Cannabis and Hemp Trade Shows: Should I be Attending?

There’s no shortage of Hemp and Cannabis trade shows across the country, and no shortage of businesses, brands, and consumers in attendance. For established brands, trade shows can be extremely valuable to generate hot leads, sales, and partnerships. For newer companies, trade shows can also offer valuable industry insights and opportunities to create lasting impressions through strategic branding.

In this post:

  • Are trade shows right for me?
  • What type of show should I attend?
  • What can I do with my budget?
  • The bottom line

Are Trade Shows Right for Me?

You may be wondering if trade shows are right for your business, and how much you’ll need to spend to achieve your goals. The answer is not so straightforward. Trade shows can help grow your audience and strengthen your network, but they’re not 101 courses in how to build a hemp and cannabis business from scratch.

Trade shows are most effective if you have some industry experience and clear goals. If that’s you, the next step is to choose which trade show or shows are right for your business.

What Type of Trade Show Should I Attend?

Every trade show is slightly different in terms of size, theme, and attendees so the best strategy is to select a show that closely aligns with your product and what you’re trying to achieve.

Narrow It Down

Are you in the industrial Hemp industry? Or are you looking for information on CBD, medical cannabis, or adult-use industry? Depending on your vertical, look for shows that fall within your business type.

The more narrow the selection, the more pertinent the audience and information will be. Huge shows with a broad range of hemp and cannabis businesses may be enticing, but the most important factor is to ensure that the attendees match your customer or supplier profile. Otherwise, you can easily get lost in the crowd.

Second, consider the location. If your business is a local brick and mortar, you’ll want to attend shows in your region. If you’re part of a national company, you may want to choose shows that draw audiences from around the country.

Open-to-the-Public Trade Shows

The most common hemp & cannabis trade shows are open-to-public, which vary greatly in size and scope. There are massive shows like CBD Expo and MJBizCon, which feature the top hemp and cannabis brands. If your brand is established, it may be wise to attend large consumer shows like these to set meetings with current customers and enhance your visibility. Otherwise, you may want to consider smaller regional shows, which can be a great starting point to build your network.

B2B Trade Shows

B2B trade shows are generally more expensive and tend to be the most effective for established brands. The reason is that attendees are investing in the show because they have an immediate need to buy or sell. Leads are hot and opportunities to connect with suppliers are plentiful.

If your brand is new, however, the cost-to-benefit ratio may not make sense for you right now. Ultimately the decision of which show to attend, and how to attend comes down to your budget. No trade show is worth breaking the bank, so carefully consider what makes sense based on your funds.

What Can I Do With My Budget?

Once you’ve determined your purpose and the best type of show to attend, you must also decide how to attend.

For example, are you going to exhibit? Walk the floor as an attendee? Are you going to simulcast? Get a full access pass?

The most important factor to consider is how much you can afford. Then make the most of the experience by researching the attendees and reaching out to set up meetings before you arrive. This is a great way to maximize time regardless of whether or not you can afford a booth.

Low Budget (Less Than $1K)

If you’re on a lower budget and your goal is to soak up information, find out if you can simulcast to watch education sessions remotely. Another option is to buy an expo pass, which will allow you to attend the exhibit hall without paying for a session pass. Finally, choose a trade show in your state (if possible) to avoid extra hotel and restaurant costs.

Medium Budget  ($5K+)

If you have a slightly higher budget and want to walk the floor, your best option is to get a session pass. By spending a little more than an expo pass, you can get a pass that may also include educational seminars. On a medium budget, you may be able to travel, but make sure to select shows that are worth the extra costs.

Larger Budget ($15K+)

On a larger budget you have a lot more flexibility in terms of where you go and how you attend. Perhaps you’ve researched shows across the country and found a couple whose themes and attendees match your audience.

In this case, get a full access pass, schedule meetings ahead of time, and plan your info sessions to ensure you're making the most of the investment.  You might even afford a table or a small booth at this budget.

Big Budget ($30K+)

On a big budget, the best way to enhance visibility is to get a booth as close to the main entrance as possible. While it may be tempting to go big, generally a 10’ x 10’ booth is the perfect size to showcase your brand until you’re ready to invest big in a custom booth setup. More important than size, is the way you brand the booth, the samples you offer, and the associated marketing materials you provide.

If you’re going to exhibit, you must also invest in items like pop-up displays and banners. These don’t have to be extremely expensive, but should be professional and reflective of your key brand message and differentiator.

The bottom line is that your attendance at one particular hemp and cannabis trade show will not make or break your business, so it’s important to learn everything you can and start building your network and client-base first. Then choose a show to enhance visibility, strengthen knowledge, boost sales, and discover suppliers like ACS Laboratory who can help position you as a trusted brand in the industry.

Trade shows have been extremely valuable to our team because CBD & Hemp farmers, industrial hemp manufacturers, medical marijuana treatment centers, and consumers want products that are tested and proven safe. We attend various shows across the country--sometimes as exhibitors, other times as attendees.

You can find us at shows like CBD Expo in Colorado, Cannabis & CBD Wellness Expo in Florida, MJBizCon in Las Vegas and many more. We’d love to meet and talk more about how we can help you strengthen your brand through ISO 17025 accredited hemp, CBD and cannabis testing. For a list of top trade shows by region and purpose, check out Cannabis Business Times.

Give us a call. If we’re at the same show, we’d love to meet up - (813) 634-4529.

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