When it comes to your overall exhibition success, choosing the right shows to attend makes a big difference. Choose the wrong show, and you could be spending time, energy and money for no return. Nobody knows in advance which show will produce the best results, but if you take the time to work through the following steps, your odds of choosing the best shows for your company will significantly improve.


1. Define your objectives

Ask yourself the following questions: What is the goal of your exhibition marketing program? Is it to launch a new product, brand your company or gather leads and make sales.? Knowing the answers to these important questions will go a long way to helping you decide which show are worth your time.


2. Research events

Find possible shows to attend over the course of the next twelve months and create a list. Don’t forget:

  • Large shows in your industry

  • Shows for buyers groups and procurement – they are fantastic way meet procurement groups and make face to face sales.

  • Shows your top customers attend. This will help you find shows specific to industries that are most relevant to your product or services.

  • Everything you find on this list, even if the dates overlap. This will help you work out shows your target audience is splitting their attendance between, which will help you make a good decision about your event timetable.


3. Do your homework

Gather as much information as possible when you evaluate a show’s potential, show demographics and lists of past participants. Speak to past attendees and exhibitors, and even check the Facebook page and read posts from exhibitors and attendees. If you are unsure, you may even want to check the show’s marketing plan to make sure you will have the number and quality of attendees expected.


4. Visit the show

If there is a way you can visit the show before exhibiting to assess its value, do it. While there, you can also evaluate seminars and supporting events around the show. It costs far less to send one person to a show for a day than the costs of exhibiting. As an added bonus, you can gain firsthand experience of the pros and cons of a specific show.


5. Consider location

Geographical location is an important consideration, because most attendees will come from a 200km radius of the show’s location. Considering your location and target market will help you evaluate a show’s potential.


6. Keep Timing in Mind

Check what other events are scheduled at the same time to see if they will have an impact on attendance.


7. Additional Show Marketing

Some shows have inbuilt marketing, including website links, detailed contact information and other marketing materials. See if there are any opportunities to speak, such as at show seminars or product showcases. Speaking increases your visibility, and as each show prices these differently you may be able to take advantage of this opportunity at one show over the other.


8. Make a Schedule

Create a budget, plan your schedule and stick to it. Just because you have one successful show at the beginning of your schedule does not automatically guarantee the same results with subsequent shows. Don’t be tempted to quickly add more shows to reproduce results, as you will find that you don’t have time to do the marketing and follow up necessary to make each show a success.


9. Be cautious

Participating in a first time show can be a risky venture, due to a lack of prior history, no matter how persuasive the marketing material may be.


10. Choose your space wisely

Every exhibition is different and there are multiple variables affecting the direction, volume and quality of traffic past your display. Get familiar with the floor plan and see how your stand fits within it. See how close you are to attractions, competitors, industry leaders, food vendors, restrooms, entrances, exits, escalators, windows and seminar sites. Try to avoid columns, dead end aisles, loading docks and freight doors, late set up areas and any other black spots on the floor plan.

Ten steps may seem like a lot of work, but choosing your shows wisely can help realise your original objectives and reap the benefits of a successful exhibition marketing program.