Archives for the ‘Tradeshows’ Category

Are Tradeshows 21st Century Dinosaurs?

I interviewed Jeff Wells, an expert in tradeshow marketing. While most people are aware the current economy has caused the number of tradeshow attendees to decrease, the good news is that the quality of the attendees is up, and the shows are still effective. More upper management and decision makers are coming to recent shows which makes it even more important for companies to use their tradeshow budgets effectively.

No Virginia, tradeshows are not dead

The eye-opening statistics tend to surprise even the savviest of executives pondering the power of tradeshow marketing. On average, eight out of 10 exhibition attendees have buying influence, with 37% having the final say in the purchasing decision. And, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), more than half are planning a purchase in the next 12 months. Best of all, these potential customers aren’t waiting for a sales rep to call. They’re coming to the doorstep of every tradeshow booth.

Tradeshows are an excellent forum for decision makers to evaluate new products, make new contacts, enhance supplier relationships and conduct purchasing activities. More and more, companies are including exhibitions in the selling and marketing process.

Planning the Power

But just filling a booth space doesn’t guarantee sales leads. In the “Power of Exhibition” papers, CEIR identified successful exhibitors as those who integrate marketing tools in their exhibition activities and set, measure and quantify objectives. Show participation is also an opportunity to gain further exposure for a company’s message and brand. It is important to integrate your marketing message and brand into your booth planning in order to keep a consistent company image.

As part of the pre-show process, determine which tradeshows and booth space are right for you. Wells recommends checking an independent audit of show attendees, growth and market. Check if your competitors are in the show and whether other exhibitors are potential prospects for your product or service. And remember that advertising, targeted direct mail and staff training all help to attract more people and increase lead-to-sales conversion.

Generating Traffic

When considering booth space, bigger is better, but the dimensions need to fit your needs. Important factors to consider are: anticipated audience, number of sales people, product size and what the competition is doing. Location is subjective. A front booth space implies status, while some companies prefer to be near their direct competitors. Figure on spending $250 a square foot for a small linear exhibit to approximately $170 per square foot for a 30 x 40 single-level island.

To draw more attention to your booth, consider using live, professional actors who can deliver a presentation to an audience. People relate better to people, compared with letting video and computers tell the story. A well-attended booth involves many senses and emotions. We take in information through an integrated, complex system that involves sight, touch, emotion, hearing, smell and taste. We like to be entertained and stimulated, so the more senses, emotions and experiences the exhibitor can utilize, the better the message is received and remembered.

Wrapping It Up

Thank people who stopped at your booth to listen to your presentation with a small, but valuable gift. Give-aways don’t need to be expensive, but should be important enough that you wouldn’t give one away to anybody who hasn’t first given you their time. Formally thank the same people immediately after the show by sending out a note — then transfer the lead to the appropriate people. Follow up on those leads, get a report on the activity and quantify your results.

Companies often wonder whether they can participate in a tradeshow without outside assistance. Small, regional shows may only involve a table-top or pop-up exhibit and can often be handled well internally. National and international shows, however, require a great deal of planning, resources and knowledge, and most companies choose to partner with professionals who can plan and execute all segments involved with show participation. No matter what scale, tradeshows are important to the selling process.

Tradeshows enable a company to meet with a large number of new prospects, to strengthen the relationships with existing customers and to analyze the market as well as competitors. That’s a wealth of opportunities brought right to your doorstep.

Jeff’s Top 6 Tradeshow Success Tips & Tricks
  1. It’s not the number of leads you generate, but the quality of the leads and whether your message was right that are important.
  2. Comfortable, but appropriate shoes are a must for booth staff.
  3. Set quantifiable sales-related objectives for every show and consistently measure them.
  4. Even though approximately 80% of the literature collected at a tradeshow ends up in the hotel trashcan, it’s important to bring marketing materials that project the right message and create a larger-than-life image for your company.
  5. Trained staff can qualify a person in 30 seconds.
  6. It takes 1.3 calls to close a sale that is a follow up from a tradeshow vs. 3.7 calls where there is no tradeshow lead.