Trade show services for the small business - choosing to do a trade show
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 investment.
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 yours.
- 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 much smaller.
- 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 itself too.
- 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?
Marketing >> Trade Shows >> Trade Show Basics