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A Guide to Trade Show Event Selection

November 27, 2018  - Tips for Small Business
image of people walking inside the lobby of a trade show event

Trade shows provide the opportunity for small and large businesses to increase the visibility of their products, services and brands to current and potential customers. When considering options to increase your company's exposure and showcase products, there are two important aspects to trade show selection. This two-part blog post will highlight key considerations and best practices for selecting the shows to exhibit and selecting the location of your booth at the shows.

Part 1: Trade Show Event Selection

illustration showing gears connecting the parts of event selection

Step 1: Research Event Opportunities

The first step in trade show selection begins once you have identified your target market and are ready to research events that will enable you to match your goals with your budget.

In today's digital world there are six main sources to focus your online search to assist in developing a list of potential trade shows of interest:

  1. By industry for target markets: search for specific trade show listings. Click here for an industry conference calendar example
  2. Related member associations for specific industries: search for shows they host or support. Click for an example list of trade show associations
  3. Business competitors: look on their websites for a schedule of trade shows they exhibit.
  4. Current customers: use your contacts to find out their top trade shows.
  5. Review trade show websites: look at attendance reports on prior year shows and past exhibitor lists. Here's an example of a trade show website.
  6. Trade show prospectus: look online or check with the trade show coordinator to request a copy of a show prospectus to obtains stats on attendees, list of key decision makers attending the show, detailed show schedule and other information. Click here to view an example of a show prospectus.

Step 2: Narrow Your List

To define and narrow your list, take a close look at the type and size of the events.

Is it a larger national show or smaller regional show? This will determine the number of attendees and exhibitors and opens other questions to consider:

  • Who are the attendees? Are they the end users and vendors of your target market?
  • Are the other exhibitors a combination of vendors who might also be potential customers and competitors from whom to gain and win market share?

If the show is sponsored by an industry related association there might be a booking advantage for your company if you join the association. Be sure and take a close look at the benefits of membership. This might include cost savings, early trade show booking opportunities, access to membership contact information and advertising opportunities to announce your sales presence at the trade show.

Some shows are hosted by business entities for their vendors, distributors and customers. Exhibiting opportunities are based on direct invitation to further preferred relationships. These preferred relationships can offer opportunities for shared booth space, cobranding with your specific vendors.

explore what partnerships you can develop and strengthen these beneficial relationships for event exhibit invitations and cobranding opportunities

Based on the list you have complied so far, track the show details on a spreadsheet including the date, location, industry focus and cost of the trade shows. Before any decisions are made the availability of sales team support and management approval along with booth staffing is of prime consideration. As you select trade shows based on your research and budget considerations, options can be further evaluated as either events to exhibit at with a company booth or to send a sales representative to walk the show and identify sales potential to exhibit at the following year.

illustration showing people around a laptop preparing for an event

Step 3: Finalize Event Registration

The final step in show selection is the registration process. Registration can be as simple as signing up online and making payment by credit card or mailing in the application with a check payment. In this process of registering, booth availability and location on the show floor is of prime importance for the return on investment of the trade show experience. Selection and the assignment of booth space will be the topic of part two of this blog post.


Ascentium Capital knows the value trade show events can bring to your business. Whether you're registering to exhibit, furnishing a new booth, or launching an event marketing plan, our business financing, leasing and small business loan solutions can help you make the best out of every event.

Contact us today! Fill out this quick form and a finance manager will be in touch to share how our fast, flexible financing programs can be customized to suit your unique business needs.


About our Guest Author:

Christine Kimball, Vice President of Marketing at Ascentium Capital. Christine has 14 years of experience in trade show exhibiting and corporate event planning.

The mention of or links to third-party information, services, products, or providers does not imply endorsement or support by Ascentium Capital. Individual research should be done before use of any product, process or service mentioned.
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