What should you consider before committing to exhibiting? Six questions to help you choose the right event for your company

As I wrote last week – we’ve been very busy with events lately and have produced items for, or attended, in London, Brussels and LA.  Phew!  I think we’ll have earned ourselves a small drink come 5.30pm tonight!

This just goes to show that live events are still thriving, in the past many said the internet would spell the end of exhibitions.  The pressure can certainly be seen within the industry, but it’s still thriving and live events offering face-to-face selling opportunities are still an important part of marketing plans around the world.

That said, businesses are having to become more selective about which events they attend.  Exhibiting is an expensive activity and any marketer must be sure that spending that marketing budget is justified before committing.

In that case, how does a marketer select the correct event for their organisation from the plethora of opportunities out there?  This is what we recommend to our clients:

Consider the cost – The cost of exhibiting is far greater than just the stand space.  You must pay for staff, marketing materials, accommodation and travel.  So don’t be lured into an event just because the cost per metre is low, look at the full cost of the activity before committing your marketing budget.

Who else is exhibiting? – Are all your key competitors going to be there?  If so, it may well be worth choosing this event over any other.  At a key event in your industry your absence may speak volumes to potential customers.

Where is it? – Where is the event taking place?  Is it a large credible venue or a small out of the way hotel?  If you’re going to struggle to make the journey there, so will your potential customers.

What’s in it for the visitors? With time out of the office becoming rarer and rarer for most employees, make sure your chosen event offers plenty of added value for visitors.  Workshops and seminars are very popular and many visitors will choose an event for these alone, therefore you may expect these events to be busier than those with no added extras. But…

How many RELEVANT visitors will there be? It makes sense to take space at busy events, but don’t book space just because and exhibition is busy.  All event organisers will be able to give you a breakdown of visitors by industry sector, interest, seniority and purchasing power so make sure you study this information carefully.  By booking an event on overall attendance alone you may be committing to three days of talking to hundreds of people who will never buy or even need your product.

Try before you buy – most events are regular, taking place on an annual cycle.  Make sure you visit before committing the following year, see how you find the experience as a visitor, would you go back? Take the opportunity to keep an eye out on visitor name badges to see who they are and where they’re from.  If you like the look of it, you’ll be able to book a space there and then – you may even be offered an early bird booking rate!