By Rob Murphy, Published November 13, 2013
Trade shows are a valuable sales and marketing vehicle. They help generate business through qualified leads, build brand awareness and cultivate relationships. To reap the full benefits and to help justify your continued investment in trade show programs, it’s critical to take the time to evaluate your marketing program holistically. By implementing a focused methodology companies can achieve greater results and a better ROI.
Here are the top five reasons you need to exhibit now:
1. Efficient Use of Time
Trade shows are one of the most efficient methods of marketing. It is an opportunity to connect with a lot of customers and prospects in a short amount of time – in one location. And, with cost savings benefits. According to data from the Center for Exhibit Industry Research, it costs 62 percent less to close a lead generated from a trade show than one originated in the field.
After all, trade shows are about people connecting with people, brands, information and business solutions—under one roof. This focus translates into efficiency of time and effort, and therefore, dollars.
An important aspect to remember is to be sure your team engages – and disengages – with the right prospects.
2. More Focused and Isolated Leads
With the ebb and flow of business, budgets may tighten, but the need for new products and services does not necessarily stop. People attending trade shows are serious about doing business. According to a recent study from the Center for Exhibit Industry Research (CEIR), 63 percent of show attendees assign high importance to face-to-face interactions at exhibits in helping with the ‘narrowing of choices’ in the buying process. By not being present at an industry trade show, a company risks missed business opportunities.
Keep in mind, that there are trade shows that are very targeted and specific so you know exactly who will be at the show and on the floor. Think in terms of the quality not quantity of the trade shows in your program.
3. Bold and Unique Advertising Channel with Minimal Risk
A different course to take is to exhibit at a vertical trade show, which allows your brand to connect with a specific audience with- out the distraction of your competitors. Qualify the investment by collecting with the number of leads collected at the show, this can be a good investment.
For example, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the premier show for launching and showcasing what’s new in televisions, hand-held devices and other personal electronics items. This year at the 2014 CES, a major tobacco company, counseled by their exhibit house, will be going to the show to promote their e-cigarette. By thinking out of the box, this tobacco brand can reach a wider audience without the distraction of its competitors.
4. Greater Risk in Being Absent
Consider the long-term effect of not exhibiting at trade shows. Being absent from key shows instantly makes you a non-player in the field and puts your competitors top of mind with customers.
However, simply showing up is not enough. You have to plan how you will attract new leads at the show and how you will follow up with them for effective results.
Look at the whole picture: Make sure your advertising, online marketing, media relations, and public relations are aligned with your overall marketing strategy
Build quality traffic: Consider a variety of new and traditional communication channels such as social media, video, and email, direct mail or print.
Follow-up: Develop a system to organize leads at the show so your team can make immediate contact with your “hottest” leads.
5. Effective Use of Marketing Dollars
Few marketing activities show a clear ROI. Trade show impressions, contacts, leads and sales are measurable results that have an actual value. Overall costs are easily computed.
When reporting results to upper management and boards of directors, ROI is not a luxury—it is essential. Very few companies measure their trade show participation. With measurement motives in place you can fine tune your program—which is a lot easier to do in advance of the show—for better return on your marketing spend. Here are some things you can do for better results:
• Quantify and Qualify: Before you reduce the number of trade shows from your budget, quantify and qualify your investment. Why are we cutting our trade show schedule? Why are we not benefiting from our trade show participation? What are we not doing right?
• Have a Follow-Up Process: Establish a process for following up with sales leads to get the most out of your trade show experience. Are you using all the necessary tools to measure and weigh results properly? Are you gathering and analyzing the right information?
• Get Staff on the Same Page: Engage staff and clearly communicate your company’s strategy to ensure everyone is working toward the same goal. Do you mandate staff training in order to run a well-choreographed, efficient show?
• Don’t Underestimate Your Exhibit’s Design: Consider the architecture of your exhibit to enhance each visitors experience with your company and its brand. Are you using or incorporating rental property in your exhibit? Is your booth design consistent with your branding and messaging platforms?
Face-to-face marketing is a proven effective business strategy for building brand awareness, making business connections, and ultimately, driving sales. Simply put, participating in trade shows makes good business sense. Don’t just show up at your next show. Remember attendees are at trade shows for a reason. Help attendees (your potential customers) get what they came for (a business solution), by taking the time upfront to plan your course of action.