Choosing the right shows can make a big difference to your overall success level. Choose the wrong show, and you could be spending money, time and energy with no return. Next time you are choosing the best shows for your company, it’s worth taking the time to sit down and work through the following steps to give yourself best possible chance.


1. Get Clear on Your Objectives

First things first, what are the goals of your event marketing strategy?  Ask yourself the following questions. Do you want current and potential customers to know about a new product? Is it to reinforce your company branding or establish yourself as an industry leader? Do you want to gather leads and make sales right at the show?  Answering these questions will help you to decide which shows to spend your money on.


2. Identify shows

Make a list of potential shows for you and your team to attend over the course of the next year. Don’t forget:

  • All of the major shows in your industry.
  • Ask your ten best customers what shows they attend. This will help you identify shows specific to the industries that use your products most.
  • Add everything you find to the list even if it has clashing show dates. This will demonstrate which shows your target attendees are splitting their attendance between, allowing you to make informed decisions about your schedule.

3. Do your research

Gather as much information as possible when evaluating the potential of a show. This includes show statistics, demographics and review lists of previous participants. Speak to past exhibitors and attendees, and check the Facebook page for the event and read posts by exhibitors and attendees.


4. Visit the show

If at all possible, visit the show yourself prior to exhibiting to assess its value. Sending one person to attend a show for a day costs much less than the costs of exhibiting. It can also give you firsthand knowledge of the real pros and cons of a specific show.


5. Consider location

Take geographical location into consideration when when evaluating a show’s potential. 40-60% of attendees come from a 200km radius of the show location. Take into consideration your target audience and distribution area.


6. Consider timing

Take into account other events happening at the same time to see if they will impact timing.


7. Additional Show Marketing

Some shows have great built in marketing, including links to your website, uploading marketing materials and detailed contact information. Find out if there are opportunities for ‘Product Showcases’ or ‘Event Seminars’ you could present at. There may also be opportunities that can increase your visibility through Sponsorship.


8. Schedule it out

Plan a budget friendly schedule and stick with it. Keep in mind though that one successful show does not mean that adding more shows to the schedule automatically produces equally successful results. Make sure you can give each show the attention it deserves with marketing before, during and after the show, and following up as needed to ensure its success.


9. Play it safe

Be careful about participating in a first time show. A show without a prior history may be a risky venture, no matter how persuasive the promotional material.


10. Choose your space wisely

Every trade show is different and there are many variables affecting direction, volume and quality of traffic past your display.  Familiarise yourself with the floor plan and how your display fits within it. Think about how close you want to be to attractions, competitors, industry leaders, restrooms, entrances, exits, windows or seminar sites.  Try to avoid low ceilings, obstructing columns, loading docks and freight doors, dead-end aisles, dark/poorly lit spaces, ceiling water pipes and late set-up areas on the floor plan.


Ten steps may seem like a lot to do.  But there is arguably no more important decisions you can make than which shows to exhibit at to affect your trade show success.  Take the time to choose shows, and reap the benefits of more leads and sales from your exhibition marketing strategy.