How to choose the right trade show for your business

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Exhibiting at an industry trade show can be an excellent way of launching a new product or service, helping you gain sales and forge new strategic connections. In fact, research by Exhibit Surveys found that 84% of exhibition attendees have the ability to influence buying decisions, and more than 50% make a purchase as a result of attending a show.


But that doesn’t mean trade shows come cheap, and to make attendance worthwhile you will need to invest both time and money in doing it right.


So how do you choose the ideal trade show for your business? Here are three tips from Richard Edwards of Quatreus:


1)   Assess your objectives


The first step is to list all your reasons for wanting to exhibit. Remember: be specific. “To increase sales” is a bit too vague. How will you boost sales? By making new partners or by showing-off your product?


Here are some suggestions to get you thinking:


–         Launch a new product – make sure the trade show is industry specific


–         Make new contacts – A high footfall is important and plenty of staff to actively engage visitors


–         Learn about recent industry developments – look for exhibitions with lectures and workshops


–         Interact with your current customers – pick a trade show they are likely to attend


–         Test out new product – choose an exhibition that is more focused on the stands than education


Make sure you identify all your key objectives and order them by priority. This will help you assess the opportunities available.


2)   Compare trade show expectation to key objectives


Next you can start to compare the expectations from each show to your desired objectives to find the best matches.


Look at each trade show in turn and try to find out from previous years things like:

–         Size – both footfall and actual exhibition space

–         Industry segment – which area of the industry will the trade show target

–         Number of exhibitors – how many attended previous events

–         Competition – are your competitors likely to attend? If so, how many?

–         Publicity – where will the trade show be publicised? E.g. in what trade magazines?

–         Respect – how is the trade show rated by customers and industry peers alike?


With this information you should be able to score each potential trade show based on how well they meet your key objectives.


3)   Balancing the budget


A fundamental question you need to answer is: Can we afford this trade show?


You should have a good idea of your budget, so the best way to get started is to create a list of all possible trade shows and their ticket cost and cross off all those you cannot afford.


In order to meet your defined objectives it is important to make sure you have also factored in appropriate costs for each exhibition.


Here are just some of the other main exhibition costs that you need to consider:


–         Exhibition stand-build – Stand builds range in price depending on the materials and level of design. Creative design and investing more up front in elements that can be re-used will provide significant savings over the longer term and is better for the planet.


Don’t forget, there will also be venue costs for things like power and communications.


–         Marketing materials – You will need marketing information written and printed, as well as other materials such as video. You can cut out printing costs by using software like qbit from Quatreus, which sends digital copies of your marketing materials via email straight to the visitor’s inbox, forming an instant and lasting connection.


–         Staffing – Your staffing budget will include operating costs for planning and management time, as well as staff to attend the event on the day. You may also need to pay for staff lodging and subsistence for the duration of the exhibition.


–         Travel – The further you are travelling the higher the cost. Reusable stand components can cut costs here too since you will need fewer vans to transport the components.


To meet your stated objectives you will also need to think about the costs of other activities like demos, competitions, branding/graphics, extra advertising and so on.


Once you have factored all of these costs in for each opportunity, plus the ticket cost, you can eliminate all those that would see you going over budget to leave you with an ordered list of affordable trade shows that match your objectives and target market.


This will come in useful even if you only pick your top rated exhibition – if you have to pull out or the show is cancelled, you are prepared with plenty of backup choices! is a B2B Online Publication for the UK Business Community.
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