The Marketing Bureau

Specialist Marketing & Communications Resourecs



To Show Or Not To Show?

That is always the question as marketers embark on a path to developing an annual marketing plan. Tradeshows can be expensive and the ROI is not always obvious. In fact, most companies make at least one of the following mistakes....

Attending tradeshows no longer relevant because "you always have" or attending too many trade shows (and therefore spreading their event budgets too thin)

Ignoring conference sponsorships because they're "too small" a venue

Not properly training the booth staff

Not having a complete promotional strategy that includes pre, during, and post show activities

In addition to acting as a lead generation tool and a product launch venue, trade shows can provide you with the opportunity to show the market you are solid and professional, while allowing you to have one-on-one interactions with customers, partners, and the media.

If you are considering tradeshows in your marketing mix, there are some critical things to consider as you plan and implement your event strategy:

Make a list of all of the key tradeshows and conferences in your industry  and evaluate if you should even be attending. Do your customers attend this show? Is your target audience going to be attending? Specifically, is the event catered specifically for your target audience? Too often a company's target audience is only a small percentage of the event's attendee profile, which minimizes the value that venue has to your company's bottom line. Are your competitors exhibiting? Is the press that covers your industry attending? If the answers to these questions are a resounding yes, then you should consider attending in some capacity.

And don't discount smaller conferences or venues just because of their size. Conferences are often not as flashy as the larger industry tradeshows, but they're usually less expensive to participate in and are definitely more targeted in their attendees, as they're usually topical in nature. Consider replacing an industry tradeshow participation with multiple regional conferences that are more targeted to your audience. This might allow you to afford a stronger promotional strategy around your presence.

When in doubt, visit the show as an attendee and decide if exhibiting at the next one still makes sense for you.

Set a clear goal for your participation. Too often companies exhibit at shows with no specific goals in mind. Or, perhaps they have set so many goals, their expectations become unreasonable. Make a list of the goals you hope to achieve and then rank them in order of importance. For example, do you plan to write sales orders, study the competition, generate leads, meet with current customers, gain press coverage, launch a new product, or gain market awareness? The size of booth space you reserve, its design and layout, and how you staff the booth relies heavily on the goals you set and the priority you place on them.

Develop a show plan that accounts for pre, during, and post show activities. The biggest mistake we see companies make with their tradeshow participation is not creating a plan that accounts for all three of these components, with the biggest neglect being the post follow up. All three of these areas need to be carefully planned to make the most of your participation. There are a lot of details and strategy that goes into making tradeshows a success. Determining and integrating your logistical AND promotional details for pre, during, AND post activities is critical to a positive ROI.

Tradeshow success starts by choosing only those events that specifically and tightly target your audience so that you can afford to dominate the promotional opportunity. Being clear about your goals and prioritising what you most want to achieve from your participation will help you design the best program. And putting together a comprehensive pre, during, and post show plan for every event you choose to participate in ensures that your identified goals are being addressed and achieved. If you haven't the time or resources to meet all three of these objectives, you're better off skipping the trade show circuit for now.

Take some time to answer the important question: To Show...or NOT to show? And if the answer is "to show" then get started on your plan!

First Published on Go To Market Strategies


Let us know your thoughts
Captcha Image