An introduction to the benefits of exhibiting if you haven't taken the plunge yet
From visibility to credibility, exhibiting at a trade show has hundreds of benefits for your business. Establishing a presence, whether big or small, for your company at a trade show gives you a powerful platform for meeting new customers, reaching out to your existing clientèle, and building a more established and reliable brand.
One of the largest exhibitions - CES Las Vegas. Image credit - AskDaveTaylor.
A lot of businesses are put off exhibiting at a trade show because of the cost. It’s true – developing a great trade show exhibit, training your staff members, and travelling to the event itself isn’t a very cheap process. However, like most forms of marketing, with the right strategy, a trade show can be a very profitable choice.
In this run-down, we discuss the four core benefits of exhibiting at a trade show.
Generate lucrative, highly targeted business leads
With the right strategy, every trade show you attend is an opportunity to drastically expand your company’s customer base. The people who attend trade shows tend to be motivated, interested in the products or services your company offers, and often ready to commit to a deal on the spot.
In short, they’re much more worthwhile leads than names and numbers picked out of a business directory.
Make your sales goals clear to your team before your next trade show and ask them to generate as many leads as possible. A good show could keep your sales team busy for months connecting with prospects and closing deals.
- Establish key sales goals before the event to give your team an objective
- Interact with all visitors to your exhibit, as they could turn into customers
- Keep notes of your interactions so that you can follow up after the event
Learn what’s working (and what isn't)
Trade shows are great opportunities to learn which direction your industry is (and isn’t) going in. During a slow period, leave your booth and walk around the floor on a fact-finding mission searching for what your competitors are doing right, and what they’re doing wrong.
Look at the type of giveaways that people remember, and take note of the type they forget. Pose as a customer and ask your competitors for price lists and information about their latest products. After a couple of hours on the sales floor, you’ll be able to piece together the sales strategies and marketing tactics of your competitors.
- See which booths are attracting the most attendees and learn from their tactics
- Keep notes of prices and special deals offered by your competitors to see how competitive your offers are
- Pose as a customer and see how other salespeople interact with you, and what their objectives are
Develop and strengthen your brand
Branding is a huge aspect of business success, especially in industries that depend on trust and reputation. Exhibiting at a trade show is a wonderful way to tell your industry that your company is serious, reliable, and large enough to afford its own presence at leading events and conferences.
By using your exhibit strategically, you can even position your company as being part of a niche within your market. Positioning your booth next to your industry’s ‘blue chip’ companies creates a powerful psychological image that can help your company move from ‘startup’ to ‘established brand’ in the eyes of your customers.
With the right strategy, even a small startup can strengthen its brand by exhibiting at a trade show. Display Wizard advises startups and small companies to choose a modular display system, as these are far easier to customise and adjust to suit any type of space than static display stands.
- Position your exhibit close to your industry’s blue chip’ companies to enhance your brand
- Use eye-catching, recognisable display banners to make your exhibit easy for customers and prospects to notice
- Include your social media information on your exhibit so event attendees can connect with you online
Close sales without causing resentment
Not all prospects respond well to telesales or direct mail. Some see direct marketing as an intrusion into their lives, while others are annoyed by sales calls, regardless of how much value they might offer.
Exhibiting at a trade show gives your company’s sales team an unprecedented level of access to important prospects, all without the resentment and apprehension that characterises traditional direct sales. Typical objections disappear as customers are in a buying (or research-focused) mood.
Capitalise on this opportunity. Prospects rarely give up their time; at a trade show, they do so enthusiastically. View every interaction with a prospect as a chance to close the deal and you’ll exit the trade show with a folder full of ready-to-buy sales leads.
- Whenever possible, try to close deals on the spot to capitalise on the buying mood of the event
- Take a direct approach to sales, as most attendees are already interested in your company’s products or services
- If you can’t close deals during the event, try to set up appointments with key prospects for the week after the trade show
Thinking of exhibiting? Make sure you choose the right show
The four benefits listed above are some of the most lucrative trade shows have to offer, but they’re certainly not the only ones. Trade shows can be used to generate buzz for a new product, for competitive research, and even for expanding your own professional network.
All of this depends on you choosing the right trade show for your company. Patrick Hull, an entrepreneur and trade show expert, recommends asking competitors and peers for their trade show recommendations. Attending the wrong trade show can cost your business far more than it produces in sales income.
Have you researched trade shows to find the best choice for your company? Do you have an experienced, capable sales team? If so, exhibiting at a trade show is a great way to transform your business from a small startup into a talked-about, profitable, and highly effective enterprise.
Peter Symonds is a trade show marketing expert from Display Wizard. He'll be posting more tips about how to make the most of your trade show experience over the coming months. Meanwhile, if you're considering marketing your business at a trade show, visit DisplayWizard.co.uk to browse the range of promotional material and contact the team for a quote.