Which Trade Show Should You Exhibit At?

Which Trade Show Should You Exhibit At?

Jan 9th 2024

Whether you’re an eager startup or an industry-leading brand, a trade show can help you accomplish your goals and have a fun time doing it. But how do you know what trade show is a good fit for you?

Trade shows take place all across the country (and the world) on an ongoing basis, usually picking up in frequency during the spring and fall. With options everywhere all the time, it can be hard to determine which shows are worth your effort—it all comes down to picking a trade show that is relevant to your industry, is attainable with your company’s budgetary or scheduling restraints, and helps you meet your goals.

Let’s walk through each of those points in detail, discovering the helpful tips and tricks that can get you on the road to your next big show!

  1. Relevance to Your Industry
  2. Meeting Company Goals
  3. Budgetary & Scheduling Constraints

Relevance to Your Industry

First and foremost, a tradeshow search begins with identifying the shows that are most relevant to your services and customers—shows that are relevant to your market.

On the one hand, there are very general shows out there that accommodate for business across a wide range of industries—these include shows like the Consumer Electronics Show and the National Association of Broadcasters show, which have tens of thousands of visitors each year and feature everything from phone manufacturers to industrial designers to AI developers and everything in between.If your company would fit in at a show like that, that’s great!

For most other businesses, though, we recommend prioritizing shows that are as tailored to your industry as you can find. Of course, that doesn’t mean you want to go to a trade show so niche-oriented that you’re only pitted against service providers exactly like you, or so small that no one but the exhibitors show up!

Analyzing Your Peers…And Competition

One of the best ways to find out what trade shows are appropriate to you is to check up on businesses you consider ‘peers’ to your own, or even brands that you aspire to—what shows do they go to? Of course, any shows attended by your industry competitors are also worth taking a look at, but you’ll want to bring your A-game if you’re going to the same shows they are.

Your Company Goals

Once you’ve identified what shows are decent candidates for your industry, you’ll probably have at least a handful of shows left to choose from.

Next, try setting some concrete, specific goals for your business, if you haven’t already. There are plenty of reasons a business like yours will benefit from attending a trade show, but figuring out which of those reasons are most important to you is a crucial step for any exhibitor.

Employee Aspirations

Though it seems obvious, too many business owners forget how valuable their employees’ feedback is when considering their business goals—check in on your team! See what your employees are interested in getting out of a trade show.

Some of them may be more interested in developing industry connections, while others may want to learn more about emerging technologies in your field—that sort of info can be a huge help as you winnow down your list of trade show prospects.

Industry Networking

One of the main reasons businesses exhibit at shows is to see how the rest of their industry is doing—to meet people who provide services like theirs, or businesses that might help them solve a problem they can’t solve on their own.

If that’s you, you’ll want to find a trade show that has the sort of businesses you’ll want to connect with. Look for shows that might have interesting events, keynote speakers, or demonstrations—events like those could be the networking opportunities you’re looking for.

Meeting New Prospects & Selling Your Services

If sales and exposure are the biggest things your business needs, bigger trade shows might be the best choice for you. Check out trade shows with attendees in the tens of thousands, but keep in mind that you might have a harder time standing out amid all the noise.

Bigger, more sales-centric trade shows like these are where you’ll really need to put in the work (and the investment) to stand out (which is where trade show displays like ours come in handy).

If this is your goal, you’ll also need to do a lot of groundwork to prepare a good sales funnel for your booth visitors—make sure your product and team are show-ready, and make sure you have a strategy in place to capitalize on any leads you get while at the show (email campaigns are essential here!).

Your Trade Show Budget & Constraints

Once you’ve found your relevant trade shows and established your company’s goals for the endeavor, then comes the hard part—cutting out what just isn’t doable.

If your budget or time constraints don’t allow for a certain show, it should be easy to cut from your list of candidates, as painful as that might be.

Determine Your Timeline

It may seem counterintuitive, but we recommend taking a long look at your calendar before you take a look at your finances—if you go the other way around, there’s a good chance you might put down a deposit on a show you can’t even make!

When you’re planning for a trade show, you should be looking at shows a year out at least, and shouldn’t be making any commitments or purchases if the show is 9 months out or sooner. Of course, every trade show is different, so some may have more flexible timelines than others, but we generally start to see shows filling up and cutting off registration about 9 months from the day of.

Determine Your Budget

Of course, you want to have numbers in mind all throughout the trade show search, but we find that it’s actually somewhat easy to scale up/down your budget once you’ve set your trade show goals, rather than the other way around.

If your company’s goal is to learn more about your industry, or if you need to get to a show that’s coming up pretty quickly, then attending, rather than exhibiting, at a trade show is easily your best option, and that won’t cost an arm and a leg—first, you set your goal, then you figure out what’s attainable.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to make a statement at a large, highly influential show in your industry, that goal should inform your budget in the opposite way—carve out the necessary funds to be able to do what you need to do, even if that means paying more to stand out in a bigger, busier environment.

The Best Thing to Do? Visit Trade Shows

As long as you’ve got the time and money for it, the best way to determine the perfect trade show to exhibit at is to attend it first! If you’re thinking about exhibiting at a show down the line, consider visiting a few trade shows a year or two prior and get the lay of the land.

Figure out what shows are more relevant to your goals, limits, and services, and you’ll have a much easier time setting your sights on the perfect show for you.

Ready to Exhibit?

If you’ve got your sights on an upcoming show, take a look at Displayit’s catalog of trade show displays to see how you could make a statement!