Sarah Riley, one of our Account Directors, says one of the top questions she gets from clients is whether it’s worth attending trade shows.

“Trade shows can be one of the most effective tools for reaching potential and existing customers,” says Sarah. “That said, it’s not worth attending unless you have a clear sense of what you want to achieve from your attendance, and defined steps to get there.”

With that in mind, Sarah has offered the following questions to ponder when you’re considering trade events each year:

Who do you hope to reach?

It pays to identify the specific demographics you’re hoping to reach because of your attendance. Is this the kind of show they would attend and, if so, what would draw them in?

What is the aim?

Too many businesses attend a show with no goal except to generally “create buzz” or “broaden outreach”. Setting definite goals that you want to achieve is what makes attending a show an asset to your business, rather than a potentially costly investment with little to show for it.

What is your follow-up?

Following on from the previous question, how does your post-show planning line up? For example, if your primary aim of attendance is to capture data, what will you then do with the data? Without due follow-up, high show traffic can still result in very little return for your business.

How can you drive footfall?

If you’ve attended a trade show, try and recall some of the more memorable stands. Chances are they had something that made them unique, in a sea of generic and bland set-ups that can be the norm. It doesn’t have to be bigger or more expensive – there just needs to be a clear reason for people to stop and engage.

Can things be done differently?

Once you’ve clearly set out what you hope to achieve, ask if a trade stand is the best way to get there. There are always other options: for example, sponsorship can create brand awareness, or holding a talk can educate consumers on a specific topic. Perhaps something more targeted like a press launch or social media campaign could be more beneficial.

Sarah offers her most crucial piece of advice for those who do decide to attend a show: “Create a destination. That’s the number one pitfall I see exhibitors fall into. Make your stand one that visitors will seek out, and don’t try to include too many messages. Simplicity is often the key to success.”

How can you drive traffic – and results – at your next trade show? What other strategies might drive better results? Get in touch.