The decision to exhibit at trade shows can be a confusing one for business owners.
Whether you are operating a new or established business you are going to get approached by organisers of trade shows, exhibitions and conferences to part with your hard earned cash to sponsor or have a stand at their event.
Trade shows, conferences and exhibitions can be an effective way of growing your business by allowing you to meet prospective clients, build industry connections and develop your industry awareness. However, even the right show will likely be a huge drain on your finances and time.
The decision on whether trade shows, business conferences, exhibitions or even jamborees are right for your business depends on a number of different factors within your business.
Here are a few key questions to answer before pulling the trigger on your next trade show stand.
Which Trade Shows Are Right For My Business?
The first step to growing your business through exhibitions is to identify the exhibitions that might be relevant to your business.
These could be events focused on your industry where you look to increase your industry knowledge and connection base, or they could be those that appeal to your potential customer base where you might get a chance to meet them one to one.
Exhibiting at events within your industry can be great for building connections and thought leadership but if your business is relatively young or short on time or financial resources then focusing on visiting same industry events and exhibiting at events where your target audience is present may be more effective.
What Would A Successful Show Look Like?
Trade shows are a marketing activity, this means that before committing time, effort and money into exhibiting at a show you should know what you want to get out of it.
How is attending the trade show going to impact upon your reputation and contribute to the sales and marketing objectives of your business?
Once you have this nailed down, you can analyse if your objectives are achievable in line with the profile of the event.
What Is The Commitment I Have To Make To This Show?
Once you have identified shows that have a good track record of footfall within your target audience, the next question should be as an exhibitor what commitment both financial and time wise will I have to make.
This covers more than just the cost of the stand paid to the event organiser. There are lots of things you need to buy and organise between signing the contract and turning up on the day, particularly if you are planning for your first event.
Considerations should include
People required to effectively staff the trade stand
Budget for the design of your stand and props
Budget for printed materials and promotional merchandise
Transport and accommodation if not near your location
Can I Get An Opportunity To Speak
Many trade shows and business exhibitions have seminars and presentations as part of the event program. If you are able to blend exhibiting with an opportunity to speak in front of your target audience then you are on to a winner.
There is no harm in asking the event organiser about speaking opportunities as part of the stand booking process. Particularly as speaking helps build your profile and reputation among the attendees and fellow exhibitors.
Can I Get The Same Benefit As A Visitor
Unfortunately not all trade shows are created equal. If you have not been to a show before are unsure about whether an event is right for you then we recommend going as a visitor first.
This will allow you to scope it out, find out who attends and network without breaking the bank. You might even find you are able to take advantage of networking opportunities and grow your business right there in the room.