The personal relationships and business reputation that you can develop through trade shows is an ROI that you cannot really obtain anywhere else. However, you need to attend the right shows to make sure that you are building the personal relationships and business reputation that actually matter. Your business is probably on a budget as well. Even if you have multiple shows to attend, you may have to make a choice. Here is a short post on how to choose the trade shows to attend this year.
Defining Your Intent
Before you begin looking up keynote speakers and planning logistics, plan out the objectives for your year. The trade shows that might increase your overall leads may not be the same shows that would be best for a new product launch or a loyalty plan.
Shortening the Discovery Process
There are quite a few trade show calendars that you can search for new ideas on what to attend. Before you get a shortlist, you should look around a bit. New shows are popping up all over the world. The globalized economy is more connected than ever, and you may find a show that you did not even know existed. Here is a good calendar to get you started.
Studying the Event History
Once you find a number of interesting shows, you can check the history of those shows online. In the same way that you might check a review for a restaurant before going, you can now check the event history of shows. Take a look at the comments that other attendees have left in past years. Cross-reference their feedback with the goals you set for your business when defining your intent.
Getting the Timing
You may be able to attend more shows with a little logistics work at the beginning of the year. Shows that are close to each other may save you money on travel costs. You may be able to bring exhibits from one show to another that is within the same time frame. You should also consider how the timing of shows coincides with your internal schedule. For instance, a new product expo is no good if you are not going to be done with your prototype.
Looking at the Press
In order to shorten your list, you should look at the additional marketing opportunities that each show offers you. Some shows will have sponsorship opportunities or have speaking slots that you can use to advertise. Prioritize the shows that have the highest ROI, and contact them early to get on these special lists.
Segmenting Your Audience
The total number of attendees at a trade show is much less important than you may think. You want the right people, not the most people. Although the global audience is great to touch, realize that around 50% of attendees at a trade show will come from a 200-mile radius. Is this local audience important to you? If not, then you may be able to skip the show.
Creating a Budget
You now have a shortlist of trade shows and the schedule to attend them. It is time to get the budget together to attend them all. There is a reason that the money comes after the planning stage–hopefully, you have chosen shows that will expand your profitability. If this is the case, then the upfront cost should not matter. If all of your shows brings you $100,000, then a $10,000 expense, no matter how painful in the short term, is always worth it.