ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Purpose of a Trade Show: Selling, Networking or Both?

Updated on February 24, 2016

If you have ever been an exhibitor or planned to exhibit at a trade show, you’ve probably been told that establishing goals before the show is essential to the success of your investment in the show. This piece of advice couldn’t be more true, but a lot of times exhibitors find themselves with goals that are either too narrow or too broad. This tends to happen when we don’t focus on our underlying purpose. In order to determine your purpose at a trade show it helps to determine the point of the business lifecycle that you’re at.

The business lifecycle consists of Start Up, Growth, Expansion, Maturity and Exit. Knowing where your business is at in terms of lifecycle, will help you determine what types of interactions will benefit your business the most.

Lifecycle Points
Challenges
Trade Show Goals
Startup
Establishing Brand
Networking
Growth
Managing Sales/Growth
Selling
Expansion
New Markets
Networking/Selling
Maturity
Continued Expansion
Networking
Exit
Selling the Business
Networking

Start Up:

If your business is in the start up stage, then you are just getting off the ground and trying to establish your brand. Presence and reputation are key to establishing a good brand. If this is where your business lies, you may find that networking is your best course of action at a trade show at this point in time. People don’t know you yet, and this is your chance to establish connections and a memorable experience with your brand.

Knowing that your purpose at this trade show is to establish yourself, your goals should then reflect that purpose. Rather than lending efforts to selling 100,000 units or sign ups, you’re probably better served by putting your attention into increasing your social media following or designing an interactive questionnaire to get people thinking about why your product/service would benefit them in your life. Recognizing where your time and effort will be spent depending on your purpose and goals will add to the success of your show.

Growth:

Maybe you have already made it through the Start Up aspects of your business, people know and recognize your brand and keeping up with demand is your biggest challenge right now. If this is the case, you probably already have a large Facebook and Twitter following and maybe even have a hard time keeping product on the shelves.

If the Growth stage is where you find yourself in, then your primary focus should be on selling. Trade shows are great arena for businesses that are in their growth stage. In many cases, a trade show can be the most profitable event of the year or season. If you’re focusing on selling, you may want to consider “show only” promotions or new member deep discounts. One thing you’ll want to be careful of though, is not being able to keep up with the demand. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the size of your audience and come prepared to handle it.

Expansion:

Once your business has surpassed the Growth stage, you may find yourself in the Expansion portion of the lifecycle. At this point, you may be considering expanding your product line or markets that you distribute to. In this scenario, focusing a portion of your efforts on networking and the other on selling may be a great option. The Expansion stage allows you to fully take advantage of branding and bringing in more revenue at the same time without falling short of one or both of your goals.

Remember, the networking crowd and the selling crowd, are often two different sets of audiences. Make sure that you are equipped to meet the needs of both. This may include different handouts or sales materials depending on what they are interested in.

Maturity:

Eventually your business will mature and you’ll have some decisions to make, but just because it is mature, doesn’t mean you can’t still make money. Whether you’re going to focus on selling or networking might depend on the industry that you’re in. You may even decide that a trade show isn’t the best use of capital or resources at this point in the game. Because there are so many different types of businesses and industries, it is hard to say what the correct approach is. You will have to closely analyze your business and determine what you’re wanting to accomplish at this point.

Not all businesses are created equal, and some points of the lifecycle affect some business models differently than others. This is a great reference point, but as with any business advice, it is important that you properly assess based on the unique characteristics of your own business. Trade shows can be a great resource for both networking and selling. Recognizing your current needs and strengths will help you plan a more successful event.

If your business was in the Expansion Stage, what would you focus your efforts on?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)