Nearly every business owner at some point in time confronts the decision of participating in a trade show – not as a visitor but as an exhibitor. This decision may seem like a wonderful idea. Or, it may put you in an, all too often, position of saying that “trade shows are for big companies” not one our size.
As a rule, what scares away the small and medium sized business owners is the unknown of what all is involved and how much does it cost. Both are very realistic questions that need to be addressed to determine participation.
Identifying the Convention and Show
Whether you are introducing a new product or service, expanding into new classes of trade or taking on a larger geographical area, you must determine desired outcomes for your potential trade show participation.
Trade shows come in all sizes and offer a variety of opportunities for your specific business goals. There are local, state, regional, national and international shows that take place every month of the year in places from Seattle to Orlando and Palm Springs to Boston. They may have 75 or 100 booths and exhibitors or encompass over two million of net square feet of space like the CES (Consumer Electronic Show) does in Las Vegas each January.
Depending upon your trade show goals and type of products or services that you want to expand, you need to identify shows where your existing customers and potential customers attend. Sometimes a state or even local show is a good place to start but only if your potential customers have a reason to attend that show.
Where, When and Attendees
Seek out and find shows that are in your class of trade. Though not the primary determinant, consider any geographical travel required to attend the show. Most trade show organizations will send you a list of past exhibitors and attendees if you show an interest in being an exhibitor. Sometimes they will send you a partial list of exhibitors and attendees who have signed up for this year. If this show is within your current industry and has retailers, wholesalers or groups of businesses using your products or services then you will readily recognize the list of attendees. Keep in mind that in addition to current customers and prospective customers, your competitors will also be there showing.
What’s The Cost?
The cost to attend a trade show depends upon several components, and there is no real set formula for figuring out the cost. How far away is the show, how many people will you be taking to the show, what type of booth decorations will you need as a backdrop, the lodging, travel and meals, sales materials required, and of course the actual costs for the booth space, set up, storage, etc. All of these costs and more are real and true expenses. To assist in your compilation the following “rule of thumb” formula will give you some idea.
+ Booth space 33% of budget
+ Booth furnishings & graphics 18%
+ Travel & Ent. 18%
+ Show Services…electric, cleaning, storage, etc 12%
+ Shipping 9%
+ Promotion 8%
+ Misc 2%
Using a standard booth size of 20 x 20 and an average square foot price of $21.00 you would have a cost of $8,400.00 which multiplied times “3” would give a rough total cost of $25,200. Square footage pricing does vary depending upon the show.
Do people really go to trade shows?
According to Quora and Skyline, two companies who are heavily involved in national and international trade shows for all industries, over 40 million people attended trade shows in the U.S. in 2015. 38% of these visitors were “first-timers,” and they spent an average time of 9.5 hours in exhibitor’s booths. Over 81% of them had total recall of visiting a specific company’s trade show exhibit and what they were selling.
Trade shows do work and can be very profitable assuming they are handled properly, and the necessary planning and follow-up is adhered to.
At Cogent Analytics, we never stop looking for ways to improve your business and neither should you. So, check out some of our other posts for helpful business information: