Find the right trade show

December 17, 2010 - Tags: Customers Marketing

Sales, promotion and relationship-building are some of the main reasons to exhibit as a vendor at a trade show. Participating in a show costs time and money, but thorough preparations can help you to get the most out of it. The key is choosing the right one.

Start by deciding what you want from the experience. Be realistic about your expectations and narrow down your goals. For example, are you hoping to:

  • Meet potential buyers, make sales, and launch new products?
  • Advertise your product, create awareness, and present your branding?
  • Make contacts, build relationships, and get feedback?
  • Gain industry knowledge?
  • Get media exposure?

Next, you'll want to look for shows that have the potential to meet those needs. Points you might consider:

  • Are you better off exhibiting in a business-to-business event or in a consumer show?
  • Who is your target audience, and which shows do they attend?
  • Which shows do your competitors attend?

Learn more about a trade show to ensure it is the best option for your business.

  • How many vendors and attendees does it have?
  • How much marketing does this show do?
  • Is the show's theme compatible with your branding strategy?
  • Will the show's location attract the right attendees?
  • What are the costs?
  • Does it have the potential to offer a good return on your investment?

Find out if anyone in your network has attended in the past, or attend the show first as a visitor to get a feel for it.

After you make your choice, you’ll want to plan ahead. Getting ready for a major trade show can take a year or more, so be sure to leave enough time for your preparations.

To find shows, a number of resources can help. Websites can help refine the search by industry or country. Other information sources might include:

  • Industry associations or publications
  • Chambers of commerce
  • Tourism and convention bureaus
  • Your contacts

If you are looking at export markets, consider registering for the Virtual Trade Commissioner to learn of upcoming events within your industry in markets abroad.

For more information on preparing for a trade show, take a look at our section on Trade show marketing.

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