Participating in a trade show can help you achieve many goals at once. Building your brand awareness, generate sales, generate leads, launch a new product, investigate your competition, gain media exposure and open new relationship channels are just a handful of the possibilities. You can learn more about your industry, your competitors and your customers in just a few days at a trade show than you can in months or even years of just researching!

With so many trade shows happening all over the country on any given day, how do you evaluate a shows potential in reaching a ROI?

There are two main types of shows:


  1. Consumer Shows: This is the type of show where you will want to make sales. Like a pop-up flea market, consumer shows are marketed to product consumers who are often seeking special pricing or promotions. If you are looking to reach consumers directly and are willing to discount your products to compete with other booths, this is the show for you.

  1. Trade Only Shows: Typically attended by buyers, planners, media etc., Trade Only shows are geared towards featuring your brand to a captured audience of others in your industry. Trade only shows are networking events that allow you to present your brand amongst your competition, a great way to show your industry how you stand out.

Here are some ideas to help you decide which type of trade show is right for you:

  1. Know who the audience will be: Most trade show producers can provide you with metrics and reports on previous years that contain everything from audience count to the contact information of each company’s trade show coordinators. You will also want to know what the producers of the show are doing to advertise the trade show. How far in advance do they advertise? What media outlets does the trade show use?

  1. Know the history of the show: How many years has the show been active? How many cities does the show produce annually? Who has exhibited there before? What events or speakers has the show featured in the past?

  1. Know what perks are offered: Does the show offer specialized or private seminars? How can your brand participate in such events? Does the trade show offer intimate networking events? Are there any post-show activities for representatives to mingle? Do not be afraid to ask the show producers for anything you can think of to make your exhibition experience better!

  1. Know who will be exhibiting: How many of your competitors will be showing? Did any of the company’s from last year decline participation this year?

Trade shows have many potential pitfalls for first timers. Don’t rush into the decision, be strategic. Know exactly what it will cost to participate and leave a cushion in your budget for last minute hurdles.


About the author: William Hall is a seasoned business coach specializing in branding, social media and promotional events. William has spent his career teaching businesses of all sizes how to stand out in the crowd while using marketing dollars most effectively. His clients are continuously thankful for his out-of-the-box ideas that lead to increased revenue, more clicks and a bigger online presence.