If you’re new to participating in exhibitions and have just made the decision to take part in some fair, you probably can’t wait to jump in and to start imagining your trade show stand. But of all the possible exhibitions out there you need to choose the one that will be the most effective for your business. Some companies participate in more than one exhibition every season but you shouldn’t make huge plans before you have at least some experience here. Here are a few tips – what should one consider to choose the right exhibition.

Define your goals

What do you expect from your participation? To some participation success can be measured by closed contracts, while others see their KPI as kilograms of business cards from the prospects. Do you already have “warm” contacts to invite them for further talks or are you simply looking for new businesses to hear about you? Try to decide on your goals and expectations – this is your main reference point.

Ask the organisers a few questions

If your business has been on the market for a while, you’ve probably received the invitations from different event organizers. The first information about the exhibition itself and the venue will come from them. However, it shouldn’t be decisive to you – remember, they are trying to sell you their service. But still, ask them the following (if they haven’t provided you with this information together with the participation offer).

Last year list

Study the list of the last year (if the exhibition is annual) participants. The more familiar companies from your industry are there – the better.

Statistics, charts, and infographics

This certainly will not be a 100% trustworthy document, but it might help you build your own picture of this event. The visitors typically fill out extensive and boring applications when they come in, so usually, the organizers have very accurate data about who attends their events. See if the average visitor looks similar to your Buyer Persona. Let’s hope for honesty here, because no one would ever guarantee that they publish the accurate data as it is.

Read the key industry magazines

The most prominent events are usually in the spotlight. Most of the industry media will write about the event if it’s worth attention. Find the dusty last year magazines and read the articles dedicated to the previous fair. Or just as well go to the web and google some information from the trusted publishers.

Use the social media

Social Media aren’t always that bad. The event should have an account on major social media. Check how many people subscribed, how many people plan on attending. See the engagement on the page as well – how many people react to posts and leave the comments. Use the hashtag (the event should have its own hashtag, really) to see what other people write about this exhibition. If you see some thought leaders speak about the event positively then it’s probably worth your attention.

Make a few calls

As soon as you have the list of the previous year visitors, you can get the most valuable part of your “to go or not to go” puzzle. There should be companies you’re familiar with (that’s a must for a good exhibition). Choose a few of the companies where you know the people who might be responsible for participation. Making calls would be the best – ask them a few subjective questions. How busy was their exhibition booth on the first day of the show? Ask the questions that could be both informative to you but wouldn’t push your interlocutor to reveal any commercial information.

Exhibitions are a great way to boost your brand and your business, but you have to take every step responsibly. Choosing the event is one of the most important decisions that can make or break your whole exhibition experience.