5 Common Challenges to Identifying Your Best Trade Show Selection Process

Determining the best trade show selection process for your B2B company takes time and resources. At MEET, we often witness companies making a good effort to survey the market of available shows, however, when it comes time to make a selection, they fail to identify a process that is reliable, repeatable, and has future value in guiding their ongoing event selection decisions.

Best Trade Show Selection Process

The best trade show selection process is one that maximizes ROI. To use our favorite fishing analogy, it places you in the right body of water, at the right depth, with the precisely the right bait to catch the exact fish you set out to catch. And because you have employed a strategy, you’ll catch more than one today and several more the next time you go out fishing.

At MEET, our goal is to help companies eliminate the guesswork in achieving their best trade show selection process. We help growth companies and pavilion hosts effectively exhibit at trade shows, a process which starts with determining which shows will deliver the best ROI.

Why exhibit at trade shows?

Companies that exhibit at trade shows typically do so for the following four reasons:

  • Identify new prospects
  • Engage with existing prospects
  • Market knowledge and competitive intelligence
  • Hypothesis testing

First and foremost, companies attend trade shows to identify new prospects—ideal customers who match their buyer persona. (Check out these posts for more on defining a prospect and buyer personas.) Trade shows are also excellent opportunities to efficiently connect with and nurture relationships with those already in your sales funnel, moving them closer toward closing a deal or elimination. Trade shows also put you in an ideal space to assess the market, evaluate your competitive advantage, and test your value proposition with potential customers. Particularly for early-stage companies, the ability to engage in rapid-fire testing of different offers will deliver valuable insight into the needs and desires of your target market. In fact, doing this right will evolve your customer communication and engagement that would not otherwise be possible.

Best Trade Show Selection Process

5 Common Challenges

Even for companies with a strong commitment to exhibiting at trade shows, determining the best trade show selection process may be challenging. Here are the five challenges we see most often.

  1. FOMO

Companies tend to stick to the shows they have done in the past for fear of missing out (FOMO). We notice many companies getting stuck in a pattern with particular shows even though they may not deliver the best ROI. Avoiding the herd mentality is not easy.

2. Failure to Update

Many companies fail to refresh their view of available events in the marketplace. Events may not necessarily be repeated each cycle; likewise new events enter the market all the time. It is important to know which events are emerging as some may offer special features to attract your ideal prospect. A full review and good evaluation metric is key.

3. Lack of Focus

Whether it’s due to a fear of missing out or poorly defined buyer personas, some companies tend to apply an overly broad focus to their event selection process, which in turn delivers mixed results and wasted resources.

4. Persona Creep

Companies work hard to map their buyer personas (semi-fictional representations of their ideal customers). However, despite their best intentions, when it comes time to apply these personas to particular events, we notice that the persona tends to broaden. We call this persona creep. It takes discipline to honor those personas even if it means fewer prospects.

5. Go Big vs. Specific

Many companies fall prey to a misguided attraction to large events where they will meet high volumes of potential prospects. The challenge is that many large events tend to be more general. That means a lower ratio of prospects to attendees when compared to specific, smaller events that attract higher numbers of ideal prospects. It’s important to analyze the ratio # of prospects/$ spent, plus take into account the dilution factor—your prospect may never even find your well-curated offer on a very crowded floor. Big is not always bad, but you have to assess this ratio when making an evaluation of the opportunity.

Identifying your best trade show selection process requires time and resources. Choosing events that truly deliver ROI make it worth every penny.


MEET (meetroi.com) helps B2B growth companies and pavilion hosts effectively leverage at trade shows and in-person events. MEET’s processes help its clients ramp-up sales quickly and maintain a steady stream of high-quality prospects going forward. Contact Bill Kenney at MEET today for a free trade show participation assessment bill@meetroi.com or +1 (860) 573-4821.

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