Is The Timing Right? 5 Factors That’ll Help You Choose a Trade Show

This is often the most overlooked factor when choosing trade shows for your strategy, but it’s actually quite important. When is the show taking place, and will that date work well for your business? You need to be sure you’ll have adequate time to plan for the show, spare employees to staff your exhibit, and that the staff will have time after the show ends to follow-up with new leads.

Your business changes from year to year. Whether or not a show will work with your schedule will change from year to year, too.

Pull out your trade show strategy, keep your exhibiting goals in mind, and look at the timing for each of the shows you’re considering.

If two (or more) shows have overlapping dates you’ll need to decide which one to attend—or if you have the resources to send two separate staff teams and two separate displays to each show! If you don’t, look at the other factors (like attendancehistory and location) and decide which show is more important. This also applies if the shows you’re considering share a date within two weeks of each other. Is there enough time to ship your display to the next show? Will your staff have adequate down time?

If the show occurs just before or after you plan to launch a new product or service, it could be a really great advertising opportunity. However, beware of how your business will run during the new launch. If you need your team at the office during the launch, you may need to skip any shows during that time. Carefully consider the timing, keeping in mind the pre- and post-show hours you and your team will need to dedicate to the exhibit process.

If the show is taking place during what is traditionally (or expected to be) a very busy time at your office you’ll need to carefully weigh the other deciding factors on whether or not to exhibit. Consider whether you can spare the staff away from the office, and if they’ll have enough time to perform quality follow-ups with the new leads they get from the show.

Most trade shows avoid traditional holidays, like long weekends and Christmas, but if you’re exhibiting out of the country, holidays differ. What about local holidays and events? If you’re based in Calgary, Alberta and there is a trade show in Toronto during the Stampede, you might be better off having your sales staff stick around and put on the cowboy hat and boots. It is a great time to get in some important networking at the never ending pancake breakfasts and BBQ’s.

The same goes for booking a show during a time when your staff is usually taking vacations. Typically, businesses encourage their staff to take vacations during the slow period, some members of the team won’t be very happy if you throw a tradeshow into the mix the same week they pre-booked their annual camping trip 6 months ago!

Again, don’t forget to consider the pre- and post-show hours your staff will require. A successful exhibitor follows up with their leads within two weeks of the show’s close. If your staff is heading out on holidays or vacations immediately after the show, those follow ups are likely to be neglected.

If you’ve rebranded or you’re on the verge of launching a whole new advertising campaign, a few key trade shows at the right time can really help boost your promotion and create some great opportunity for cross-pollination.

If you’re unsure about a particular show, or you have a list of shows you’re considering, the timing factors above might make it clear which shows are ‘must-attend’ and which shows you have to eliminate. However, not all decisions will be that cut-and-dry.

Once you’ve looked at the pros and cons regarding the timing of the show, compare that to how the show rates in regards to attendance and to your overall trade show strategy. You’re probably getting a clearer picture of which shows can help boost your business. In our next post, we’ll look at how a show’s history can help you choose the right show.

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