Your Trade Show Needs Exhibitors: Here’s How to Get Them

For many businesses, attending one or more trade shows each year is a vital part of marketing and sales. And when it comes to choosing which shows to attend, exhibitors tend to be highly selective. How do you get exhibitors to your trade show, rather than a competing event? It all comes down to proving ROI. If you can show potential exhibitors that your event has high ROI potential, they’ll be more likely to make their investment in your show.

Why Do Exhibitors Attend Trade Shows?

There are many reasons exhibitors attend trade shows, but they all boil down to the same things: marketing and sales. Depending on the business, that might mean launching a new start-up or a new product, generating new leads, or simply raising a brand’s industry profile.

What do Exhibitors Look for In a Trade Show?

Audience. For exhibitors, the most important aspect of a trade show is the audience. To make the expense of exhibiting worthwhile, they need to attend shows with an audience demographic that fits whatever they’re selling. That’s why it’s so important that your exhibitor pitch includes details about your past trade show attendees and who you expect to be at your upcoming event.

ROI. Exhibiting at a trade show represents a sizable financial investment. When you add up the price of a trade show booth, booth space, travel and accommodation, and other costs, it runs into tens of thousands of dollars, even for a small in-line booth. Big brands with large peninsula or island exhibits may spend ten times more. Exhibiting is expensive, there’s no doubt about it. If you can show an exhibitor that the ROI potential justifies the expense, they’re much more likely to consider your event.

How to Get Exhibitors for a Trade Show

1. Reach Out to Prospective Exhibitors

Whether you’re launching an entirely new trade show or holding a recurring annual event, you don’t have to sit back and wait for exhibitors to find you. Researching and contacting prospective exhibitors can—and should—be a part of your event marketing plan too.

Find Potential Exhibitors

Holding a successful trade show means bringing together the right mix of attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors. This means creating two similar, but separate, marketing campaigns: one for attendees and one for exhibitors and sponsors—and running them concurrently. Each uses similar tactics but is aimed at a different demographic. To reach exhibitors for a trade show, consider:

  • Email – Any email lists you have, including website subscribers, previous years’ exhibitors, etc.
  • Content marketing that focuses on exhibitor solutions – Use this to funnel potential exhibitors (and attendees) to your event website.
  • Social media – Find out which platforms your target exhibitors use, and create social media content that gets their attention.

Make Contact

The first contact between you and potential exhibitors will often be an email or event website landing page. These two documents can be developed in the same way to provide the same essential information.

Bearing in mind the info that exhibitors need before they decide to attend a trade show, what details should you include in an email invitation or landing page?

  • Expected attendance figures and demographics
  • Event schedule highlights, such as key industry figures scheduled to attend and networking opportunities for exhibitors – Make this brief. The focus of this email invitation isn’t what’s happening at the show, but how exhibitors can benefit.
  • Testimonials from previous exhibitors, if applicable
  • Summary of exhibitor packages
  • Call-to-action for more information and/or registration
  • (In an email) Further details, such as a full conference schedule, venue layout, and registration information

2. Give Exhibitors the Info They Need

When an exhibitor assesses a trade show to determine if they should attend, they need information to help them make the decision. It’s your job to provide that information. What are they looking for, exactly?

Attendee numbers and demographics. More specifically, what they really want to know is: How many attendees at this event will be people with the ability and authority to make buying decisions?

ROI opportunities. It’s not enough to simply say that buyers and decision-makers will be in attendance. Exhibitors also want to know things like:

  • Will they have good access to those people?
  • Does the event provide ample time for both exhibiting and networking?

Cost. To determine if the ROI potential is worth it, an exhibitor needs to know what it will cost to attend the event. Don’t make it hard for them to find this information.

How does it work? The same principle applies here. Potential exhibitors need information about space availability, purchase process, and other logistical details. Make sure they can access it easily and quickly.

3. Create a Valuable Exhibitor Experience

Ultimately, what a potential exhibitor is looking for is an idea of what the exhibitor experience will be like if they attend your show. Make it easy for them to imagine and show them that it will be a beneficial experience. If you can do that, you should end up with plenty of businesses eager for floor space.

Providing demographic info is important because it assures exhibitors that their target audiences will be in attendance. But a valuable exhibitor experience is more than demographics. It’s also about creating an event environment that actively helps exhibitors meet their goals. There are lots of potential ways to do this. Some options include:

  • Event schedule – If your event includes more than just a trade show, make sure your schedule supports the trade show aspect. For instance, don’t schedule high-profile speakers at the same time as the trade show floor is open.
  • Networking – Provide bonus networking or educational activities for exhibitors during off hours. Considering the expense of attending a show, many exhibitors consider free time to be wasted time and appreciate being able to fill in gaps in their schedules.
  • Increased exhibitor visibility – Give exhibitors opportunities to stand out. For instance, offer premium exhibitor or sponsorship packages with prominent app or website advertising, and other perks.
  • Help developing leads – Utilizing digital tech such as Swapcard can make your event more exhibitor-friendly. For instance, Swapcard’s smart algorithm can use attendee and exhibitor data to match exhibitors up with the most qualified buyers.

 

Make Your Exhibitors Happy So They Keep Them Coming Back

Your trade show success hinges on bringing together the right mix of attendees and exhibitors in an environment that helps them find each other. Do the hard work up front and get this part right, and you’ll have a show full of satisfied exhibitors, who are happy to come back year after year.

Ivan Fujihara

Chief Financial Officer

Ivan brings 25+ years in senior level management experience from a variety of technology industries.  His background includes accounting management, analytics and audit management for technology companies.  He has worked with companies such as THX, Ltd, Recruitology , Double Click, Creative Labs and more.  Ivan has also served on the board of Lincoln Families, a non-profit that supports East Bay children with the objective of disrupting the cycle of trauma and poverty.

Matt Rulis

Vice President of Sales

Matt is a marketing professional and has been managing marketing strategies, campaigns and environments for a diverse client base for over 15 years. From a service perspective, Matt and his team of Account Executives focus on fostering relationships to uphold a greater than 99% customer satisfaction rating year-over-year. Additionally, with extensive experience on the client-side of the industry, he understands that alignment between expectation and budget is paramount to a successful project. As a result, ProGlobalEvents' clients can expect a competitive advantage paired with top quality products and services. Matt is an avid fly-fisherman, enjoys most outdoor activities and is a true college football fanatic.

Tom Foley

VP of Operations

Heading the fabrication side of ProGlobalEvents is exhibit and event industry veteran, Tom Foley. For over 35 years he has been responsible for building amazing exhibits and environments for clients. Tom started out in the production area and has broad experience in project and operations management. He currently oversees production, warehouse, graphics and project management departments. Tom studied machine tool technology and welding before entering the industry. As a true "builder" he also enjoys restoring and modifying classic American cars.

Dick Wheeler

President

Dick serves as President of ProGlobalEvents and President of ProExhibits and is a board member of CEMA (Corporate Event Marketing Association). At ProExhibits he has been nationally recognized as an innovator and driving force in the fast-growing trade show exhibit and event industry. Under his leadership in 1997, the firm received INC magazine’s INC 500 award as one of America’s fastest-growing companies. His informative articles on developments and innovations in the trade show exhibit and event industry have appeared in national trade publications. Dick has a B.S. degree from Wittemore School of Business & Economics at the University of New Hampshire and has completed the Entrepreneurial Executive Leadership Program sponsored by MIT, YEO and INC. He is actively involved in Vistage, an interactive group of over 20,000 CEO’s and presidents worldwide and is a member of CEMA and EDPA.

Jack Connolly

Creative Director

As an experiential creative director, Jack prefers to draw outside the lines. He tells stories with original content and impactful design to ignite meaningful conversation.

 

Jack brings 20 years of event industry knowledge to ProGlobalEvents. He specializes in building live & virtual platforms for audiences to connect, engage and immerse themselves in the power of a shared experience. His skills range from ideation and concept development to defining an attendee journey through storytelling and design.

Jack understands the creative process is not linear, but a collaborative process between agency and client. He manages teams of designers and technology developers to pioneer impactful brand experiences. His diverse skillset and leadership ensure for award-winning results and memorable impressions.

 

In 2019, BizBash named Jack one of the top event designers in North America. SXSW awarded his work the “People’s Choice in Innovation” in 2021.

Jody Tatro

Chief Executive Officer

In addition to being CEO of ProGlobalEvents, Jody is also the CEO of ProExhibits. With Jody at the helm, the company has been recognized repeatedly as one of the Top 50 Women Owned Businesses in Silicon Valley. She has set the outstanding client service standards for which the firm’s account management team is noted. Jody is a recipient of the YWCA’s Tribute to Women Award, the Junior League Community Volunteer Award and is listed in Who’s Who of Women in Business. Following her graduation from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Jody held various sales positions in several technology companies.

Paul Miller

Chief Marketing Officer

Having served in a number of executive roles for companies in Silicon Valley for over 25 years, Paul has a client-side perspective of the corporate events industry. He has a broad set of experiences working for startups as well as global firms such as Applied Materials. At ProGlobalEvents, Paul helps the company to reach clients through traditional and digital marketing programs. With an extensive background in the High Tech sector, he’s also involved with technology strategy both internally and for clients. Paul is a graduate of the Harvard Business School, the Stanford Engineering Design School and Claremont McKenna College. In his spare time he is a also a principal member of the non-profit Gratitude Network which mentors award winning social entrepreneurs.