Why Exhibit at Trade Shows?
Recently I’ve seen some discussions on LinkedIn about the efficacy of trade shows vs. digital marketing. I also just had a conversation with a client about the importance of trade event marketing as part of a robust marketing strategy.
Trade shows are expensive and for many companies in our community, the biggest spend in their marketing budget. But not exhibiting at a major trade event may probably be more expensive in terms of opportunity costs and growth.
Here are some of my best reasons to exhibit at B2B trade shows:
Expanding your personal network. Meeting NEW people has probably the highest ROI in face to face marketing for you and your sales team.
Awareness. Maybe you are exactly like every other company or product in your field but—you showed up to the show. You promoted your attendance, you put the booth together, you brought the A Team and you worked the show.
Branding. Who are you? What is your company all about? What is your competitive differentiator? What is your message? Trade shows are great places to support and promote your brand, value message and the customer experience.
Introducing a new product or a new service offering. Video and animations are really important and so are events like webinars.But nothing beats seeing and touching that new tool, service, software or accessory in real life.
Staying in touch with existing clients. You never know who is going to a trade event. Calling them ahead of time is a great way to plan breakfast, dinner, lunch or a site visit.
Looking for new partners and suppliers. Machines, robots and systems have hundreds of suppliers and they are usually participating at shows and likely have a booth.
Seeking new employees? There are lots of salespeople at tradeshows. If you need a new sales pro, then “fish where the fish are” is one of my sayings. Simply post a sign or a banner: “Looking for Sales Professionals” in Michigan and invite and start conversations.
Telling stories. Stories are memorable. Trade events are a place where you’ll hear many of them and visitors recounting “I heard this when I was at the XYZ show”.
Customer listening. There is a certain intimacy at trade shows. People—think competitors, and prospects— will share important information face to face that they would never talk about over email, Zoom or Teams.
Breaking bread with prospects. When traveling to or exhibiting at a trade event, never eat alone. It’s one of my rules. Even if you are an introvert like me: planning your networking, and creating opportunities to connect are important, and meals make it easy.
Speaking at the show and demonstrating thought leadership. This is my number one rule at trade events. If you sign up for an event, also consider getting onstage. Bonus points if you bring a customer with you.
Finding new sales opportunities. This is probably one of the top reasons to exhibit. One of the things that I like about trade shows is the randomness. You don’t know who is going to come into your booth and tell you about their manufacturing problem.
Creating a brand touchpoint. Maybe you have had a few interactions with a prospect, but 8 times seems to be an optimum number of interactions before a sale happens. Trade events count as a touchpoint.
Demonstrating innovation. If you are innovative, prove it at a trade show. Speak, promote, video, demonstrate and then do it again.
Show me. The automation and robotics industry still remains a “show-me” industry. Engineers, manufacturers, integrators and accessory manufacturers like to see the products that they are recommending.
Meet key people with purchasing power. Often these are the people that you’ll never make contact with unless at a tradeshow: people on buying teams, presidents, CTOs and project managers. They probably don’t answer their phones but they like to attend shows.
Trade events have to have a positive ROI, and should be part of a well planned and thoughtful marketing plan. Planning and execution is critically important, your follow up process too.
I offer my friends and clients a trade show report template that can capture many of the results of a trade event. It can be reviewed a year, every year or 5 years later to judge success in trade show marketing. If you’re interested in the template send me an email info@customerattraction dot com. I’d be happy to share.