India's Pioneer Media on TradeFairs

“Before You Hit The Venue” – Chapter 3 – Don’t Leave it to Chance – Book The Right Show

Stephan Murtagh, the Exhibition Guy in his book titled Before You Hit The Venue gives insights on all aspects of Exhibiting in an Exhibition.

The book will be published in TFT in a series for the benefit of its reader. Enjoy and do write back to us with your feedback.


Chapter 3 

Don’t Leave it to Chance – Book The Right Show

Like everything in life there are good and not so good products and services out there. Exhibitions are no different and it’s crucial that you pick the right one. If you are selling to the end consumer then it’s a consumer show so you will need to find out what the previous attendance at the show was, how long it had been running and important what re-book rate they have each year. This is a good yardstick as to how successful the show is. That’s not to say that I would write off a new show as in reality new shows are exciting for visitors and can often have a very strong footfall. Often with new shows you have a greater chance of getting the exact stand you want and as a big name may even have leverage with the stand price.

It’s also important with consumer shows to find out what the entry cost is. People who have to pay to visit an exhibition tend to be more invested in getting something from it and in my opinion, tend to buy more or be more real buyers. If something is free entry, it tends to have less value and whilst you will probably get a higher number of visitors, you will also get a lot more “tyre kickers” who are just there for a day out and not real buyers. Another consideration with consumer shows is that if you are offering any promotional gifts or giveaways on your stand, you are likely to see these dwindle very quickly at shows like this and you may struggle to get a real return on them. Consumer shows however offer you a strong brand awareness opportunity and if you are building a consumer brand, this is a strong way to do it.

Consumer Shows – Advantages

  • Great for brand building
  • Immediate sales tend to be quicker at consumer shows
  • Opportunity to get promotional opportunities through national press
  • Higher footfall
  • Strong market research opportunities
  • Larger number of leads

Consumer Shows – Disadvantages

  • More staff needed to manage stand due to higher footfall
  • Promotional materials needed far greater and ultimately more money
  • Tend to be on weekends – Staffing cost higher
  • More “tyre kickers”
  • Working through leads can be more time consuming

The other option is what’s traditionally called a trade show which is essentially a business to business show in a certain industry sector. If your company operates in the B2B market, then this is the place for you. Footfall tends to be lower, but the visitors are targeted to your specific sector. B2B shows continue to grow as more companies are seeing the real benefit of meeting clients face to face. As the number of shows increases yearly it’s important you do the one, that is closest allied to your industry and if your competitors are continuing to do these shows it’s because they work. I meet with many companies in the B2B sector who fear doing an Exhibition because of the cost and I get this but in the introduction to this book we looked at the many benefits outside of direct sales that shows can offer and whilst they apply to all shows, the B2B shows are where these advantages really come to the fore. Again, let’s look at some advantages and disadvantages to see where we fit in all of this…

Trade Show – Advantages

  • Targeted specifically at your sector
  • Visitors tend to have very specific reason for coming
  • Leads tend to be better qualified
  • Less time wasters
  • It’s not all about stand size

Trade Show – Disadvantages

  • Numbers of visitors tend to be lower
  • Sales tend to come slower
  • Lead quantity lower than consumer shows
  • Need for more technically focused people on the stand

The key questions to ask in relation to the event are about the target audience for the show. Obviously, the key driver for exhibiting is to meet the right clients and this may be trade focused or consumer centric, so the ultimate decision is about who you want to meet. Both offer great opportunities for doing business given you have your objectives clearly in place.

A lot of companies place a strong emphasis or concern on who is exhibiting, and this makes sense, however I wouldn’t necessarily use it as the key indicator of whether you should exhibit or not, but it can give a clear idea if it’s the industry show, and this is worth considering. A lot of companies enter the Exhibition space thinking it’s a license to print money…I wish! It’s not and the companies who develop the best industry shows tend to be the ones who have a background in that specific sector through trade magazines or industry affiliation. As a potential exhibitor at a trade show, I would always ask and find out what industry bodies are affiliated to the show. Industry bodies carry weight and also bring visitors. My own personal word of warning is that a new show with no industry support is going to struggle to really make its mark and deliver on the visitors which are your real value.

Exhibitions can be expensive but also offer great opportunities but just make sure you do your research and do the right one.

What Exhibition is the key industry leader in your market sector?

Deciding on Exhibition Checklist
Y N N/A Notes
Is this an existing Show?
Run more than twice?
New show?
If so, has the Organiser some credibility in this sector?
100 Exhibitors Plus?
5 competitors exhibiting?
Industry support/accreditation?
Is a magazine for this sector?
No clash with International show I attend?
Over 50% re-Book rate?