4 Key Things to Consider When Attending an In-Person Trade Show

4 Key Things to Consider When Attending an In-Person Trade Show - UberStrategist Blog

Tradeshow season is upon us once again. Now that the world is starting to open up, we’re seeing a return to physical trade shows like Game Developers Conference (GDC), PAX, and EGX. Before you attend your next in-person trade show, we want to highlight four areas you need to consider to make the most of your time and investment.

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Attending industry events is important to developers and publishers, as they are the best way to make new contacts within the industry, conduct face-to-face business meetings, and obtain critical feedback from the public about your game or product.

But before you start making plans, we want to highlight a few things to consider when deciding which ones to attend.

4 Things to Consider Before Attending an In-Person Trade Show

#1: What Is Your Goal?

Arguably the most important thing to consider when deciding which events to attend and how to attend them is figuring out your desired outcome following the event.

Let’s start by looking at a few reasons why you would want to attend:

  • To show off your game or product and put it in the hands of potential customers to get valuable feedback, get it on wishlists, or line up pre-orders
  • To show off a game or product to get face-to-face conversations going with attending media and influencers in order to build relationships that could result in coverage during and beyond the event
  • To meet with key business partners — publishers, investors, partners, and potential new hires — to build relationships that could result in additional production tools and funding for your product

Once you are clear on why you are attending, you need to decide what your goal for attending is. To do this, consider the following:

  • How far along in development is my game or product?
  • Do I need additional partners to help me to bring it to launch?
  • What is the one thing I need most to “move the needle” — money, feedback, exposure — all of these?

Once you’ve determined your goal, you can then move on to deciding which events to attend.

#2. What In-Person Trade Shows Should I Attend?

There are all kinds of trade shows you can attend, and different shows are better suited for different goals. Let’s take a look at the various types and the types of goals they can help you reach.

  • Industry-Focused / B2B Events — These include tradeshows like GDC, GameConnection, RebootDevelop, XD Summit, and devcom, among others.

    If your goal is to meet key business partners – investors, publishers, or other industry professionals – these are the shows to attend. While some of the smaller industry-only events won’t have much in the way of media and influencer attendance, the bigger ones, like GDC, will.
  • Consumer Trade Shows — There are a variety of consumer-focused trade shows throughout the year, including PAX East and PAX West. These trade shows will let you get in front of a large consumer audience as well as in front of some media and influencers.
    4 Key Things to Consider When Attending an In-Person Trade Show - consumer trade showDepending on your game or product, you might also want to consider trade shows that span beyond the industry, such as Comic-Con, Anime Expo, and Fan Expo. Attending these kinds of consumer shows will expose your game to a wider audience.
  • Hybrid B2B and B2C Events — If you have multiple goals to achieve, E3, Gamescom, Tokyo Game Show, EGX, MEGAMIGS, and BIG Festival are among some of the trade shows to consider. These are massive shows, with mixed audiences, that allow you to engage with audiences in various formats, such as show floor booths, B2B meeting rooms, and special B2B exhibitor showcases.

A key consideration when thinking about the type of trade show to attend is how ready your game or product is. You want to make sure that whatever you show, it’s the best possible representation of your product — whether it’s a short one-level demo, a near-final prototype, or the full game. 

While media and industry professionals are comfortable looking at a product that is earlier in development, consumers are not as forgiving. Keep that in mind when deciding what shows you’ll attend.

#3. How Should I Show Off My Product at Trade Shows? 

Now that you’ve figured out where to go, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to present your product(s). There are a number of ways to showcase your product(s), each with its own upside and downside:

Secure Booth Space on the Show Floor

Securing a booth on the trade show floor has the potential to gather the greatest amount of foot traffic and exposure to consumers, as well as media, influencers, and industry professionals. 

4 Key Things to Consider When Attending an In-Person Trade Show - booth staff

The downside is that getting a booth requires a lot of setup and planning on your part. Additionally, it can also get very expensive. Not only will you need to pay for the booth, but you’ll also need to secure hardware, staff, and other miscellaneous expenditures.

If you are thinking of exhibiting at a trade show, check out this post on the top challenges and how to overcome them.

Private Demo Spaces

If you are looking to show off a product early in development to media, influencers, or potential partners, then consider hosting private demos in an off-site space. Using an offsite space gives you an opportunity to keep your product or game confidential and have dedicated time with those you most want to share your game with.

While this is often a less expensive option, you’ll need to find a space to host these meetings that is easy to access from the trade show, as you’ll be asking people to leave the show floor. The last thing you want is people having to travel miles to a separate location. 

To make sure people attend, you’ll have to build an attendee contact list, book appointments, and follow up with those appointments to make sure that everyone knows where to go. And to make it more professional, think about staging the space with your branding, offering incentives or giveaways to those who attend, and be sure to offer drinks and snacks!

Drop-in Off-Site Mixer 

If time is at a premium, this option can provide you with the biggest bang for your buck.

Start by securing a space that’s easily accessible by anyone attending the event and then invite people to join you for a chance to check out your game or product during a limited time frame. While this is the most flexible of all options, the success of these events is determined by the amount of upfront planning you put in. 

You’ll want to secure an appropriate space, create an atmosphere with decor, set up product demo stations, and keep the setting casual by offering refreshments. You will also need to send invitations, and take into account that any time you require people to leave the main tradeshow floor, this may reduce your chances of success.

While this isn’t the end-all-be-all list of ways to show off your game at a tradeshow, whatever option you choose should be based on what your goals are and the best ways to achieve them.  

How Do I Prepare for In-Person Trade Shows?

No matter what type of show you plan on attending, it helps to come prepared. After all:

Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail.

To prepare for your next in-person trade show, concentrate on these seven areas to get the most from your attendance:

  1. Book appointments in advance. Whether it’s with media and influencers or industry professionals, the sooner you start the better as come tradeshow season, everyone’s inboxes get flooded with hundreds of invitations. When booking appointments, don’t forget to block time to follow up with those who have confirmed and those you have yet to hear a response from. Just be careful not to send too many emails to the same person!
  2. Prepare everything you plan to show. Polish final demo builds or prototypes, create a professional, yet splashy presentation for meetings, etc. Whatever you plan on showing, make sure it’s the best representation of your brand.
    4 Key Things to Consider When Attending an In-Person Trade Show - product demo
  3. Create a schedule for yourself and your team. You’ll want the schedule to include your flight and hotel schedules, set-up and tear-down plan and timing, delivery schedules, meeting times and locations, notes about who you are meeting with, and any other relevant details such as the meeting type. By preparing a schedule, you’ll ensure that everyone is on the same page and nothing gets missed.
  4. If you’re putting together a booth, make sure you have everything you need. This includes branding and decorations to help you stand out from the hundreds of other booths; hardware, peripherals, cables, and anything else you might need to ensure a smooth showing. Also, make sure you always have backups and extra hardware: you never know what’s going to happen once you arrive. Consider worst-case scenarios, such as “what if our demo PCs don’t arrive in time, how will we show the game?”
  5. Prepare what you’ll be giving away as swag. Everyone loves swag, so it’s important to consider what you can give away at your booth. If you’re putting together a goody bag, it’s helpful to have the items ordered, delivered, and assembled before you leave for the event as you’ll have enough on your plate when you get there.
  6. Create a process for managing new contacts. You are going to make connections with a lot of people at these trade shows, so make sure you have an organized way to keep track of the contacts you make while you are there. This will help you with your follow-ups after the show.
  7. Prepare a contingency plan for EVERYTHING. Things go wrong, but having a backup plan can turn a potential disaster into a minor blip. It helps to make a huge “if this fails, then we do that” list, taking into account illnesses, broken or missing hardware, flight cancellations, even in-booth power outages!

Attending an in-person tradeshow, no matter how you do it, can be an incredibly rewarding experience. You just want to make sure you have set your goals and are well prepared. The more you plan in advance, the greater your chance for a successful show.

When you’re ready to attend your next in-person trade show, it helps to have a team of experts on your side to make sure no details are missed. Our team at UberStrategist has decades of experience helping developers, publishers, and creators of all sorts establish a meaningful presence at trade shows with exemplary ROI.

Want to talk about how we can get the same results for you? Schedule a strategy call with us to discuss help promote your projects and studio.  

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UberStrategist is a boutique video game PR agency with team members across the US, Canada, and Europe. We specialize in positive publicity, effective promotion, and high-value partnerships for interactive entertainment clients worldwide and work with major publishers, indie devs, technology companies, and non-profits.