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Your sales manager is breathing down your neck. Q3 is coming to an end, and you’re not close to your quota. You think exhibiting at a tradeshow, or an expo is a sure-fire solution to your woes – how hard can it be to make sales when leads walk up to your booth? This is going to be like shooting fish in a barrel, right? Unfortunately not. Like many aspects of business, conducting a successful trade show is not as simple as you imagine it to be. This article will cover the due diligence that should be performed to plan a successful trade show.

1. Is the Trade Show a Right Fit?

It is easy to fall into the trap of picking trade shows based on gut feeling or intuition. This method might involve forming a decision based on a quick look at the website and having a chat with the organiser’s sales representative.

The problem with an intuitive approach is that picking the wrong trade show can be a costly exercise. Expo stands alone can cost over $7,000. You also have to factor in the cost of flights, hotels and food for inter-state trade shows.

Instead, you should take a methodical and data-driven approach to your selection, and ask questions such as:

  • Who are you aiming to target at the trade show?
  • To whom is the selected trade show targeted at?
  • How many people on average attend the selected trade show?

The point of these questions is so that you consider who the attendees are and whether they are in the target market for your offering. Event pages will often have a “who should attend” section on their website. If they say people with a marketing function should attend, but you are targeting finance professionals then maybe this is not the right event for your needs.

2. Speak to the Other Exhibitors

While the event organisers can be an excellent source of general information, at the end of the day, their job is to sell stands. Experience shows that salespeople can paint an overly rosy picture of a trade show and the results it will generate for your business.

Speaking with other exhibitors, or previous exhibitors will provide you with direct information without the sales element from the organisers. Ask the trade show organiser for the current and prior years floorplan. By calling five of the attendees from the previous year, and cross referencing it against the current year’s floorplan, you’ll speak with a mix of exhibitors who only attended for one year and those who booked again.

This simple task will give you a broader understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the event from those who have done it before. You might find that a previous exhibitor got no return on investment, or that the organisers had misrepresented the opportunity.

3. Negotiate

In life, everything is negotiable, and that includes trade shows. Enter the negotiation with a realistic amount you are willing to pay for a stand. Despite what the sales representative may say, they will often be able to provide you with a discount off the initial quote.

Furthermore, there is also usually an opportunity to catch further discounts if you are willing to wait until a week or two before the trade show. The organisers usually provide these discounts to sell stands that would otherwise go unsold.

Obviously, this is dependent on there being unsold inventory. However, if you take the risk, organisers may be willing to sell the stands for up to 25% of the usual costs. This strategy may be used to experiment with trade shows that may not necessary be an ideal fit.

Key Takeaways

With multiple trade shows happening every week, it can be easy to book the wrong one if you’re not careful and do not perform the necessary due diligence. Nevertheless, trade shows can be an opportunity to meet some of your most fruitful clients and an opportunity for a great source of leads. Careful planning is a must.


LegalVision is Australia’s fastest growing legal startup. Having had the experience at multiple trade shows around Australia and internationally, our team of specialised startup lawyers and business lawyers are more than qualified to assist. Give us a call at 1300 544 755.


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