If you’ve ever been to a trade show, you know that there are both positives and negatives of exhibiting or attending. Many booths feature contests and alluring visuals that captivate attention, generating buzz throughout the hall. Others are quiet and simply wait for attendees to approach them. Whether you have a successful trade show experience or an unfulfilled one, there are many advantages and disadvantages of attending.
“99% of marketers said they found unique value from trade shows they did not get from other marketing mediums.” (CEIR) There are many advantages of attending trade shows making them a valuable marketing tool to consider. A few advantages include connecting face-to-face, showing off your team and materials and generating sales are just three positive factors trade shows provide.
Nothing is better than connecting with someone face-to-face. In fact, “51% of exhibitors said they value face-to-face meetings with prospects and customers, and 47% said they value the ability to meet with a variety of players face to face, such as customers, suppliers, resellers, etc.” (CEIR) Meeting prospects for the first time and building better partnerships with current clients are two face-to-face relationships trade shows allow you to focus on. With prospects, first impressions are everything. It only takes one quick second to form an opinion on a booth or a team, so making your company stand out is crucial for a lasting impression. Prepare your team with materials and talking points to know the ins and outs of your product or service seamlessly. Having a knowledgeable and approachable team standing at your booth will draw traffic. Further relationships with your current clients by exhibiting alongside of each other, treating them to a nice dinner and spending time getting to know their team better. Contests, giveaways, promotions or other creative tactics can be used to increase brand awareness, engagement and lead generation. Prospects and clients should leave a trade show knowing who you are, what you do and visualize faces with your company name.
Showcasing Team and Materials
The most important part of a trade show is your team. Decide who from your company will attend and create goals to hold your team accountable. Engage in as many conversations as possible. Be prepared to answer questions about your company and its products or services. Have your booth display set your company apart from the hundreds of other booths. Decide if you’re attending the show to receive customer feedback, test a new pitch or product or find new clients, distributors or employees. Have your team prepare materials you want to leverage. Booth displays, brochures, business cards, your pitch, sales and marketing pieces and videos are a few items to create or update before attending. Utilizing resources that elevate your brand through compelling content and appealing visuals will be a major advantage.
“67% of all attendees represent a new prospect and potential customer for exhibiting companies.” The biggest advantage of attending trade shows is the opportunity to generate sales. Before attending, determine the amount of sales leads you’re looking to generate to help move ROI. After the show, analyze to discover the outcome. Measure the number of leads you connected with and if that number matched, exceeded or fell short of your goal. Tracking generated sales and revenue from shows is the biggest challenge because contracts are not usually signed at the show itself. Incorporating post show strategies is a huge component when pursuing leads and generating sales. Reach out to prospects on LinkedIn, make personal phone calls, send emails or put contacts in a workflow. Connecting with leads will build relationships that could help sales teams close the deal. Trade shows are a great place to find sales opportunities because people attend to find a certain product or service, see what companies are selling and establish new connections. Put your company on your industry’s map.
While trade shows have many benefits, there are a few disadvantages as well. Expenses are usually the biggest concern for attendees, while difficulties measuring ROI and endless hours of preparation also come to mind.
Money is one factor that can make or break a decision to attend an event. Planning a trade show isn’t
just about setting up a booth and having your team work its magic, there are many monetary components involved in the process. Trade shows are a great networking opportunity; however, they come with a laundry list of expenses. The first expense happens as soon as you enroll to attend or exhibit. According to Exhibit USA, “industry average to purchase individual portable trade show booths is $100 - $150 per square foot.” With the booth, comes marketing and sales materials to display or handout. While having a conversation with attendees is free, making a lasting connection may not be. Many companies are remembered because of a contest, giveaway or promotion they leveraged. Booking airline tickets, car rentals, Ubers or other forms of transportation are just one expense before even setting foot in the door. Hotel rooms, food and drinks for multiple days, nights and people are major expenses that add up over the extent of your trip. Booth spaces can also be pricey. Budgeting out your pre, during and post show expenses will help your team watch finances closely and leave out surprises when checking the final bank statement.
Difficult to Measure ROI
Did you know that just 21% of B2B companies are successful at tracking ROI of their content marketing?” Return on investment is a result that all attendees strive to measure after returning from a trade show. It may take a long period of time to close sales leads from the show because usually deals are not finalized at the exhibition. Estimating the percentage of trade show leads that will result in sales is a way to keep your team accountable and on track when measuring ROI. Determine the value of each sale and the time it will take to close the deal. Be patient when diagnosing revenue analytics. Don’t get discouraged if results aren’t prominent immediately. Measuring ROI to see if sales and leads generated cover the initial trade show expense is stressful, yet necessary when diagnosing your trade show experience. Calculate the amount of money that the trade show will cost your company and then determine the number of sales you will need to break even on your expense. Even consider ROI that isn’t number-based, like brand awareness. Establish a value for leads and appointments. For example, if you generate 10 leads and your value of a lead is $100, the total amount will be $1000.
Lots of Preparation
Seamless trade show execution doesn’t happen overnight. It requires hours, days, weeks, even months of preparation. Planning and organizing events isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Decide who will run point from your team. Who will attend the show, prepare sales and marketing materials, create your booth set-up and determine trade show objectives? There is also research about the flight, hotel and overall show that needs to be completed. Spending a lengthy amount of time to attend a one to five-day event may not be worth the preparation for many organizations. From the time you enroll in the show to months after the show, preparation and engagement are required every step of the way.
Trade shows have many advantages and disadvantages. It is up to you and your team to determine if the positives outweigh the negatives. Is attending a trade show worth your time, effort and results? Or are there other prospecting strategies you can implement to save money, time and preparation that generate the same results? Trade shows may be beneficial for your team, but maybe you’re not making the most out of your trade show experience. Click here to see if you’re implementing these tactics to move ROI.