10 ways to choose the right exhibition for your business


Which exhibition is right for your business?

So you’ve decided you’d like to exhibit. What should you do next? With hundreds of exhibitions happening all over the world each week it can be daunting trying to find the right one. Several factors need to be taken into account before you book your space at an expo. Ignoring just one of these steps could see your return on investment (ROI) falling short. Planning, and knowing which trade show is best for your business, is a direct route to hosting a successful exhibit.

10 ways to Choose the Right Exhibition for your Business

In this article, you will find the ten tips and strategies needed to make sure you choose the right exhibition to showcase your brand.

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1. Set Objectives

Before you start researching the best exhibitions for you, you must understand your business’s aims and objectives. What are you trying to achieve by exhibiting?

Your objectives may be:

  • To generate leads or sales
  • To raise awareness about your company
  • B2B marketing and networking
  • To launch a new product or service
  • To strengthen relationships with customers

Defining your objectives and outlining your intentions is key to deciding which expo is right for your business. Every trade show is different and therefore attracts a different audience. If your objective is to generate leads you might find a larger exhibition more beneficial as there is higher footfall. On the other hand, if your objective is to raise awareness about your business you might prefer a smaller exhibition that gives you more opportunities to connect with customers.

2. Develop a Budget

Once you have outlined your objectives for the exhibition it is time to develop a budget. The biggest venues in the UK charge £300-£350 per square meter, which means even a small expo stand space could cost you upwards of £3,000. Smaller shows cost much less but attract a smaller crowd.

The amount that you spend on your stand space could be completely wasted if you don’t invest in your exhibition stand. You want something bold that attracts attention to draw in the crowds, therefore it is worth investing what you can. Expect to pay more for a good quality stand than you have done for your floor space. An exhibition stand to fill a £3,000-floor space would cost, in the region of, £5,000.

This is key to running a successful exhibition. Many first time exhibitors aren’t getting the ROI that they were expecting down to a lack of investment and experience. It is possible to reduce costs by purchasing pull-up banners or alternative signage and placing that onto your floor space. This type of display does not attract crowds and does not give you the authority needed to generate sales within your industry. One of the biggest mistakes a business can make is underspending on their exhibition stand. This kind of mistake will not only damage your ROI but make the initial floor space investment irrelevant.

As well as the floor space and stand you can expect to incur other expenses such as stand dressing and decoration, lighting, power points, furniture, sales literature, staff training, travel, food and accommodation. Again, these costs can vary depending on whether you buy or rent your stand and how far in advance you organise the trip.

3. Research your Options

At this stage, you are aiming to make a list of all the potential shows your business would be likely to attend. Trade Fair Dates and EventsEye are good places to start when compiling your list, but you should include further research to ensure you are not missing any important and relevant trade shows.

Your aim should be to gather as much information as possible about each expo. This should include the events statistics, attendee numbers, demographics, and previous participants. There are several ways to go about conducting research. You can use:

  • internet search;
  • word of mouth;
  • LinkedIn;
  • industry-specific publications;
  • or subscribe to a venues mailing list.

By using your business objectives and budget to filter the results you should be left with a handful of exhibitions that suit your objectives. You can categorise your list of trade shows by price, size, country, industry, or date to make it easier to decide which one to exhibit at.

4. Consider your Audience

Correctly identifying your consumer demographic is key to running a successful marketing campaign. You are looking into which exhibition is best for your business, but what you need to ask yourself is which exhibition is best for your audience.

The two largest vaping expos in the UK are The Vaper Expo and Vape Jam. Although both trade shows are targeting decision-makers from the same industry, the slight difference in focus means that they attract different audiences. Vape Jam has introduced seminars and workshops to attract a B2B clientele. The Vaper Expo is open to the general public as well as industry professionals, so you could reach a different audience altogether.

Studies show that 40%-60% of attendees will come from within a 200-mile radius, but they aren’t only visiting big industry events. Your most important customers could regularly attend smaller expos, which is why it is essential to conduct first hand research. Ask your customers which exhibitions they are visiting this year, and guarantee your business a booth space at an event that you know your target audience is attending.

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5. Know your Venues

 You would be forgiven for thinking that ExCel London is the largest venue in the UK. Although popular for its central location, it is smaller than the National Convention Centre located in Birmingham. A large proportion of expos take place at one of these two venues, but there are other events held all over the UK including Olympia London, Manchester Central, Bournemouth International Centre, SECC Glasgow and many more. This year there will be over 260 exhibitions that span across more than 25 industries and many smaller shows that are not industry-specific.

Often it is worth considering international trade shows. Remember, most attendees are willing to travel 200+ miles to visit particular trade shows. There are major exhibition venues based across Europe such as Hanover Fairground, Messe Dusseldorf, RAI Amsterdam, Messe Berlin, as well as locations across the globe.

You should not make any firm decisions on an exhibition based on the venue, it is much more about where your target audience is going to be. On the other hand, the location of a trade show could significantly impact your expenses. Travel, accommodation, and food costs will vary according to the venue and location.

6. Look at Exhibition History

A large majority of these events have been going for some time and have built a reputation for themselves. The Anuga Food Fair is held every other year at the Cologne Messe and is the world’s largest and most important food and beverage exhibition. Throughout 100 years they have built a social media following and tens of thousands of returning visitors and exhibitors. It is their reputation that keeps people coming back.

Deciding to exhibit at a brand new show can be riskier as it has had less time to gain trust and respect within the industry. The reputation of the exhibition aligns itself with your brand, so it is worth taking a look at the history of the event.

You can also keep an eye out for a particular trade show’s list of exhibitor’s. These lists provide you with information on all of the businesses that will be appearing at that expo. This means that you can find out which exhibitions your competitors, rivals, and target market will be attending. Identifying an events history and exhibitor list will give you enough information to decide whether or not you want your business to be represented there.

7. Consider the Timing

Timing is crucial if you are hoping to make a significant return on investment (ROI). Getting the timing right can not only maximise your ROI but can cut your budget in half as well. The first thing to consider is your customers buying patterns – is it a good time of year for your business? Do you usually see an influx in sales at that time of year? Will you have something new and exciting to debut? Understanding your audience and their spending habits will enable you to consider the timings of your exhibition to maximise ROI.

It is also important to consider the timing if you want to save money. If you have committed to an exhibition but are keen to attend another one at the same time, bear in mind the additional costs of creating or renting a second exhibition stand.

The Prestige Events System that we use here at Quadrant2Design is ideal for anyone looking to attend multiple trade shows. The modular, reusable, and interchangeable design makes it easy for us to reduce costs and manage the logistics of simultaneous stands.

Finally, pay attention to other events going on in that area (even if they have nothing to do with your industry). An influx of people visiting a certain area can cause travel and accommodation prices to increase, making the overall trip more expensive for your business.

8. Check Space Availability

By this point, you probably have a rough idea of which industry exhibition you would like to attend. You need to start looking at space availability. Each booth location is different, and that can hugely affect the amount of traffic that your exhibit attracts.

Furthermore, they are all different shapes and sizes so you need to consider that when buying your exhibition stand. Modular stands are a brilliant idea for businesses looking to visit multiple trade shows and have booked different floor space sizes.

A bad space at the right show will make it a bad show for you. If you are going to invest in exhibiting, you need to make sure you are getting the best possible space.

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9. Evaluate Press Opportunity

Expos are a fantastic opportunity to introduce your business to prospective customers, gain leads, and build relationships. In some cases, the event itself will offer free PR and promotion through their website and social media channels. Any media exposure can boost your ROI but to gain the most relevant and effective press coverage you should contact registered media attendees with information about your business.

You can also ask the exhibition organisers for the press list from previous years, and get your foot in the door before your competitors. An industry event with few registered media attendees isn’t necessarily pointless as your target audience could be in attendance. Press opportunities boost your potential to succeed and should be considered if you are yet to make your mind up about exhibiting at an event.

10. Try to Attend the Show as a Guest

If you are planning the event far enough in advance then it is highly recommended that you visit the exhibition as a guest. This will give you an insight into the types of businesses that exhibit, the general audience and expectations, the booth layout, and the flow of footfall. This will prepare you for negotiating your space and designing an exhibition stand that appeals to the audience.

Conclusion: Which Exhibition is right for my Business?

As you can see, this is not a ‘one shoe fits all’ kind of scenario. Following these nine steps will enable you to carefully select a trade show that can deliver a significant return on investment. The nine steps to finding the best exhibition for you are:

  1. Set Objectives
  2. Develop a Budget
  3. Research Options
  4. Consider your Audience
  5. Look at Exhibition History
  6. Know your Venues
  7. Consider the Timing
  8. Check Space Availability
  9. Evaluate Press Opportunity
  10. Try to Attend the Show as a Guest

The key is in the preparation and planning. Do your research, make sure you know your stuff, and turn up with an outstanding exhibition and you are bound to do great.

Found this guide useful? Take a look at our other guides.

Previous: 9 Reasons Why You Should Exhibit at a Trade Show     

Next: How to Organise Your Exhibition Event

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