Did you know that exhibiting at shows and events started back at The Great International Exhibition of 1851? This was the first International Trade Fair. The U.S. hosted a “rash” of world and state fairs from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s. Entrepreneurs and businessmen developed their own specialized trade shows. Exhibiting locally manufactured goods in a temporary local or regional marketplace gained increasing popularity and trade associations added exhibits to convention programs
Knowing this history may help us all understand that exhibiting at shows and events is still a great way for face-to-face marketing to generate new leads, maintain existing customers and keep your brand exposed in the environment.
Exhibiting Trends will impact your trade show display booth and knowing there are time limitations by attendees makes us really focus on the pre-show marketing to prepare for the show. There has been an increase in buying teams at events compared to a single company representative.
How are you grabbing the attention of your audience while exhibiting at a trade show>? Are you experiential exhibiting? Do you focus your attention on building current customer relationships? If not, this is the time. There are fewer attendees at trade shows, BUT those attendees are more focused and looking to buy from the right company.
While preparing for your trade show budget, see how the exhibit dollar is spent on the national average:
It is important to know what are fixed costs (show related costs to the Trade Show) and what are variable costs (discretionary costs that you can control) for the exhibitor. One third of the dollars spent is on the exhibitor space which is nonnegotiable and is required to pay to be in the trade show. Services are also nonnegotiable – you have to pay I&D (installation and dismantle if over a certain size display). Travel and Entertainment are variable expenses. Depending on the number of people you are sending to the show, hospitality, etc. are also included in the variable expenses. Many companies can cut costs here. They tend to zero in on exhibit design and try to find ways to stretch their dollar. Exhibit design is only 11.1% of the overall average cost. This is where your Exhibit House has an opportunity with portable modular products to help customers stretch their investment in a display. *They may purchase a new display but if purchasing a portable and/or modular display, this is a much better investment due to the ease of set up, ability to reconfigure, lightweight, which in turn saves on transportation, drayage etc.
What are exhibitors looking for if they decide to invest in exhibiting at a trade show? Be prepared for customers to get value out of their investment. Now more people are involved in purchasing decisions. This means the sales person has more people to educate that stop by their booth. There is a demand for metrics and measure performance – there are still a number of companies that do not measure their performance at shows. This should not come to a surprise if a company decides to cut their budget for shows unless they can learn to measure and show results.
Knowing all of the above costs, it is imperative that exhibitors pre-plan their promotions for exhibiting at a show. You only have 3.8 seconds to catch the attention of prospects when you invest in a trade show. EXHIB-IT! always looks to your future. If your needs today are modest, we will recommend ideas that allow growth as your needs evolve, while preserving your initial investment.
Part of the pre-show promotion should include:
Determine how trade shows can strengthen your present marketing strategy. Do you want to: Increase existing products/services in existing markets? Introduce new products/services into existing markets? Introduce existing products/services into new markets? Introduce new products/services into new markets?
Here are some great reasons to Exhibit at Trade Shows, Conferences or Events!
• Introduce new products. Trade shows are successful vehicles for introducing new product lines. These trade shows also give you the opportunity to pre-sell your product line. In addition, trade shows allow you to feature the company's premiere product or unveil seasonal offerings to consumers or distributors.
• Make contact with distributors. Trade shows are successful vehicles for introducing new product lines. These trade shows also give you the opportunity to pre-sell your product line. In addition, trade shows allow you to feature the company's premiere product or unveil seasonal offerings to consumers or distributors.
• Build relationships. Trade shows build the way for future relationships. At the show, you may see current customers, sales representatives, distributors or members of the media. Current customers will be happy to see you and may introduce you to someone who could do business with you. If your product is interesting enough, you may catch the attention of a reporter who wants to do an article about you or your company.
• Generation of mass amount of Leads. The average sales person makes client field visits to 2.7 prospects per day. Based on 5 days per week 50 weeks per year = 675 face to face meetings Compare Example 2,500 attendees divided by 2 trade show days - 13 show hours = 203 prospects per hour= 3.39 prospects per minute.
• Lower Advertising Costs. There is no other type of Advertising were prospects pay money and take time out of there busy days to listen to sales pitches.
• Cost of closing a sale is cheaper. The Trade Show Bureau claims that the average total cost of closing a sale in the field is $1,080, while the cost of closing a sale to a qualified trade show prospect is $419.
• Levels the Playing Field. Trade shows help level the playing field for smaller firms, since booth space is generally inexpensive ($22.32 per square foot on average, with the typical small booth covering 100 square feet), and even small companies can usually afford attractive displays.
After you determine all of these pre-show objectives, discuss strategies with your staff. Schedule a pre-Show Briefing to go over the details of the show. Quantify what is a qualified lead and set a goal of how many leads to obtain from each show. Have a booth overview planned to be sure all things are scheduled to be sent to the show. Develop a staff schedule ahead of time so all are in the know of expectations at the show. It is important to understand the staff’s strengths and their skill lever for working the show.
Don’t just rely on Show Management though. Hopefully they have done a great job of promoting the show for their attendees, but what about the focus for marketing to your target market? Send out invitations to invite those in your database or near the show area to come visit you at the show. Have you sent out a Press Release if it is a large show or if you have a new product or service? If not, be sure to do this as it will build your brand. If you can, use viral marketing and create web announcements, newsletters, and put the show information on your web site to cross promote for the show.
For today’s tradeshow needs, be sure to set up social media avenues and consider live videos on site to post on YouTube.com and link back to your web site. Building a brand is important through exhibiting at trade shows in addition to the combination of traditional, digital and social media marketing for your business to be successful in today’s competitive intelligence environment.
What is the best way to go about looking for new products and ideas during a trade show? Be sure to preview the show book ahead of time and see who is offering new products and services. Do the products and services being offered tie into anything you are in the market for? IN today’s marketplace, time is of essence. If you need to find a new product and the show offers a floor plan with named exhibitors and the updated floor plan shows the who, what, when and where aspects of each company, do your homework. Research out the exhibitors who are marketing products or services you need.
When walking a trade show, also pre-select the booths you want to visit and allow that time to go view each display booth. Have they marketed their products and services in a way that makes you want to enter their booth? If not, pass them by and go to the next exhibiting company pre-selected on your list. It is all about the brand and image and what the company backs up their brand and image with. Be wise and don’t be fooled by the company that tells a good story, but does not walk that same story. Look for the companies that talk and talk the brand. They have a corporate persona that attracts you into their booth.