By Katie Mientka

According to American Express Global Business Travel, trade shows were the single most popular type of business meeting activity in both North America and Europe.  That’s as true for those in the design and construction industry as it is any other vertical. Understanding whether trade shows are the right way to maximize your budget and how to select the perfect one to reach your target audience is key before you book a booth.  

Is It Worth It?

For most companies, trade shows are the right opportunity. One Exponents study found that 90% of the attendees at trade shows were there to learn about the products and services that would fulfill their requirements. Four out of five attendees are authorized to make buying decisions at the show, according to the same study. For you, that can translate to qualified leads who are ready to make a purchase.

As important as those leads are from a trade show, they can typically offer you additional benefits too. They’ll let you take a closer look at the other construction and design professionals that market similar services. They may also mean press coverage you may not otherwise have access to. You can also usually pay an added entry fee for product and service awards that could mean a level of validation customers will really love.

How to Choose the Right Trade Show

If you’re convinced trade shows are worth your time, the next step then is to select the right one. With hundreds of options both in the United States and abroad, it can be tough to select one that is the perfect fit. Start with some research. Look at the speakers and attendees, as well as the lists of the other exhibitors. Think about who you want to reach and what step you want your target audience to take. Match those objectives to the shows available. If possible, visit the show the year before. Is it a valuable outlet for a company like yours? Also, think about location. You’ll want to factor this in for two reasons. First, most attendees won’t travel more than 200 miles to attend a show. If your distribution area is limited, you only want to select shows within that radius. Almost as important, though, is the travel costs involved. You’ll not only want to consider the cost of travel for personnel, but also for the equipment you’ll need at the show.

When You Book A Spacetrade show

Once you’ve decided on a trade show, the next step is to start planning. A good trade show can mean months of pre-planning. Start with some goals. What do you hope to get out of the show and how will you measure success? That can help lead you to the right booth design. After all, if you’re showcasing a new product, that needs to be the first thing individuals see. If you’re hoping for one-on-one meetings, you’ll want to ensure you have enough space to do so.

Then begin promoting your show presence. Find the social media information from the show and incorporate it into your own marketing plan. Finally, train your staff to run the booth effectively. Share your overall goals and help them learn more about how to best engage visitors.

While you and your employees are at the show, this is your opportunity to build brand awareness, so make the most of it. Take photos and videos and post them in real time on social media, encouraging your followers to stop by your booth. Better yet, do a Facebook Live video demonstration, and be sure to promote it ahead of time on your social channels. Bonus points if you can involve trade show attendees. A thoughtful and distinctive giveaway or a new product launch can make your booth memorable as well.

Promotion doesn’t stop after the show is over either. Be sure to add any quality photos or videos to your website, write a blog or two summarizing the experience, and most importantly, follow up on your leads. Qualifying leads at the trade show is often the main objective of exhibiting, so reach out to them with a well-planned campaign. Trade shows can be the ideal way to market your company, but there are a lot of steps involved in the process.