So, you’ve defined your target audience and expectations of exhibiting (see Tip 1 – Trade Shows post). Now it’s time to figure out whether a certain show or conference is right for your business investment. 

Research is of paramount importance to ensure you’re making a good decision – no matter the business issue. When it comes to “shows”, knowing what is available to you is the first step in ensuring you make a sound investment. Research the shows, conferences or events available that satisfy your criteria that you determined when you were setting your goals. If you’re uncertain as to how to find event listings, contact your industry associations, Boards of Trade, Chambers of Commerce, networking groups, etc. and ask what’s going on.

Another great resource is previous exhibitors (a list of past participants are available from the show management reports and usually their website). Make contact with them. Ask questions of their experience with the show visitors, show trends and show management (and the marketing!). Some effective questions for them might be:

1. Their opinion of the show in general (good attendance? well run? conflicts with other events?)

2. Who is their target market

3. How long have they been attending the show

4. What initiatives the exhibitor developed to promote themselves at the show

5. Their opinion of the management of the show

Remember, this will be your contact’s OPINION, and should be considered as such. You’re looking for trending in responses, so ensure your questions are relevant to your goals for exhibiting at the show (e.g. 7 out of 9 reported they were successful in meeting x prospective clients in your target group, or 3 of 7 reported they successfully launched a new product at the show).

Speak with the show management group and find out about their targeted demographics, what marketing/promotional efforts they use and what (if any) special events will be happening at the show. Also – remember to get a floor plan so you can best plan for the most effective booth location and set-up.

Keep in mind that the best way to determine whether any show will be of benefit to you is to attend as a visitor. Do your own primary research to determine which show is best suited to you.

Next Tip (#3): Map your plan (the easy way).