Find out Entry Costs before choosing the right Exhibition

People who have to pay to visit an exhibition tend to be more invested in getting something from it and in my opinion, tend to buy more or be more real buyers. If something is free entry, it tends to have less value and whilst you will probably get a higher number of visitors, you will also get a lot more “tyre kickers” who are just there for a day out and not real buyers.

Another consideration with consumer shows is that if you are offering any promotional gifts or giveaways on your stand, you are likely to see these dwindle very quickly at shows like this and you may struggle to get a real return on them. Consumer shows, however, offer you a strong brand awareness opportunity and if you are building a consumer brand, this is a strong way to do it.

As an overview, here’s a multitude of advantages and disadvantages to attending a consumer show.

✓ Great for brand awareness and building

✓ Immediate sales tend to be quicker at consumer shows

✓ Opportunity to get promotional content through the national press

✓ A higher footfall

✓ Strong market research opportunities

✓ Large number of leads

✖ More staff needed to manage the exhibition stand due to higher footfall

✖ Larger quantity of promotional materials needed – more money

✖ Tend to be on weekends – staffing costs higher

✖ More “tyre kickers”

✖ Working through leads can be more time consuming after the show

The other option is what’s traditionally called a trade show, which is essentially a business to business show in a certain industry sector. If your company operates in the B2B market, then this is the place for you. Footfall tends to be lower, but the visitors are targeted to your specific sector.

B2B shows continue to grow as more companies are seeing the real benefit of meeting clients face to face. As the number of shows increases yearly it’s important you do the one that is closest allied to your industry and if your competitors are continuing to do these shows it’s because they work. I meet with many companies in the B2B sector who fear doing an exhibition because of the cost, which I completely understand. In this series, I’m looking at the many benefits outside of direct sales that exhibitions can offer and whilst they apply to all shows, the B2B exhibitions are where these advantages really come to the fore.

Again, let’s look at some advantages and disadvantages to see where we fit in all of this:

 Targeted specifically to your sector

✓ Visitors tend to have a very specific reason for attending

✓ Better quality leads

✓ Fewer timewasters

✓ It’s not all about exhibition stand size!

✖ Number of visitors tend to be lower

✖ Sales tend to evolve slower

✖ Lead quantity lower than consumer shows

✖ Need technically focused people on the exhibition stand

The key questions to ask in relation to the event are the target audience for the show. Obviously, the key driver for exhibiting is to meet the right clients and this may be trade focused or consumer-centric, so the ultimate decision is about who you want to meet. Both offer great opportunities for doing business given you have your objectives clearly in place.

A lot of companies place a strong emphasis or concern on who is exhibiting, and this makes sense, however, I wouldn’t necessarily use it as the key indicator of whether you should exhibit or not, but it can give a clear idea if it’s the industry show, and this is worth considering. A lot of companies enter the exhibition space thinking it’s a license to print money… I wish! It’s not and the companies who develop the best industry shows tend to be the ones who have a background in that specific sector through trade magazines or industry affiliation.

As a potential exhibitor at a trade show, I would always ask and find out what industry bodies are affiliated with the show. Industry bodies carry weight and also bring visitors. My own personal word of warning is that a new show with no industry support is going to struggle to really make its mark and deliver on the visitors which are your real value.

Exhibitions can be expensive but also offer great opportunities but just make sure you do your research and do the right one.

Stephan “The Exhibition Guy” Murtagh has 25+ years’ experience in the exhibition and events industry and has worked with many of the biggest organisers in the industry. As a qualified Fetac trainer, he set-up The Exhibition Guy to educate and train people on how to sell more, his website features module-based courses and coaching for real-life situations within the sector.

Contact The Exhibition Guy to learn how he can help manage and educate your exhibiting team.