Trade Show Planning

Pre tradeshow planning and marketing is critical

There’s a lot to do when undertaking tradeshow planning and one of the first steps in planning an exhibit program for your business is to determine which of the thousands of shows you intend to enter during the year. Of particular importance are the figures relating to attendance.

For instance, how many visitors were important buying influences and what were the job functions they represented? You must also be tough in your evaluation of a trade show’s worthiness. Ask yourself: “Are the attendees likely customers for my organization? Know what industries contain your potential customers as well as what level and job functions are your buying influences. Specialized trade shows usually have a higher percentage of likely prospects whereas the larger the show the more general will be its audience.

When tradeshow planning, don’t forget that your exposure to a few hundred very qualified targets is better than exposure to thousands of visitors who are very unlikely be interested in your products or services. Products (and/or services) to be shown should be determined by referring to the expected attendance. If show management provides a breakdown by industry, this will give you an idea of what products to show at the trade show. Valid visitor registration data is important in evaluating whether you should participate in a particular trade show.

The number of people attending a trade show doesn’t mean as much as the quality of your prospects attending. The better trade shows start running out of good space very quickly, so when doing your tradeshow planning don’t wait too long to book. This is especially important if you want to retain the preferred space you had at a previous show.

You should commence your tradeshow planning at least 12 months in advance, but what your exhibit will feature and the objectives you want to achieve needn’t be set immediately. Which particular shows to participate in is not an easy decision to make. Plan to set up a booth, either on your own or with a key partner, if you wish to have a significance presence at a trade show. You need to make thoughtful decisions about those trade shows that represent the best opportunities.

Define Your Target Audience:

By thoroughly understanding your buyers (industry, title, geography, motivations, product need/usage, etc.) and how they make purchase decisions will enable you to select opportunistic trade shows that will yield profitable results. Review all the trade shows you have attended in the past and remove from your list those that were disappointing. Of course, ensure that you keep those that were strong performers on your list.

by Ken MacKenzie – 2010
Ken MacKenzie is a former Senior Consultant with International Public Relations and Marketing Manager with a U.S. Trade Center. He is the author of “The Trade Show Edge”.


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