Why do tradeshows?
Tradeshows are a great way
to get out and meet the public face to face, shake hands, and
introduce them to your products and services.
Many potential clients come to tradeshows specifically for
the purpose of seeing whatís new.
When tradeshows are industry specific, people that
show up are actually searching for the kinds of businesses that
are represented here.
The big tradeshow question then
is should you be involved, which ones to be involved with and
which ones are to be avoided like the plague.
This is going to take some research on your part and in the
end, there is no formula and there will always be varying degrees
of success and failure.
Evaluating tradeshow success
Even if you donít consider the tradeshow
to be your complete idea of a success, you have to examine every
aspect of what you have gained out of the experience and not all
of these will be immediately measurable in a direct return on your
A common practice at the end of
every show is to identify how many contacts we made, and how many
sales or appointments we have set.
While these are good to consider, another would be to ask
whether the crowd itself seemed to gel with your stated purpose.
"Did we come
into contact with our demographic?"
Chances are that no matter how
well you plan your first tradeshow, you will simply not have it
all together. Everyone works a tradeshow differently and has their own
little things that will make it better.
This however, is a good place to start to decide what
things you should look at when deciding what tradeshows you want
to participate in and what things will make your tradeshow
experience flow a bit smoother.
Tradeshows are very common
and you can find them all over the place if you go out looking.
The key is to find the tradeshows that give you a decent
value for your money and wonít waste your time and/or resources.
Some people are a bit afraid of
new tradeshows because they donít have a history to point
to. However, I have
found that while they may be a bit more chaotic, they can be some
of your best bargains. Because
they are new, these tradeshows are often much cheaper and more
people show up to them because they are new.
Here are some other things to ask about:
- Ask for tradeshow information
related to their demographics and see how they match up to
- Be sure you know what kind of
tradeshow audience they are targeting.
Is the tradeshow aimed at professionals or is it aimed
exclusively at consumers?
- Take a look at other merchants
to see who will be attending the tradeshow.
If you see major names there, these will be big draws
and they will probably be putting their own marketing dollars
into it as well. If
no large booth areas are reserved, it doesnít mean that it
will fail, but it probably means that this tradeshow could be
- Look at the venue where they
are setting up. Is
it a convention center or other large venue, or is it a
conference room at a hotel.
The later is not going to attract much of a crowd and
you will probably talk to more of the other disappointed
merchants than you will potential customers.
- How big is the booth?
Will it fit your tradeshow display?
- What are the tradeshow hours? If it is during the day, done by 4:00 and there is no weekend
involved, your consumer traffic will be pretty low.
- Do they have media sponsors? Unless they have at least one local newspaper and one popular
radio/television station, itís going to be dead.
- Are other merchants giving
stuff away? If
so, you will be expected to do so as well.
It is a sad day to have your competition one booth down
giving out something very cool, and all you have at your booth
is a bag of the cheap hard candy that you picked up at
Walgreenís on the way over.
- What facilities will be
available? Check for electrical source, carpet pieces, tables, and
anything else that you can think of.
- Ask them for a list of their
vendors for the last 3 years and then compare them to see who
all is returning. If companies similar to yours come back, itís a good
indication that they were satisfied and that you will be too. If they donít have any repeat business, that speaks for
- Look at the agenda to see if
there are things to attract people besides the tradeshow
itself. Are there
guest speakers, classes, seminars, etc. that will attract
serious tradeshow attendees?