It’s like the quest for the holy grail – for those of us in IT marketing and sales, we’re always looking for the best technology trade shows and tech conferences to exhibit. For some businesses, the best places to have a booth are the largest tech conferences; for others, the smaller IT trade shows – or a particular show, like Pulse conference, is better.
But how do you know?
1. Start with your best customer profile
Finding the best tech conventions or shows starts with one question: who is your best customer? What is their role or title? We’ve written about how to find the decision-maker (link to blog post) – if this person is different from your customer, be sure to add them to your thinking. Once you’ve identified these people, it’s critical to understand where they can be found.
At ExpoIQ, we make that easy by starting the search with your best customer or client. Who is s/he? What is his/her role or title? Our database of tech conferences can select on these titles or roles – that’s the first place to start. Simply tell us the exact titles of people who are your best buyers – and be sure to include everyone in the purchase or decision-making process. Remember: this might include procurement for larger or enterprise organizations.
2. Seek out your existing customers
One of the easiest ways to find the best shows is to ask your best clients what shows they go to, and why. They may have already done the hard work, over time, to find the best places to attend or to exhibit. Not only that, it’s a great way to “stay in touch” with your clients – to be at the same show or to meet them there.
Another great way to take advantage of your existing client’s expertise is to ask them of other shows they know of that they like, but for one reason or another they can’t attend, or exhibit at that event. It might be a matter of budget or timing for them but the same event might be a great new place for you to exhibit, even though your client won’t be there.
3. Go where your prospects are looking for you
Research indicates that 77% of decision-makers found at least one new supplier at the last trade show they attended.* Those are great odds for you, if you’re at one of those shows! Find out where your prospects will be looking for new vendors and try to exhibit there and speak there, too! There’s nothing more impressive than being the “expert” to a roomful of buyers.
Remember: if you’re not at an event and your prospects are looking for new or better vendors, then the person who is there instead of you (i.e. your competition) has a better chance of closing that opportunity.
4. Explore new locations
If you’ve been focused on local conferences, it may be time to branch out to other regions of the country. Similarly, if you’ve only focused on national shows, it might be cost-effective to see if there’s a local or regional show that helps you focus on your ideal client.
For example, the top 5 meeting locations in the U.S. might include Orlando, Las Vegas, Chicago, Atlanta, or San Diego. But for IT? It depends much more on what your specific target is. If your best prospects are affiliated with the largest software companies, then you’d be better off at one of their major events (from Microsoft to Oracle to Gartner).
5. Look at the reviews and see what others have to say
Sometimes, finding out what your peers are saying can play a key part in your decision-making process. That’s one reason why we at ExpoIQ ask you for your thoughts on shows you’ve attended.
It’s expensive to show at the biggest tech conferences, so it’s worth your while to do some research into what other exhibitors have said about the experience. It’s a great idea to reach out to others you know who are in areas close to what you do (but not competitors, of course) to hear what they’ve experienced at the largest tech conferences. Perhaps they’re ideal for you – or perhaps a more focused, local, or vendor-sponsored event will be more profitable.
Once you find the best place for you, it’s important to remember that IT trade shows can also shift over time – sometimes, over just a year or two. Keep watch over the “up-and-coming” events. You never know when or where the “new” best tech conventions will pop up!