Trade shows can open new doors when it comes to growing your business. Whether your goal is to research potential new markets or to size up your competition, trade shows are a one-stop shop for improving your export plan. 

By attending trade shows, you will get the opportunity to:

  • Gain market intelligence
  • Network
  • Test your products
  • Scout out the competition
  • Expand your sales on a large scale 

While being an exhibitor at a trade show comes with its own advantages, it can be costly. Simply walking a trade show is a low stakes way to test the waters and see if you’d want to exhibit there in the future. One way to make the most of attending is to conduct primary research and gain insight into consumer behaviors in another target market. 

From Attendee to Exhibitor

Unlike attending a show where you get to just be a fly on the wall, exhibiting requires a much higher level of commitment. However, the benefits are worth it. Becoming an exhibitor at the right trade show attracts attention and can elevate your legitimacy as a business. It indicates that your business features a notable product or service to showcase. As trade shows are highly interactive events, other benefits of exhibiting include gaining feedback, and opportunities to lock down sales. You can also host meetings with other companies, vendors, and agents in the market – all of whom will be valuable assets in your export journey.

A question you might have is how to choose the right trade show to exhibit at. Taking into account the costs involved, you want to make sure your return on investment (ROI) exceeds what you invest. A common rule of thumb is to decide on your trade show objectives and strategy before even researching where to exhibit. There are many things you can accomplish at a trade show, but a focus area can help you save time. For example, maybe your main goal is finding customers and raising awareness of your company. Then, you’d want to allocate more resources towards marketing and networking. If your focus is on launching a new product or service, you might consider having samples or demonstrations at your booth. 

Don’t forget to research the target audience of the trade show you choose. Will your top prospects and current customers attend? Or is the trade show targeted towards an audience that doesn’t really match your customer profile? Understanding the audience of a trade show is an essential part of evaluating whether a certain trade show is the right fit for your business. 

Where to Get Trade Show Support

Preparing for a trade show is no small feat but you don’t have to do it alone. One way to get financial help is by seeking assistance from the CanExport program. CanExport is a grant program funded by the Government of Canada, administered by Global Affairs Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service. This program provides grants of up to 50% of your costs for market entry activities – including travel and trade shows. 

For more tips and tricks on attending or exhibiting at trade shows, check out Export Navigator’s resource library and free e-courses. The Export Navigator program can also help B.C.-based businesses showcase their best self at trade shows. If you’re eligible for the program, you’ll be matched with an export advisor who can take your trade show presence to the next level. Reach out today to learn more.