I have a confession, one of the things I like least about working in marketing is event planning and trade shows. I think there is a certain misconception about event planning being some kind of glamorous occupation but for most event planners it’s a deadline-driven, logistics heavy, thankless role. Each time I sit down to review an exhibitors’ manual for an upcoming trade show, I get hit with a wave of pessimism that always makes me wonder, if trade shows are such an old-school tactic, why do people even participate in them anymore? But as much as a little part of my digital marketing soul dies when I start juggling material handling fees, warehouse deadlines, carrier shipment quotes and everything else that goes into executing a successful event presence, trade shows and events are very important – and I’m going to tell you 5 reasons why.
5. Nothing Substitutes Face-to-Face Networking
It goes without saying that trade shows are a valuable networking opportunity, but I cannot stress enough that this really is the prime time for your representatives to serve as brand ambassadors and expand your network. It’s one of the few chances where you have prospects coming directly to you, so use your time and talent wisely and make sure your booth staff recognizes the importance of getting out and networking.
4. Trade Shows Are Becoming More Interactive
Any trade show worth participating in realizes there is a need to create more of a digital and interactive show experience. I’ve seen some show organizers leverage social media and digital content to get guests and sponsors conversing, sometimes even before they hit the exhibit floor. If your organization is planning to participate in an upcoming trade show, be sure to take note of what social media and digital avenues they are utilizing to engage with attendees and follow suit. Come up with some ideas for how to make your display more interactive – perhaps through digital or social platforms or even gamification tactics. Having an interactive presence will create buzz that results in more contacts, opportunities and revenue.
3. It’s Your Chance to Size-up the Competition
Hopefully you don’t accidentally get placed directly next to your competition, but trade shows are a great opportunity to see what your competitors are up to and take note of their strengths and weaknesses; Whether it be in the delivery of their sales pitch of perhaps they had a really cool display idea you want to keep in mind for your next event. Most large shows continue for at least a couple days, so you have plenty of time to make your way to all the other booths and kiosks to see what’s happening with your competitors. Size up the competition, cherry pick what you like and don’t like and start building an arsenal of ideas to implement for the future. After all, imitation is the highest form of flattery.
2. You Will Increase Brand Awareness in Immeasurable Ways
Whether your organization is a meager, young startup or the Apple of Whos-Its Suppliers, trade shows give prospects a personal interaction with your brand and help raise awareness about your products and services. I think the best event presence an organization can have is one that is focused on demonstrating value and knowledge, not a presence that is going to be overly sales or marketing oriented. Find a creative way to engage and educate your booth attendees to amplify this awareness and get prospects talking about your business. You will simultaneously increase awareness about your business and your industry credibility.
1. Generating Sales Leads
Most importantly, if you implement the proper strategies, trade shows are an extremely valuable tool for generating sales leads. The show attendees are already interested in what you have to sell, so take advantage of the opportunity to convert that interest into a qualified lead. With thorough planning, a strategic booth setup and solid brand ambassadors to educate and demonstrate value, you will be able to build an even deeper and more dimensional pipeline of qualified leads. This engagement shouldn’t come to a halt once your show comes to an end, ensure you have the proper work flows in place for following up with prospects and determine how you will nurture your leads into eventual customers.
Keep these 5 points in mind and you’re sure to have a successful trade show presence that generates immense value for your organization.