows to build brand awareness or to be seen as a thought leader/ knowledge resource, while others are simply trying to sell specific products and services. Look at the purpose of the tradeshow to find ones that align with these larger objectives that you have in mind. And if you don’t have a list of goals/objectives already, you should create one before you begin your research.

When researching trade shows, also look into their history. Are these trade shows new, or are they well-established events that have occurred annually for many years? Well-established trade shows will have plenty of data to look back on, including the number of attendees and types of exhibitors, that will help you better understand if it’s worth your time and effort. 

Tip #2: Look Into the Other Exhibitors 

Next, look at the list of other businesses that will be exhibiting at the trade shows you’re interested in to get a better idea of your competition. Will you compete with major industry names, startups, or a combination of both? Look at the floor plan for the trade show too. Any bigger industry names or well-established businesses will have booked most of the prime booth locations. 

Knowing what you’re up against will inform your overall strategy. Is this particular trade show worth it? Will you be a small fish in a sea of sharks? 

If you’re still uncertain about trade shows, you could also use this as an opportunity to attend the trade show yourself before you start exhibiting. While at the trade show, you can gain better insight into your competitors and how they’re marketing their products, services, and other offerings. Is there anything your business does that sets you apart from the competition? Are any of these businesses promoting new products? Are they emphasizing certain products? How are they advertising these products? 

Once you’ve gathered all the information you need from your competitors, think about the types of problems that your target audience faces. How does your business solve these problems? Do you solve them differently than your competitors? How could you take this information and turn it into an eye-catching display at a trade show? 

Tip #3: Choose a Good Location

It’s also important to remember that location is always a top priority. Events that are taking place in larger cities can bring massive crowds, but they can also be expensive. You’ll have to budget for hotels, food, transportation, and other costs. Transportation of necessary equipment can also be more expensive depending on how far the venue is from your organization’s headquarters.

A smaller event may draw a smaller audience, but your overall return on investment could be greater once these factors are considered. Always be mindful of each location’s pros and cons before selecting an event to attend based on crowd sizes and venue capacity alone.

Other Questions to Consider

Finding the right trade show isn’t just about your company’s overall goals and vision—you must also carefully consider your target audience. While you’re creating a list of marketing objectives, also take time to outline your target audience. What do they like? What do they need? What problems can you help them solve? 

You’ll also need to consider how much time you have to prepare a strategy and overall plan. Is the trade show you’re interested in coming up soon? How much time do you realistically have to market your presence at the show? Generally, you’ll want to have at least a month or two to start preparing for the show, and you’ll also want to ensure that you have a fully developed marketing plan that outlines the goals you’re trying to accomplish, that way you have the means to measure success and identify potential areas of improvement.

Please read this helpful article for more information on developing a trade show marketing strategy.

Get Help Planning Your Next Trade Show 

Do you need help planning your next trade show appearance? Schedule a consultation with our team at GraphiColor. We’re an award-winning trade show exhibit design company that has helped businesses in many industries since 1984. In addition to designing and constructing unique booths and displays, we provide trade show management services, including storage, planning and marketing, and transportation/logistics. Let us know how we can help you!

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