Which Trade Show Strategy is Right for You?

Categories: Trade Show Tips

When bringing your business to a trade show, it’s important to have a battle plan in mind. How much signage to bring, how big your space needs to be, and how much product to order are all crucial elements. However, there is also strategy in determining which trade shows to actually attend. You only have a certain budget to spend on marketing your business, after all, and figuring out which strategy is right for you can truly aid in getting your business’ name out into the ether while not breaking the bank.
What strategy below is your company?

One Big Show a Year

Going this route means going all out. You will, most likely, use your entire budget for this singular show. At the same time, the exposure you can get from attending such a show is massive. The Specialty Equipment Market Association (or SEMA) show in Las Vegas, Nevada can pull in more than 60,000 buyers both here and overseas. Being such a monumental event, these kinds of shows often have large booth space, allowing for your business to pull out all the stops in terms of signage, displays and personnel meant to draw in the crowd and get everyone present excited about your business. If you choose to go to the “one big show”, many businesses often pivot this kind of show into a “working vacation” for their employees, given the amount of travel involved.

Every and Any Show

Some companies use trade shows as their primary, if not only, form of marketing, and therefore attend any and all shows in which they can reasonably get to. You may not see television or radio spots for this company, or even advertisements in local papers, but you can guarantee you will see them at the trade shows. Due to the consistency of going to so many trade shows, this business will most likely have smaller booth space. But just because it may be a 10X10’ space does not mean this business is not getting it’s message out there. The frequency at which this business attends trade shows means potential customers from all walks of life and all areas will be consistently seeing their name there.

The Regular

Going to a place time and time again is comforting. People know you, you know them, you have your routine and a good lay of the land. Companies who attend the same show year after year follow this pattern (although it could also be the same two or three shows every year). This is a solid strategy for a few reasons. First off, you know what to expect at this show every year. You know how many supplies to order, how many people to bring, how far in advance to start planning, and so forth. Your time and energy is going towards a show that, ultimately, will be less stressful since you have done it year after year and can refer to your pre-trade show checklist. Additionally, you will most likely run into the same people over and over again, be it other vendors, companies, or customers. Being a regular shows loyalty as well as putting in the time to build strong relationships with all the businesses and consumers involved.

Regional Shows

Regional shows can have a more intimate and less intimidating feel than some of the larger, more global-centric shows. As such, they tend to be a little less expensive than the aforementioned bigger shows, since the show itself is poised to target a specific geographical area. Companies that attend regional shows tend to be focused in this regard as well. A prime example of a business who would benefit from attending regional shows could be a financial service agency. They thrive on having good relations with local businesses, and having the setting of a smaller trade show allows for trust to be built easier and quicker. Research is also important here, and you should know the region’s demographics before putting in the time and effort to attend such a show. After all, you wouldn’t want to spend your marketing budget on a client base who potentially has little to no interest in your service, or has already established itself with a trusted local business or brand.

Cash and Carry Shows

Cash and carry shows are a little bit more rare than some of the other kinds of trade shows previously discussed, but can prove to be profitable now instead of later. Since these kinds of shows allow you to conduct actual business at show (ie. make actual transactions), businesses could potentially have an immediate return of investment after the show is concluded. Purchasing supplies for a trade show is a given; it’s going to be an upfront investment no matter what. But being able to turn that investment into a profit at the show itself can be advantageous to many businesses.

International Shows

International shows are a big investment, but for good reason. Many markets around the world can be extremely fruitful for many businesses. Often times, these kinds of shows can end up being huge grabs, but the investment in such a show is high considering travel expenses like flights and accommodations. International shipping can also be costly, and customs can become a nightmare to deal with. Nevertheless, international shows allow companies to increase their standing across the world, ending up to be profitable in the long run. International shows are a prime example of an emerging area where an investment in a trade show can reap high rewards.


With the multitude of trade shows out there, knowing where and how to allocate your marketing budget is vital. Not only is attending the right kind of trade show to suit your business’ needs important, but the frequency at which you attend these shows is key as well. Knowing your product or service, where to bring it, and where you want your company to go and grow with attending these specific shows are all questions to answer as you not only plan your next trade show, but for your trade shows for the next quarter and beyond.

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