Attending conferences and exhibitions is a common event for most professionals. The 2019 U.S. B2B trade show market was 15.5 billion dollars, and that only represents the business-to-business segment of tradeshows. However, participation in tradeshows, exhibitions, and conferences is not limited to just attendance. These shows provide several opportunities for businesses to share their message and are therefore a part of the promotional mix. However, there are many considerations to take into account when deciding on which exhibitions and conferences would be most beneficial.

Like any marketing decision, your goals and objectives should drive your decision to participate in a conference. You should understand how participation in a conference will help you achieve your objective. For example, are you attending a conference to learn the latest industry news, network with prospects, introduce a new product, position yourself (and your business) as a thought leader, or increase sales? No matter what your objective is, your participation should have a purpose.

For example, Acme Widgets manufactures widgets used in the production of electronic vehicles. Natalie, the marketing director at Acme Widgets, has a marketing objective of increasing brand awareness of a new product, “The Everlasting Gizmo.” Therefore, Natalie would want to consider any conference or exhibition in which the potential for introducing the new product to a large enough audience of key participants in the electronic vehicle market is present.

Choosing conferences, exhibitions, and tradeshows:

As trade shows typically target a specific industry, consider the type of people who would be most interested in your brand or project. To do this, you can request information about a particular show’s attendees, including key demographics.

For Acme Widgets, Natalie would like to attend a conference made up of engineers who design electric vehicles. Natalie has identified that these engineers are either responsible for purchase decisions or can recommend using Natalie’s product, making them an ideal audience for Natalie’s presentation.

What level of prominence does this event have?

Businesses can increase brand awareness by attending events that generate the most press. In addition, the press can create free publicity for your company and product by carrying positive reviews and stories about their experience with you.

Attendees may also have the opportunity to interact with possible sponsorship opportunities. Since tradeshows are often expensive to organize, many hire larger companies to sponsor the event. These sponsorships are helpful to individual marketers who wish to use sponsorship opportunities in the future.

How much money are you willing to spend to participate in an event?

We have seen many businesses spend thousands of dollars participating in an event in which the results are not worth the high cost. Therefore, consider the cost of different levels of participation against the benefit.

In our fictional example, Natalie may consider creating a booth to showcase “The Everlasting Gizmo” instead of sponsoring or speaking at an event because she has a smaller company.

Where is the event located?

The location of an event influences many of the other factors we have discussed. For instance, 50% of trade show attendees come from a 200-mile radius of the show’s site, so your audience is most likely from the same area that the event is.

For Natalie, she would not want to attend a conference in Germany because her market is in North America.

How large (or small) is the event?

If your objective is to reach as many potential buyers as possible, then the size of the conference is a key consideration. However, even a small conference could generate significant press coverage of a new product announcement given the appropriate level of prominence.

If you are a small or new company, we suggest avoiding large exhibitions because you’ll get swallowed up! Instead, participate in small venues that allow for personal conversation and networking.

Based on Natalie’s objective, she may want to attend a smaller, more prominent event to reach specific industry experts.

Was it worth it? Measuring success

When you first defined your objectives, you should also define measurable outcomes that you can use to determine the success of an event. For example, some metrics could include the number of leads gathered, number of meetings set, booth impressions, media impressions earned, etc. Even if the outcomes are not what you had hoped for, this information is beneficial when considering future possibilities.

If you have any questions regarding suitable exhibitions and conferences for your company, don’t hesitate to contact the Absolute Marketing Solutions team for assistance.