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10 Questions To Ask When Planning To Exhibit At A Trade Show

Updated: Feb 27

No matter how large or small your business is a trade show can provide a great way of increasing your brand awareness and getting your product in front of a key target audience. However not all shows are right for your product and not all spaces are going to yield that magic ROI we all crave. In this article we explore some of the key questions you should ask before signing a contract to exhibit at your next trade fair.


1. Why am I participating in this show?

There are a number of reasons why you might want to participate in a particular show: launching certain products or a new concept, building your brands reputation or nurturing relationships. Whatever your reason is, make sure you communicate your motive and ensure it is in line with your business strategy. Contact some of your key customers and find out if they are attending and get their feedback on the show to see if it fits your needs.


2. Do I have everything organised for the show?

We all know about the 7 P’s of preparation, and it is true that preparing for a trade show well in advance will serve you well. Signing up early can give you discounted rates or better payment terms. On the flip side of things, contracting an exhibition stand builder too late can mean you pay more because you have to expedite goods and materials which puts pressure on suppliers and limits their purchasing options.


3. How much space will I need to exhibit my products?

Most people focus on having as bigger stand as possible, and whilst that might be nice to have, its not always possible – and not always necessary. If you have a smaller booth, put your energy into doing everything you can to capture contact information and follow up leads. If you can't have meaningful conversations on a smaller stand, having a larger space won't be the solution.


4. Does it matter where I am located?

In short – yes! But there are different views on this. Some people don’t want to be placed next to an extravagantly designed trade show stand because they feel it can be distracting, whereas others feel it is a bonus because it drives traffic into the area. It's not always ideal to be situated directly next to your competitor, but a complimentary product is a bonus. Make sure you examine floorplans and know the layout of the fair to ensure you are not in a low traffic zone – all shows have them and you need to avoid it at all costs!


8. Am I familiar with the location and venue?

When you’re planning to exhibit at a show, it’s important to know about the city you’re visiting, as well as the rules and regulations of the convention centre, including the associated unions and contractors. Having an experienced Stand Designer & Builder like ESM UK will help you greatly with this. We take the strain of dealing with the exhibition show organisers when developing your stand to ensure you meet all the safety and legislative criteria during the build.


6. Who am I targeting during the show?

Not all shows attract a highly targeted audience, some attract visitors from a number of industries, so it is important you are clear on who you want to speak to and what you want to show them. Try to put yourself in their shoes and think of what might attract your target audience to your stand and what would engage them. Some companies get too stuck on the number of people who attend a stand, rather than the quality of leads. Try to determine a target number of leads you need to make a show successful and then ask the organisers questions about their visitors to ascertain whether you will achieve your target or not.


7. How am I going to measure success?

It's not just about counting leads, it's about all marketing touchpoints at the show, so determining your key metrics is important. How many pre-show appointments did you make and how many were kept? How many orders were placed at the show? How many samples did you give away? How many people recognised your brand or products? Did you get any Press/Journalists stop by? Having a key list of metrics will help you review and plan your next show, ensuring you consistently improve your ROI.


8. Should I sponsor events in conjunction with the exhibition?

There may be opportunities for attending a trade show as a sponsor rather than an exhibitor. Check out the opportunities for presenting at in show seminars or sponsorship opportunities which compliment your brand. Most shows offer additional sponsorship initiatives and its important you evaluate each one to determine whether they are right for you – do they increase your brand awareness where it matters or will your branding go unnoticed?


9. Am I communicating my presence to my customers?

Keep your customers informed about your activities! Social media portals can be used in the run up, during and after every trade show. In addition to sending out press releases to trade publications and sending invites to customers, use social media to take your customers on a journey with you and get them excited about what they might see at your stand. Use prizes, gifts and incentives to draw them to your stand. Take videos during the fair and post them online with a running commentary of the day to engage your followers and maintain an ongoing conversation.


10. Do I have a post-show plan?

With the substantial monetary outlay for attending a show, it is prudent to ensure you are actively monitoring the event after it ends. If you don’t respond to your leads after the show finishes, your competitors will, so having a plan for following up with people immediately after the exhibition ends is crucial to its success. This may be ensuring you send out information on time, making appointments or processing orders – keep up the pressure and you will find your efforts get rewarded.

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