How to choose a Trade Show

The Business

Take a good hard look at your business. What markets are you targeting? What markets do you want to target? How is your equipment? Is it time to upgrade? What about your computers/software? Are you up-to-date on all the latest trends? These are all questions you should ask yourself before you decide which shows to attend.

"First, look at your current production and business management practices and issues. Then, consider where you want your business to go," said Brandon Stapper, 858 Graphics. "To achieve your greatest return on investment, the show you attend should help you address both areas."

The Vendors

The show floor is where you can meet and greet vendors, see products in action, and ask all the questions that pop into your mind. Look at the vendor list, which most shows have posted online several months in advance; look for vendors you know you want to talk to, and those that have products that are of interest.

The Education
Most shows offer education and training programs. They offer print shop owners and employees alike the chance to learn varied skills and keep current on all the new trends and product innovations.

"The education program should bring together the best speakers and the most relevant topics," said Achelpohl. "A look at the speaker list will let you know whether the program attracts the industry leaders and experts who understand the issues your business faces every day."

Cost and Staff

The final major consideration is the cost and location of the show, as well as which staff should attend and who should stay behind. Location and cost, while they probably have the most noticeable short-term effect on the bottom line, are actually the least important considerations.

According to Achelpohl, "One printer told SGIA that each time he attends an SGIA show, he returns home with tips that add enough to his bottom line to cover the cost of the trip." In general, if you choose the right show and know ahead of time what you want to get out of it, the cost will be recouped in a short period of time.

As for staff, again, know what your goals are. But keep in mind that while at first glance it may seem like only the management staff should go, the entire staff benefits from attending shows. They learn new, more efficient ways of completing their jobs, they gain the opportunity to network and troubleshoot with fellow attendees, and they have a chance to see for themselves where the industry is going. They will probably come away with insights and observations that you miss, simply because they have a different way of looking at things.

The Choice

Making the choice of which show to attend should not be made at random. Do a little homework to see what each show is really about, then pick the ones that align with your industry. You will get more out of them and will find that overall it was a much better investment of your time and money.

The Speciality Printing and Imaging Technology Expo
59Th Annual Trade Show
October 24th-27
Orlando Florida