Each year, over 5000 trade shows take place all over the planet offering tremendous business opportunities. The question is ….How do you find the right show and then plan for success?

(Please read-on, or if you prefer click here for a webinar on the subject.)

Why should you go?

First, shows offer a great venue for testing foreign markets. What could be better than to put your product in front of hundreds, if not thousands of potential overseas customers? You can also gather a wealth of intelligence on your competitors, and introduce new products with bang.

Of course, the primary mission of any tradeshow is to help you find customers and make sales or develop business leads to follow?up later. Shows are also a great place to find new reps and distributors. And, one simple way to attract their interest is to put up a small sign in your booth that says you’re looking. And, if you already have representation, it often makes sense to support your in?country partners by sharing a booth.

So, how do you find the right show?

Shows are not always what they seem at first glance, so you need to do some homework. To select the right show, you must first find out which events actually address your industry and target market. Fortunately, there’s some excellent online tradeshow directories. Here are a few examples:

• Ten Times directory –
• Trade Show News Network –
• German global show directory (very good) –

The last one is especially good; it’s run very efficiently by the German Tradeshow Industry’s Association. On the German site, you can select a date, the geographic location, and the business sector of interest. A search generates a list of events meeting your search criteria. Clicking on any one of the show links takes you to a page with specific show information. It identifies the organizers, products being displayed, as shows you the number of exhibitors and visitors.

Check show attendance data

This information is critical when you are comparing one event with another. And, it goes without saying that generally, shows with more trade visitors are preferred. There is also a link to the show’s own website which provides a wealth of additional information. Remember, if the site is not in English, you can always view it using the Google or Bing translation apps.

These online directories also give you information to consider on the show’s attendance, growth or decline. Check to see how many attendees are industry professionals, as opposed to the general public. Some organizers open their gates to everyone, in order to artificially pump up attendance data. But it is very unlikely that you will make sales these non?trade visitors..

Finally, data on the number of foreign visitors shows the international reach of an event.

The cost?

Of course, a key consideration for any international trade event is its cost. And, there are a lot of show-associated expenses to consider, including:

•  booth rental,
•  travel,
•  staff labor,
•  shipping of your show materials
•  ATA Carnets may be used to reduce import duties
•  collateral advertising, and
•  the value of your time spent preparing and following up the event.

Is it worth it?

Well maybe. That’s a question only you can answer, by weighing the potential sales generation against the cost of exhibiting. Sometimes, if you already have overseas representatives, you can significantly reduce travel costs by having them operate the booth.

Overseas shows are great because they take you right to where your customers are. Participating also demonstrates your serious commitment to the market and your representatives abroad, while providing some invaluable market intelligence.

US shows can be equally good for cultivating export sales, if they attract a lot of foreign visitors. It also goes without saying that US shows are generally a lot cheaper to attend. And, they let you also cultivate US sales.

International buyer programs

This service is organized by the U.S. Commercial Service at some larger American shows. These programs are designed to connect you with potential business customers abroad. Typically, both foreign visitors and U.S. exhibitors must register in advance for the program. Then, the Commercial Service schedules meetings between you and potential foreign customers.

They also provide special meeting rooms, translators, and various other types of useful support during and after the event. And best of all, there is no charge for this excellent service. To find out if there is an International Buyers Program in your industry, contact your nearest U.S. Export Assistance Center.

You can learn a LOT more about how to successfully participate in international trade events by viewing our free webinar on the subject.