Published February 2019
Updated October 2022
Today, more than ever, marketing is all about relationships.
We are continuing to shy away from the traditional practice of just pushing products and, instead, putting an emphasis on building real connections with customers. Event marketing offers a unique opportunity in this changing industry as we are able to be face-to-face with our audience. What better way to build a relationship with a customer than meeting them in person?
Trade shows have traditionally been a very popular way to market your products, service and business. With advances in social media marketing and internet technology, like webinars, Google hangouts and video conferencing, the value and benefits of marketing in trade shows increases. Though technology is changing marketing at a rapid pace, there are several benefits from having an exhibit presence at a trade show.
Trade show marketing has been popular for decades. Pulling off trade shows may sound far from easy, but it is still one of the most rewarding forms of marketing when done with an intentional strategy. Not only is exhibiting results-oriented but it also lays an ideal platform to boost up the conversion rate of your business. Besides, trade shows offer a captive, interested audience of like-minded prospects and current customers providing you an efficient way to get more out of your marketing dollars.
When you are able to shake hands with a potential client, look them in the eye and speak to them face-to-face, your message will resonate. This experience cannot be recreated digitally-- making trade shows the perfect venue to reach customers directly.
Why trade shows? Let’s start with the obvious reason:
A trade show offers a rare platform where you can market and sell in the same place. Trade shows offer you a platform to market to your customers and then sell your product to those exact same customers. Even though marketing is typically a way to direct the customer to your store or website, since a good majority of the sales process is done right then and there, the funnel from first exposure to purchase is much shorter. Shorter lead nurturing means more sales.
Exhibiting at a trade show gives your company’s sales team an unprecedented level of access to important prospects, all without the resentment and apprehension that characterizes traditional direct sales. Typical objections disappear as customers are in a buying mood and most likely have paid to enter the trade show and purchase from you.
With the right strategy, every trade show you attend is an opportunity to drastically expand your company’s customer base. The people who attend trade shows tend to be motivated, interested in the products or services your company offers, and often ready to commit to a deal on the spot. Larger trade shows can produce hundreds of qualified leads, laying the foundation for new client sales during and after the show.
In short, these leads are much more worthwhile than names and numbers picked out of a business directory.
Capitalize on this opportunity. Prospects rarely give up their time; but at a trade show, they do so enthusiastically. View every interaction with a prospect as a chance to close the deal and you’ll exit the trade show with a typical month's worth of sales.
When generating leads, most companies are faced with the obstacle of finding an interested audience. When cold selling, you are working with limited information and you're often going into a pitch blind. The result is a lot of hang-ups and one-way emails. With event marketing, you're given the advantage of knowing that everyone you speak to will have an interest in or use for what you sell. Why? Trade shows gather groups within a specific industry and the result is guaranteed access to your target audience.
Lower Cost Per Sale – A trade show provides multiple buyers to interact with companies. This reduces the cost per sale instead of approaching buyers one by one.
Time Saving – A lot of valuable time is saved with trade shows, especially when compared with setting individual appointments. Furthermore these trade shows take care of the buyers, enabling them to make quick purchasing decisions.
Showcase New Products & Services
Trade shows are one of the best venues to feature your latest cutting-edge product offerings. Nothing beats a hands-on demonstration of an innovative product.
Launching a new product at a trade show is the best way to maximize exposure and connect directly with consumers. Exhibits that incorporate creative product display solutions help set the stage to build face-to-face connections throughout the trade show. Allowing customers to experience the new product firsthand will increase interest and drive sales, even after the show has ended.
When it comes to influencing a decision, nothing can compete with face-to-face interaction. Trade shows provide opportunities to engage with current customers and attendees. It doesn’t matter whether you’re marketing a service or selling your new product, an in-person presentation and short question based conversation afterward can help you to close the deal quickly versus an email sharing the latest sales promo.
From visibility to credibility, exhibiting at a trade show has hundreds of benefits for your business. Establishing a presence, whether big or small, for your company at a trade show gives you a powerful platform for meeting new customers, reaching out to your existing customer base, and building a more established and reliable brand.
Attending a trade show is one of the best ways for businesses and organizations to stay ahead of their competition. Trade shows are often the place that companies use as a testing ground for new products, processes, ideas and strategies. Doing market surveillance on the competition allows a company to see what their competition might be launching or focusing on in the coming months or even over the next year.
Performing market research also exposes companies to products and trends that they might not have knowledge of otherwise – whether they’re from the competition or not.
Obtain feedback and opinions from customers
One of the best ways to improve your brand is to seek feedback from existing customers and prospects. You can accomplish this with the help of a short survey of attendees.
Surveys can provide valuable information regarding customer preferences and frustrations.
Listen to this Customer Feedback
Trade shows present the unique opportunity to receive real-time feedback on your products and services. Understanding how customers interact with your brand provides valuable insight that will help your company improve and customize marketing efforts.
Be sure to listen to current customers as well as prospects, to understand how customer’s needs can be met at every step of the buyer’s journey.
One of the biggest reasons why trade shows are important is that they give you and your employees the gift of time. If an attendee approaches your booth, you have about three seconds to capture their attention, but once you’ve done so, you have the unique opportunity to educate them in a way that an ad or email blast just isn’t going to do.
For one, your target audience is right in front of you. You can now introduce them to your product and show them your company’s unique value proposition – that is, what makes your company different and why the attendee should do business with you.
Too many people forget that when it comes to trade shows, education is a two-way street. Even as you’re educating the attendee on your product and why it can solve or alleviate their business needs, they’re educating you on what those business needs are – valuable information that you can use to help shape how your company’s products progress in the future.
Trade shows are great opportunities to learn which direction your industry is (and isn’t) going. During a slow period, leave your booth and walk around the floor on a fact-finding mission searching for what your competitors are doing and/or offering.
Look at the type of giveaways that people remember, and take note of the type they forget. Pose as a customer and ask your competitors for price lists and information about their latest products. After a couple of hours on the sales floor, you’ll be able to piece together the sales strategies and marketing tactics of your competitors.
Businesses are always looking for ways to grow their brand and build brand awareness with their customers. This is one of the reasons why trade shows are important – they give companies a way to get their brand in front of new or existing customers, no matter whether they come to the show as an attendee or an exhibitor.
Branded events and trade shows are important because they have a huge influence on consumers’ intent to purchase goods: according to a survey by Statista, 74% of responders said they were more likely to purchase products that had been promoted at a trade show.
Branding is a huge aspect of business success, especially in industries that depend on trust and reputation. Exhibiting at a trade show is a wonderful way to tell your industry that your company is serious, reliable, and large enough to afford its own presence at leading events and conferences.
By using your exhibit strategically, you can even position your company as being part of a niche within your market. Positioning your booth next to your industry’s ‘blue chip’ companies creates a powerful psychological image that can help your company move from startup to established brand in the eyes of your customers.
With the right strategy, even a small startup can strengthen its brand by exhibiting at a trade show.
By exhibiting your products and services at a trade show, you are solidifying your company’s industry presence. Thus, just your presence at the trade show will build your company’s status as a legitimate resource for industry solutions.
Reaffirm confidence among existing clients
Your company’s continued presence at trade shows from one year to the next shows your customers that your company is alive and well. Be careful when you skip an annual show as your customers will think you’ve gone out of business. If you do decide to take a year off (not recommended) see if you can sponsor something at that trade show or be included in an exhibit guide.
Move your excess inventory
This is a reason to exhibit in trade shows that is often overlooked. If your warehouse is busting at the seams with excess inventory, you can offer special pricing on overstocked items and sell them during the event. Be careful: don’t let the products you bring to the show keep you from your main goal of making connections, appointments, and answering potential customer’s questions. If you can manage to bring a product that doesn’t get in the way of any of that, you could earn your booth rent back.
You can also use these overstock items as giveaways to key customers.
One of the other reasons why trade shows are important for businesses is that it gives them networking opportunities. Even if you get nothing else out of the show, you can spend time with others in your industry and share experiences and expertise.
Trade shows are a great place for networking for the sole purpose of meeting those influential people that are nearly impossible to get a hold of. It's also much easier to build a connection in this environment, since your customer is able to put a face to your name and is not just dealing with another voice on the other end of the phone.
Establishing A Rapport
When it comes to marketing, you’re always fighting against the competition. However, business-to-business (B2B) marketing narrows the field even further. At this level, it can be difficult to be part of the fierce competition. Gate keepers exist in both the physical and virtual realms – from receptionists to email spam filters, there is a definite priority to block cold callers and advertisers from bothering the company’s decision makers.
This is why trade shows are important: attending a trade show gives you an opportunity to get on a new customer’s radar as a product or company that they need to watch. Suddenly, you’re not spam anymore – you’re someone to watch and interact with.
Negotiations & Orders
Trade shows help bring all the different aspects of an industry together – consumers, distributors, suppliers and manufacturers, all in one place. With such a broad audience together in one place, businesses are able to schedule meetings, negotiate orders, and also provide opportunities to collaborate on other projects. Trade shows allow businesses to facilitate discussions with their suppliers and even with other businesses, as well as move projects to another level if the opportunity arises. One new distributor relationship forged at a trade show can lead to a significant increase in your revenue. And who knows – the exhibitor across the aisle from your booth may turn out to be your future business partner.
Expand your industry contacts
As a trade show exhibitor, you will have access to the exhibitor handbook and contact information of the other companies that are participating in the expo. These contacts may prove to be valuable to you in the future.
Recruit new employees
Trade shows are full of accomplished industry professionals. Some of these individuals are in search of a new employer. Your next great sales representative could be the enthusiastic trade show attendee who stops by your booth and falls in love with your latest product.
ROI is everything. With event marketing, businesses are given a little more reassurance. There is less uncertainty because you are guaranteed to reach your target audience based on the type of trade show you attend, and surveys show that around half of attendees plan to buy what they see exhibited within 12 months after an event.
Have you researched trade shows to find the best choice for your company? Do you have an experienced, capable sales team? If so, exhibiting at a trade show is a great way to transform your business from a small startup into a talked-about, profitable, and highly effective enterprise.
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