Regarding the selection process, Andy writes:
Many companies either go to all the shows that cover their product category or customer segment without question. Still others act as if they have thrown darts at a calendar to select which events to attend. The worst selection method has your going to shows because a.) we always go to that one. or b.) we went there last year.He then provides a thorough checklist that pretty much covers the considerations you should take into account (location, demographics, vendors participating, time of year, cost - including attendee cost).
Andy then gives us a rundown of the "musts" once you've decided to participate - including the all important pre-planning with your customers and prospects, and, of course, follow up.
I would add to Andy's list that, if you can get a hold of the attendee list ahead of time, you might want to do some pre-marketing to either the full list or to companies you're particularly interest in getting into.
And when checking out a show (especially if you're planning on going in a big, expensive way) it might be worth your while to attend as a "civilian" before you make the big commitment. This is obviously a longer range plan, and these shows can change from year to year (and venue to venue). Still, you can gauge the buzz factor, check out whether your competitors booths are well-attended, etc. Shows tend to rise and fall over time, but I've never seen a completely huge drop-off from one year to the next.
Andy ends on this note:
A successfully planned and executed trade show event will provide high quality leads for your sales teams and qualified prospects for you opt-in list and online marketing activities.
A useful reminder that you can and should have a range of mutually-supporting activities in your program mix.
For What It's Worth is a promising new marketing blog. Welcome to the family, Andy.