Let’s face it, everybody has exhibited at a tradeshow and at the end of the show said, “I’ll never do this show again”. With the proliferation of trade shows these days, which show do you choose? Well, first of all you don’t just choose one show and let that be your agenda for the year; you plan your schedule strategically. I would suggest, depending on your industry, let’s take manufacturing for example, you choose no fewer than two shows per year and more, if warranted (more on that in a minute). Two shows, one in the spring and one in the fall, allows your organization the benefit from any sales cycles that may exist. More to the point it allows your sales force to interface with prospects and suspects, not to mention customers, which may only get perfunctory attention during the rest of the year. And, it provides excellent momentum for introduction of new products and services. More than two shows? Absolutely, if your organization has opportunities in sectors of large market categories.
But which shows? Here are some suggestions to consider: If the show is National, where can your space be positioned and what is the trend in exhibitors? Can your space be positioned near the entrance or are you going to relegated to some obscure space in the back of the hall? When the calls to entry comes in, are the same number of exhibitors signed up this year as last OR is it negative gain? Is the show manager, your industry association? And, if so, are they offering symposia on meaningful industry issues (or maybe no round tables or topics at all)? If so, can your sales manager be a speaker or at least on a round table discussion panel? If not, chances are your customers will feel the same and skip the show. I would poll your ten top customers and ask what show(s) they attend. And, if there are several new prospects or suspects that have high potential, ask them as well. A blinding glimpse of the obvious? Probably. Good marketing? You bet.
What if the shows your organization is considering are simply Regional or Local in scope? I would call the show manager and ask about attendance over the last several years. If it’s up or steady; it’s definitely worth considering. If not, what’s the point?
If it’s Regional, I would definitely ask the same set of questions but I would look for the participation of my competition as well. If your competition is there, you may be conspicuous by your absence. If not, it may be a golden opportunity, especially if the attendance is up from one year to the next. If your competition has been there but not recently, you may want to ask some more questions and see if the right set of prospects and suspects fits your goals.
If it’s Local, I would definitely check the venue. If the venue is a hotel or motel, it may be OK but only if you are offered adequate space (definitely not a hallway). If it’s a convention center or exhibition hall, definitely worth considering – the venue is right around the corner and you can rotate manning the booth throughout the show so it’s convenient for everybody.
Remember, NO MATTER WHAT THE SHOW, the organization that ends up with the most visitors to its space is the organization that wins.