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Why Are Trade Show And Exhibitions Good For Business?
In an increasingly digital world, so-called traditional marketing activities can often take a back seat in favour of social media, online networking and email marketing campaigns.
Which is a pity, because all successful business owners know that to maximise their sales potential they will need to employ a combination of online and offline marketing methods.
Exhibitions and trade shows can be a cost-effective way of reaching a sizable chunk of your target market at a time and place when they are at their most receptive. Let’s face it, the majority of people don’t visit an exhibition out of curiosity; they go because they have a specific purpose in mind: they are on a mission to buy . . . to sell . . . to connect.
Exhibitions can be terrific places to engage with like-minded people, meet new suppliers and seek out potential joint-venture partners for your organisation.
Whilst choosing to exhibit your business doesn’t come cheap, assuming you pick the right venue and plan on hosting a lively display stand, it can be an incredibly cost-effective way to further your business aims quickly.
Things to consider:
1. Choosing the right exhibition
Selecting the right venue for your purpose is absolutely essential so find out in advance what the key demographic is, who will be speaking, what seminars are on offer and so forth before making a commitment.
2. Choose the best space from which to highlight your business
Ideally you will have had an opportunity to visit a particular exhibition a year in advance of the year you plan to exhibit. Floor plans can be helpful; but not nearly as practical as seeing the action in glorious 3D.
There’s no doubt that some event spaces attract a considerably better footfall than others. Middle plots, for example, tend to fare better than those situated around the perimeter of the venue. Understandably you won’t want to be situated right next to the conveniences, however, being positioned en route to a cafe may mean better opportunities for you and your staff to interact with visitors (providing the ‘call of the coffee bean’ isn’t too overwhelming!)
3. Your advance marketing plan
So you’ve chosen your venue and booked your pitch, now the hard work begins in earnest. You will need to create a marketing plan that will attract prospective clients to your stall several months in advance of the exhibition
Things to consider:
Can you (or a colleague) secure a speaker slot at the event? What materials do you plan to give away? Are you planning on organising some kind of interactive activity or experience to entertain your visitors? Will you have access to the event organiser’s marketing list so you can contact visitors beforehand? How will you publicise your presence at the show before, during and after the event? (Think ‘create once, use many times over’ when it comes to producing your library of publicity and marketing materials).
4. Standing out amongst the crowds
The positioning and look of your exhibition display stands will be of paramount importance in drawing visitors to your ‘set’. Professional design is a must to ensure you make the most of every opportunity that comes your way. One way of attracting quality leads is to build your display around a theme or niche. Rather than being restrictive, niche marketing can help you ‘hook’ highly targeted prospects who are genuinely interested in your offering, so you don’t waste a second of your precious time trying to engage people who are merely humouring you.
5. Capturing ‘genuine’ leads
Asking visitors to drop their business cards into a glass container for the chance of winning a prize might make for a large collection of business cards, but is little help in evaluating prospects’ need for your product or service. Far better to arm your team with pre-printed notepads so they can actively get out in the field and get the information you need to convert visitors into buyers.
6. Follow up leads and evaluate your success
Get your sales team to hit those phones as soon as possible following the event. Which prospects require more information from you? Would they like to book a demonstration? A meeting? A 30-day trial? Progress all your leads as far as possible and don’t give up at the first sign of a “no”. Frequently “no” means “not just now” rather than “not ever”.
If you’ve got your marketing strategy right, then you should be attracting genuine, high-quality leads who are interested in doing business with you, but whatever the outcome it’s vital to go through a period of evaluation: what went brilliantly? What, not so well? Overall, what have you learned from the experience?
Share this information amongst your colleagues and associates and start planning for your next big event – and the very best of luck to you!