If you run a business that has plenty of clients, a solid industry reputation and you feel you have enough new customers coming through the door, it can all too tempting to think you don’t need to continually invest in your marketing channels to continue the success and growth of your company.
Wrong. As recent world events have shown there are a number of global factors that can wreak havoc with a successful business, and that’s what a solid marketing plan to underpin growth and the attraction of new clients is key.
One of the primary ways to attract new business is to put yourself in front of the decision-makers form your target clients, both as a business and an individual. Exhibiting at a trade show is one of the most effective ways to do this, and with the correct approach can be extremely successful in building new leads and relationships. Improving and re-energising existing ones, and hopefully, will allow you to close a few deals along the way.
So, want to know more? Read on to discover 15 great reasons why B2B and B2C trade shows are your next step to business success!
1. Introduce yourself to new customers
We all know that feeling, you’re trying to tie down a potential client to make a decision, to review your proposal, to get back to you.
Emails are ignored, messages aren’t returned, and in the days of home working – the office isn’t always even open!
One of the biggest challenges is separating yourself form the competition to ensure you are both seen and heard and that is exactly where the advantages of exhibiting at an industry trade show come into play.
Not only do you meet and engage with prospective new customers, you get to do so in a face to face environment, building relationships and discussing collaborative projects, and becoming a person they know and can connect with, much better than just being a name on an email, or a voice on the phone!
This allows you to have a much more organic conversation in a focussed and targeted environment, allowing your connections to understand you and your offering.
2. Work on projects with existing clients
In much the same way attending industry events allow you to build on existing relationships, exhibiting at a show can be the prime opportunity to continually invest in the relationships that have already been successfully forged.
Whilst every business thrives when new customers come through the door, those already on the books cannot be ignored either and will expect to receive the same level of attention and service that convinced them to work with you in the first place.
The face to face environment of a trade show means you can out that all important time into continuing to understand your current clients needs, requirements, and discuss existing or upcoming projects that could be very much worthwhile and enhance your own brand and scope of work as a result.
Whilst the majority of clients will not double their order book with you via email or phone communication, meeting on the exhibition floor continues to be an effective way to win new business form existing clients
3. Learn about new trends in your space
By attending any industry event, you not only have the opportunity to talk about yourself to a captive audience, a by product of your attendance is the ability to keep a keen eye on what else is going on, Who else is in attendance? What are they promoting? Who are they taking to?
Industry exhibitions and event are often loaded with companies launching innovative new products and services – some of which may be direct competitors to your own. To put a spin on a popular saying
“…keep your clients close and your competitors closer…”
In any competitive environment, would you rather have sight and knowledge of how your competitors are operating, or be completely detached? Aside from promoting your own value at a trade show, it also allows time to look around for innovations and trends that could have a direct impact not only on who you do business with, but how you do that business
Whilst you may want to fill your exhibition stand with sales staff to create and follow-up on new leds, it’s also worth thinking about sending technical and account handling teams to events to keep up to date with key trends, new topics and engaging solutions
4. Meet other companies that could help your business grow
Attending a trade show doesn’t necessarily mean just thinking about the sales leads you want to get out of it, it could be a key chance to meet new vendors or supply teams that could change the ay you operate, streamline existing process or help you increase your presence in the market to achieve long term profitability.
As much as attending an exhibition is about onboarding new clients, remember you could also become a key client to another exhibitor in your field and develop new opportunities to help your business grow and improve in other areas and processes
5. Engage with new customers during the show
Cold calling. Urgh. Whilst it may still have a place, trying to get those initial introductions made over the phone can be time consuming, emotionally draining and pressurised. Is there anything more dejecting in the world of sales than the rounds of changes, negotiations and stress of potentially not winning that business?
Meeting people in a trade show environment is an altogether different proposition though, you are there to offer a product or service that could in some way enhance or benefit the business or day to day operations of those in attendance. They are there because trade shows are an important way for them to improve their outsourced solutions.
Instant relationship builder.
Speaking over the phone to the decision maker, you’re usually dealing with someone that’s already managing their day to day workload, as well as ancillary projects or business requirements such as this, and so you may well get the vibe their disinterested in you, your time, or what you’ve got to say.
By stark contrast to more traditional outbound sales methods, in which rejection is much more prominent, trade shows are one of the few environments in which your sales team benefits from organic exposure to an audience of key decision makers that are there to look at products or services to improve their business……which is where you come in……
6. Re-inforce the messaging and personality of your brand
One of the great levellers about exhibiting at a trade show is that it gives you equal access to the key decision makes, by comparison to the access that may be enjoyed by larger rival brands or companies.
From thinking about where you want to position exhibition in the hall, attracting passing attendees on the show floor, and how to keep your product or service at the forefront of your consumers thoughts after the show – exhibiting can help re-inforce an already strong brand in the market place to a keen and appropriate audience that will likely be on the lookout for someone just like you!
7. Learn what your competitors are doing right…..or wrong
An often overlooked benefit of exhibiting is that it gives you sight of what your competitors are doing correctly, and gives you opportunity to think how this can be applied to your business.
Is your market dominated by a large congolomerate? Are there new rivals making a big splash?
Being in a position to assess the marketing strategy of your rivals and how they connect with their audience means you can look at both sides and how that can be applied or improved for your own purposes. One of the best things to do at a trade event is to take the time to have a look at what others do, connect and discuss with direct and indirect competitors to think about elements from supply chain, technical and production, client retention strategies to name but a few
8. Increase sales leads and after show care
Back in the day it was all about the Yellow Pages right? Sifting through hundreds of pages of potential, but unqualified leads who didn’t know anything about yourself or your business?
That’s all well and good – but nothing will give you qualified leads and genuine connections quite like an exhibition stand at a trade show. Aside from the fact that the attendees are likely to be involved in your area of business in some capacity, meeting in a face to face environment builds genuine and long lasting connections, from businesses who may be after your product or service before you even know about it!
With trade show attendances on the rise again post Covid – exhibiting over a two or three day show gives you the chance to make hundreds of new and relevant connections, and it’s those post show follow-ups, building on introductions made that can really help you prosper and start to make successful longer terms relationships to help grow your business, whilst also showing your prospective new customers how important they are to you
9. Speak directly to your target market
Whilst online marketing can be invaluable for ascertaining large amounts of data from a broad audience base that can help inform the decisions you make moving forward.
But will anything ever beat hearing it direct from your audience, both clients and suppliers to help your team think about how the business offering can be improved, or more targeted. Trade shows offer a crucial opportunity to hear direct, honest feedback from your client base – and remember, if this feedback isn’t coming to you – it’s going to someone else!
10. Improve your sales and lead gen approach in a live capacity
If you want your sales team to be exposed to new products, strategies and services then why not put them on a trade show stand? Exhibiting offers a great way to test the water on new products or services, gauge reactions to any new promotional campaigns in a live setting with instantaneous and genuine feedback. Think BETA tests but on an extreme scale with hundreds of responses in a short time period, or turbo charged sales training.
Direct feedback also offers data capture possibilities to work with in the future as the leads will already be exposed to your offering and will have the opportunity to further engage once you have been able to qualify who is more suited to hearing further details, which hopefully, will lead to converted sales and long term growth and consumer loyalty.
11. Deliver a new brand or product launch
If you’re looking to make a lot of noise and rum up interest in a new or revamped product, one of, if not the best way to do this, is to do so in a live setting with an engaged and captive audience. SO where would you find one of those – at a trade show of course!
One of the keys to this is your pre-show marketing, making sure you’re making people aware of the exciting announcements to come and working on that pre-show engagement to drive traffic and conversation to your exhibition stand.
Exhibiting and showcasing new innovations not only acts as a great way to draw attendees over to your stand, it also allows sales and technical teams the opportunity wax lyrical about the benefits and enhancements whilst also having a wider conversation about how other products or services in your range can improve your clients business operations.
12. Highlight your attendance via your socials
In the modern age of online marketing within digital and social media channels and the role this plays in increasing the presence and profile of a brand, making sure you have the correct messaging around your attendance at a show can really help drive then number of visitors you get.
Releasing a new product or service? Announcing a partnership? Delivering key business results? Putting in a place consistent and coherent messaging per show within a deliberate timeframe helps keep your audience engaged with your rationale for exhibiting and what you’ll be talking about at the show, but be careful, you want to keep your audience engaged so don’t release that big news too early, keep them on their toes to ensure that online traffic works for you towards achieving your goals and ambitions for the show.
13. Reconnect with a purpose
Whilst most areas of society have largely re-opened again following the pandemic, some sectors have shows that only take place bi-annually, or move around from city to city, country to country.
If that’s you, trade shows can be a perfect environment in which to fire up those conversations with long lost connections and re-affirm those relationships in an informal and relaxed setting, discussing key industry and business updates as well s new trends and solutions, and so much more!
As the old saying goes ‘people buy from people’ so what better way to reconnect in a mutually beneficial environment and re-establish your friendships and professional connections, than at one of your key industry events and all the social opportunities these offer?
14. Think about the impact of not exhibiting
This is a crucial one, whilst you may look at the cost for buying an exhibition stand space at a show and the cost of fabricating elements to go into that space, and the cost the time and resource involved in managing a booth during the show as avoidable expenses in the short term, it is also important to consider, what are the impacts of not exhibiting?
According to the Center for Exhibition industry Research (CEIR), warm leads generated at live events are up to 2.7 times more likely to result in a post show sale than recommendations or referrals from existing customers whilst 64% of trade show attendees state they are not customers of exhibitors at the show – think about all those new leads you are loosing to your competitors by not being there in the first place.
Further CIER research shows online brand engagement and web traffic can fall by up to 5% immediately after key industry events as attendees and exhibitors mutually look to follow-up on those conversations….not attending your exhibitions can be more costly in the long run!
15.. Have fun!
Trade shows are hard work – involving a long build up time, lots of planning and several days on your feet – and then they’re done in a flash! So make sure you enjoy them, embrace the experience and the change of routine, speak to stakeholders, visit other booths, listen to the plenary sessions, go out and explore the host city.
Almost all successful business start with a story, a personal journey that allows your connections to feel part of your story, part of that journey.
Trade shows require a lot of time with a team both in planning and execution, that will inevitably create bonds, connections and shared experiences in a manner that can rarely be replicated or achieved in another form – and that often translates in the passion and knowledge teams have of their business, radiating through to your audience, and fingers crossed – resulting in getting some big deals signed!!