You need to select the best shows for attending and exhibiting. The shows you attend may be completely different from the ones where you want to exhibit. But always attend the shows that are within your industry, especially if you’re not exhibiting. You need to know what’s new, who’s there, and what’s happening. Other shows and conventions to attend are ones that you have an interest in, can learn from, or may buy from.
If you have a limited budget, make a list of all the tradeshows available and then arrange them in your order of importance and interest. Obviously, exhibiting will cost a lot more than just being an attendee. Contact the show management or promoter and request information on attending, exhibiting, or both. They will be happy to send it to you quickly. You may be able to find the basics, including the cost, at their website, but look at the printed material as well.
If you’ve been in business for a year or more and you’ve sent reply cards for product information, many tradeshows will find you. Unexpected information will come in the mail three to six months prior to the show dates, and usually follow-up info comes after that.
If there are three shows at which you would like to exhibit, but you can only afford one this year, here’s an idea to reach the most attendees. As people enter a tradeshow or convention, they fill out a registration form that usually includes a profile. After the event is over, these are entered into a computer, and the list is available for sale by the show management or the promoter in about a month. You can purchase these lists and do your own mailing to the same attendees you would’ve seen at the show. Send a personalized letter starting out with, “Sorry we missed you at the widget show…” and offer an after-the-show special or unique sale. Most recipients will think you were there but they didn’t have time to stop at your booth.
You need to get this type of mailing out ASAP, while the event is still fresh in their minds. If you get a good response from a show list, you may want to consider exhibiting at that show next time.
If you’re just starting out and can’t afford to exhibit at any shows this year, buy all the lists, do a mailing to each one, and monitor the response. The results will tell you which show will be best for you the following year or when you can fit it in your budget.
When you attend a show that you’re considering for an exhibit, look at the people walking down the aisles and see what booths are the busiest. Are they competitors of yours, and do you see any of your customers there? Talk to people at the food courts and see why they came and what they’re looking for. Exchange business cards (which you should have plenty of) and call prospects right after the show.
To find a list of tradeshows and conventions, along with contact information, you can try www.biztradeshows.com or www.tsnn.com, or you can simply search the word “tradeshow” on your Internet search engine and find a site that lists all the coming shows. Then search their site by keyword to find the ones that interest you.
If you’re looking for smaller local or state shows, check with your Chamber of Commerce, convention/visitors bureau, or state business association. If you want information on a specific show from an association group, check the Encyclopedia of Associations in your library reference department. The convention date and contact information will be listed in the directory.
Selecting the right shows will help you budget your available investment and reap the maximum rewards. So do your homework before you write the deposit check.