Evaluating Trade Show Opportunities

Creating a list is the best place to start and it should be your starting point to help you clearly identify which trade show opportunities are most likely to create value. A side benefit to building this list is that it is also very useful for budgeting purposes – and for forcing trade-offs in organizations where marketing budgets are tight.  

Creating Your List

Start by creating a running list of relevant shows in your industry.  Relevance, in this case, is measured by your target audience: which shows do your target audience attend? We recommend starting your list in the following way:

  1. Identify which shows you have already been to or heard about
  2. Ask your customers which shows they like to attend
  3. Check which shows your competitors attend (most companies have an events page)
  4. Do a web search for trade shows in your industry

Tip: Don’t keep lists in your head, use our worksheet

It is important at this stage to not pre-judge or trim your list too much before even starting this analysis of trade show opportunities. In our experience, it can be just as important to know why you aren’t going to certain shows as it is to figure out which ones you want to go to (for when the CEO hears about a show from a friend and asks you why your company isn’t already registered).

Estimating Trade Show Value

The next step is estimating the amount of value you would get from each trade show and the approximating the cost necessary to achieve that value. If you need help, we’ve provided some examples and estimates in our free worksheet. Every industry is a little different, so it is important to adjust your values and not rely too heavily on trade show averages.

A spreadsheet that helps you evaluate trade show opportunities
Download our spreadsheet at https://ellivent.com/planning-worksheet

While research and actual figures are helpful, you should not necessarily be striving for a perfect estimate of cost or potential ROI at this point. Your goal should be to create an equal playing field for evaluating all of your events. We are simply looking for the best set of options. Even if all of your events have a negative ROI estimate. The “best of” list are the shows that you will want to test first when you have enough budget to start testing trade shows.

Next, learn how to estimate the cost of attending a trade show >

This article is part of our ebook “Building a Better Trade Show”. Download our free ebook today.

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