The hardest step to host a trade show booth can be deciding what show to exhibit at.

We get it.

With a variety of trade event options, it can be overwhelming.

Here are simple steps to choose the best place to have a trade show booth.

  1. Decide Your Trade Show WHY

    Before you do anything, decide: What is my goal for this trade show?

    Write out your trade show objectives. Maybe you are looking to raise company awareness, launch a new product or something else entirely. Name the specific aim(s).

  2. Decide the Type of Trade Show.

    Understand what will be best for your company: To attend a consumer trade show OR an industry trade show.

    *Consumer trade shows: These are prime if you are looking to spread awareness or launch a new offering for consumer goods and services.

    *Industry trade shows: This type of trade show is more ideal for reaching B-to-B trade show goals, connecting to what is latest in the industry and/or networking.

    A lot depends on your unique company and offerings. A B2B company probably won’t benefit much from a consumer trade show.

    For example, Qualcomm Snapdragon is a system suite on a chip. Essentially, this technology is used in mobile phones and tablets, which are then sold directly to consumers. So, is the average person who buys a smartphone the best target? Nope. It’s the mobile phone and tech companies themselves.

  3. Review the Potential Trade Show’s Audience

    Find out who the trade show attendees will be. To figure this out, see who has gone to past trade shows. Based on your trade show goals, are they going to be the people you want to be in front of?

    For example, if you want to set up demos with the owners of small companies, make sure that is who will be there.

    Also, notice if most attendees have buying power and if that matters. Any show worth its salt with have an exhibitor’s prospectus which will allow you to analyze the demographics of the show’s attendees. If the type of attendees they attract aligns to your target demographic, then there is a good chance that this show will be a nice fit for your company.

  4. Research the Trade Show History

    Dive into the history of the trade show. Look at its website. Review articles and publications that have covered it. Note what reputation the show has. What commentators said. See if if the overall feel and feedback resonates with you.

  5. Analyze past trade show exhibitors.

    Review who has exhibited at this trade show in the past. If they’re competitors, it may mean you’re in exactly the right place. Because if they are there, your mutual target market probably is, too. (Don’t get too nervous about that. Here’s How to Strategize at Trade Shows by Using the Competition.)

    See what companies you want to align with, too.

    If you want to step up your game and exhibit by some of the biggest companies in the industry, go to the trade shows where they are.

    In addition, reach out to a non-competitor that has done this show before and get their insights. Learning other exhibitors’ experience is the best way to get the “real goods” on the show in question.

  6. Review the fun stuff: Trade Show Cost and Budget.

    Know your budget for trade show exhibiting.
    Then, if a show meets the criteria in #1 - 5, find out about the fun part: The cost.

    See if it’s fit into your budget. If it’s a bit over, analyze the ROI very carefully to see if it might be worth it. (Want to play with a Trade Show ROI Calculator?)

    Very important: Do NOT forget to note the other costs that will come into play, such as travel for the team attending the trade show; creation, shipping and building your trade show booth; and so forth. Think about these elements now, so there are no surprises later!

  7. Make sure the timing is right.

    Just like planning a wedding, the time before a trade show goes far faster than we think. Make sure there is enough time to properly strategize and plan your exhibit, your pre-show strategy, traffic attracting mechanism, give-aways and the myriad of other details that go into planning.

    Here’s an easy way to do that. Follow The Ultimate Checklist for Trade Show Exhibitors.