Should You Sign Up For A Tradeshow Booth?

Making a decision on whether to participate in a conference or trade show can be difficult.  Organizers may show you charts outlining all of the amazing benefits.  You may feel pressured to respond because of an early bird deadline that is about to expire.  There are only x number of spots left and you don’t want to miss out!

Spa Sisters Display

Spa Sisters Display

Exhibiting at conferences can be a wonderful way to promote your business.  “The opportunity to interact with clients and hear their immediate feedback to our products continues to be the main reason why we do shows,” says Kerri Foster Roberts and Tricia Foster-Mohan of the Spa Sisters.

Lois Ward, of goodlines Décor echoes this sentiment.  “In addition to great sales volume, participating in the One of a Kind Christmas show confirmed what my most popular products are and provided further insight into the exact types of customers they appeal to.”

While there are lots of positives, there are also significant financial costs that need to be considered.  Not to be ignored are the demands placed on you and other staff.  Leading up to the trade show you may have to significantly increase production of your products, preparing your booth will take time and then there are the long hours of the show itself.

To determine if you should sign up consider the following questions.

Will you reach your target customer? 

Review the characteristics of your target customer.  Are they male or female?  Approximate age range?  Income level?  Education level?  Where do they live?  What interests and hobbies do they have?  Will you find lots of your target customers at this event or just a few?  More sophisticated events should be able to provide you with a demographic profile of their attendees.  Watch that your investments of money and time are comparable to how many target customers you expect to reach.  If you won’t be reaching your target market, don’t be an exhibitor.

How successful do you expect the event to be? 

Is this an event with many years of success or is it just starting out?  What efforts will the organizers take to promote the event?  Does the event offer an exciting experience to attendees such as a keynote speaker or a variety of workshops?  Have major sponsors been confirmed?  Look for events with a history of success or those with strong promotional efforts.

As Kerri and Tricia of the Spa Sisters note, “we look for shows that are well organized, well-publicized, and well-attended.  A show with a proven track record is much more likely to be successful for us.”

What is the true total cost? 

The most obvious cost is the initial fee for the booth space.  The other most significant cost will be your booth display that might include lighting, a backdrop, banner, signage, table cloth, shelving, etc.  (If you plan to re-use these materials you can divide their cost over the various events.)

You will also need marketing materials such as brochures, flyers and business cards.  The organizer should be able to provide an estimate regarding the number of attendees and then you will need to estimate how many of those may want to pick up your information.

As Lois Ward of goodlines Décor notes, “payment processing expenses also need to be considered – a point of purchase credit card device, credit card transaction fees and cash float.  From a comfort point of view I also invest in shoe insoles to combat standing on concrete floors all day.”

Other costs can include door prizes, meals, hotel accommodations, transportation and parking.  And although this isn’t a direct business related cost, assume you may do some personal shopping as well.

Are there added bonuses? 

Having a booth and meeting lots of potential new customers is great – but are there other ways you can market yourself?  Can you be featured in promotional material for the event?  If you provide a door prize will you be able to personally present it to the winner from the stage?  Can you be a workshop speaker?  The more bonuses there are the better.

Is there an alternative? 

Consider the alternatives to being an exhibitor.  Are there sponsorship opportunities?  Could you be a speaker without having a booth?  What if you attended and simply networked with other businesses and attendees?  If you feel you could realize similar benefits through other less costly alternatives then choose those.

Conferences and trade shows are often filled with energy and excitement.  They offer a great way to promote products and services.  Just remember to choose carefully to ensure your time and money are wisely spent.

 

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