I’ve been asked a lot recently about trade shows. I think part of that is because I have a background in marketing strategy specific to trade shows.
Another reason is because I come in contact with so many young companies and entrepreneurs that are trying to ‘make sense of it all.’ And, when you read between the lines of the question, the real question is: where will I get the most ‘bang for my buck?’
Here is my answer (that I know people probably will groan at!) is: it depends. It depends on how you plan on showing up. It depends on the goals that you have for a trade show or conference. It depends on whether you have the budget to exhibit and market. That truly is what it comes down to. That being said, I have a few guidelines.
First, I would suggest that everyone go to the trade shows they are looking to exhibit at as an attendee first, if possible. Look at the show literature ahead of time. Print out a map of the exhibit space. Match that with a list of exhibitors and plan your days out according to the companies you want to meet. This will give you the opportunity to get a good look around the trade show to see how they move. You’ll also see that each trade show or conference has its own unique ‘vibe.’ This will help you match the ones that fit your company best.
Pay attention to the pre-show marketing. You’ll find that some brands have big campaigns and budgets while others are scrappy and gritty about getting attention. Look in the trade publications for the ads that are running. Read the articles that are coming out as a result of press releases. Hop on the social media for the trade shows and see how they are marketing. Find the cool promotions that will give you ideas on how to draw attention to your booth.
Next, network. Ask your peers what shows they have gone to. Find out their likes and dislikes. Don’t just look at the size of a show. Sometimes, intimate shows with quality buyers are a better investment. On the flip side, if you need a broader audience and can maximize the investment, a larger show may be what you need. It all goes back to: ‘it depends.’
Be sure to differentiate between actual trade shows where you are meeting with buyers, retailers, and distributors who are likely to buy in bulk and pet shows that cater to the general public. This is where a lot of money gets spent by not making this distinction and targeting the shows that will benefit companies the most.
With all of this being said, here are the trade shows to pay attention to in 2014:
Backer’s Total Pet Expo – “The Trade Show For Everyone In The Pet Industry”
BlogPaws – Biggest Social Media and Conference of its Kind
Global Pet Expo – ‘Too Big To Miss”
InterZoo – World Leading Exhibition for the Pet Supplies Industry
SuperZoo – “The National Show for Pet Retailer”
Women In The Pet Industry Conference – Grow. Give. Connect.