Tradeshow Marketing

7 Steps to Choose the Right Trade Show for Your Business

Wondering which trade show will help you achieve your business objectives? This post on trade show selection provides all the help you need.

More than 10,000 trade shows are held in the US every year. But which trade show is right for you?

From credibility to visibility, trade shows offer extensive business benefits.

But to achieve event objectives and generate impressive ROI and ROO, it is essential to be thorough with your trade show selection strategy.

[READ: How to Measure Trade Show ROI and ROO?]

So, how can exhibitors and event managers select the right trade show? Here’s a 7-step guide that can help-

1- Make Trade Show Objectives the Foundation of Your Research

I’ve often seen that most trade shows generally suit specific business objectives. Thus, outlining what you’d like to achieve by participating in the event is of utmost importance. Some of the most common objectives are-

  • Brand awareness
  • Launch new product/service
  • Generate leads
  • Meet existing/new clients
  • Boost local sales

Once the objective/s is selected, you can read trade show profiles to check whether they match your requirements.

For instance, a smaller regional show might be better if you’d like to boost your local business. Similarly, an industry-specific exhibition can be the one for you if your objective is sourcing suppliers or launching new products/services.

2- What is Your Trade Show Budget?

Your budget is also a vital consideration in trade show selection. Aspects like booth rental and event location will significantly impact your trade show budget.

For instance, a 10x10 booth at leading events such as CES in Las Vegas and OTC in Houston cost $20,000 or more. The same at smaller regional events costs $5,000-$8,000.

Similarly, staff travel, accommodation, and booth and equipment shipping costs will shoot up if the event is in another city.

So, once the objectives are finalized, work on your trade show budget before moving on to the next step.

3-To Be or Not To Be Industry-Specific?

It is often said that you should choose an industry-specific trade show for your exhibit. But this is not absolutely true for every business.

For instance, if you sell B2B products or services, let’s say AI-powered chatbots, it is not essential to only consider industry-specific events as you can target multiple industries by participating in local business exhibitions.

But if your AI-powered chatbot is exclusively designed for the finance or hospitality industry, you may choose events specific to your target industry.

4. Think About Your Trade Show Target Audience

Consumer demographic is key to choosing the right trade show. Once you’re aware of the audience you’d like to target at the event; you should try to learn more about the shows they regularly attend.

I’ve seen many new event managers just assuming that their target audience will definitely visit bigger industry events. But this, again, is not always true. A lot of your buyers might frequently be visiting non-industry-specific smaller events.

A simple and effective way to find out which events your target audience regularly attends is to ask your existing customers about the events they frequently visit.

You should also consider your distribution area and location of the event, as you cannot expect the majority of your target customers to travel several hundred miles to attend the event.

5. Utilize Your Detective Skills to Learn More About the Exhibition

By now, you should have at least a few event options in your mind. You can refine the list further by trying to learn more about these events and how well they match your objectives.

The official event website is a research gold mine for exhibitors. From event demographics, statistics, attendee list, past/current exhibitor list to booth availability/cost, you can find all the valuable information on these websites.

Your research will also make it easier to determine the number of competing brands you can expect at the event. If the competition is very high at an event, it might be wise to consider another option. However, higher competition could also signal event popularity among your target audience. So choose carefully. 

6. Evaluate Media Opportunities at the Trade Show

Apart from the trade show itself, what other marketing opportunities are available at the event? Will the press and top influencers attend the event? Will the organizer allow you to hold a press conference?

If you're launching a new product or service, media exposure can definitely help.  

You can ask the organizer for last year’s list of media attendees and a list of media professionals registered for the current year. If you’re aiming for press coverage, ensure that you get in touch with the media early to let them know about your business.

7. Check the Available Booth Spaces

Now that you're only left with 2-3 choices, you can make the final decision by checking the available booth spaces. Reserving the right booth space early on is critical to your success at the event. This is also one of the reasons why you should start planning the event in advance.

[READ- Trade Show Planning Guide for Event Managers]

Some areas on a trade show floor generally receive more traffic than others. Here’s a list of the best locations to set up your booth-

  • Near the entrance
  • Corners
  • Intersections
  • Close to cafe and restrooms
  • Near major show attractions

You can find the floor plan and current availability on the official event websites. Try to avoid reserving a space sandwiched between several booths or anything at the back of the trade show floor.

Also, it is generally wise not to be in close proximity to your competitors. You can talk to the event organizer to know more about the businesses that have reserved booths close to yours.

What are the Biggest Trade Shows in the US?

Now that you know how to choose a trade show, here is a list of some of the biggest events in the United States. 

A table of popular trade show events list in USA along with their location , type of trade show and number of exhibitors and trade show attendees.
(Information collected from online sources. Refer official event website for the latest details.)

Ready to Choose a Trade Show?

Trade shows can offer vast benefits, but attending only ones that best match your requirements and specific objectives is essential. Once you're done with trade show selection, you should then move on to other vital components of your trade show plan.

For instance, you’ll need a solid engagement strategy to keep the booth visitors involved with your booth. Booth activities such as trivia games can help you in this endeavor.

Visit our latest work section to learn more about trade show gamification and how our custom booth trivia games can help you get closer to your objectives.

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