The makeup of your trade show program speaks volumes about your goals and the trajectory of your company. Attending events that give you stellar trade show ROI, however, is the most important part of your program’s success, especially if you’ve invested in a custom trade show booth design.
First, though, marketing teams and trade show managers like you have to decide which shows will bring in the most return – a decision process that takes careful research and planning. That’s why we’ve put together this guide. Keep reading to learn the steps we recommend you take in order to craft your perfect trade show program.
Establish Your Marketing and Sales Goals
It’s hard to know whether a show makes sense for your company if you don’t know the objective you’re trying to reach. By starting with strategy and intent, you can quickly and easily weed out events that don’t align with them. Some common goals for trade show programs include:
- Improve brand awareness
- Showcase a new product or service
- Bring in X of leads
- Increase sales by X%
- Develop and strengthen existing relationships
By having your goals as a baseline, the entire team can feel confident that the event they’re working is worthwhile and valuable.
Research Industry-Relevant Events
Although there will always be established, must-attend tradeshows in your industry, remember that new events pop up every year. Do your research, and see just how many relevant shows take place throughout the year.
At the same time, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Exhibiting at shows that are in a related industry may bring a plethora of networking opportunities that you didn’t know existed. Just don’t venture too far, or you could look like a fish out of water.
It is in your best interest to review the list of exhibitors from last year’s event to see if any competitors or companies similar to yours attended. If possible, reach out to those organizations to find out if the event was a success. This gives you the inside scoop before you commit a portion of your budget to a show.
An important distinction to make is that there are two types of events at which you can exhibit: consumer-facing and industry-focused. Exhibiting at a consumer show typically means you are trying to raise awareness for your company and/or launch a new product or service. An industry show is more popular for companies looking to network, grow their book of business, and learn about current trends.
Depending on the nature of your company, you might have both or just one of these types of events in your trade show program. Just remember that this decision—to attend consumer and/or industry events—should be based on how and if the event aligns with your company goals.
Ask the Hard Questions
After deciding which shows could potentially make it on to your schedule, it’s time to narrow it down to a definite trade show program. But how do you do that?
Create a list of questions to ask before you commit. These could be answered within your own team, from another exhibitor, and/or from the point of contact from the show. Here are some suggestions:
- Is this event relevant to our company and industry?
- What’s the show’s reputation, and how long has it been running?
- Is it a consumer or industry event?
- How will we size up against other exhibitors?
- Have competitors exhibited at this show in the past?
- Do we have an opportunity to grow current relationships and/or gain new leads?
The answers to these questions can reduce an overwhelming amount of show possibilities to a more manageable list.
Pull Out Your Calendar
Once you’ve narrowed down your program to your top events, next you need to pare it down even further. It’s important to consider the timing for them as compared to each other, holidays, as well as company and industry events.
Make sure that none of your events overlap, and that you’ve thought through the logistics of transporting your exhibit. Is there enough time to ship the booth back to the exhibit house for repairs or updates? Or will you have to ship it directly to the next show? If there is a lot of time between events, you’ll have to look in to storage possibilities.
In addition to reviewing your own program’s schedule, investigate what other events are taking place in the host city of the trade show. If one of your shows is happening the same weekend and in the same city as the Super Bowl, for example, you can guarantee high flight costs, scarce hotel room availability, and surging ride share services.
Finally, when it comes to timing, consider where in the fiscal year a show falls for your biggest customers and prospects. Is it close to year-end when budgets are tight, or does it fall so early on the calendar that they will be hesitant to make decisions? Knowing how your program lines up with decision making can help you predict their behavior.
Now that you’re ready to put together the perfect trade show schedule, it’s time to consider a custom trade show booth design. At Exhibitus, we specialize in one-of-a-kind, award-winning booths. Contact us today to learn more about your exhibit options for your next event.