From visibility to credibility, exhibiting at a trade show can have hundreds of advantages and benefits for your business. Making the most of your space and establishing a presence gives you a powerful platform for meeting new customers and reaching out to existing clientele.
Understandably, a lot of businesses are put off exhibiting at a trade show because of the cost. It’s true, developing a great trade show stand, 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.
Trade shows and exhibitions are a great opportunity to learn what’s working and what isn’t for you and your business. You can do a lot of competitor research at events like these; for example, you can see which booths are attracting the most attendees and learn from their tactics. As the famous saying goes “keep your friends close but your enemies closer”.
You can also pose as a customer and see how other salespeople interact with you and what their objectives are. Finding out information about the needs and wants of your customers is very important when it comes to staying competitive in the market. The low response rate of email surveys means that they are only really beneficial to companies with large email lists to increase the rate of response, but exhibiting at a trade show is a great way to tell your industry that your company is serious, reliable and large enough to afford its own presence at leading events and conferences.
87% of marketers say face-to-face marketing is important, as 80% of trade show visitors are personally involved in buying the products or services on show.
A business exhibition helps you in four key areas of B2B marketing:
- It enables potential buyers to notice you, to discover you and then get to know you as a credible partner.
- Trade events account for 9% of marketing budgets, but return 23% of business.
- Satisfied trade show participants are also supporters of participating exhibitors and partners. Positive recall can more quickly lead to sales conversions.
- With proper research and planning, trade shows are one of the most cost-effective sources of leads and sales possible.
Don’t let visitors guess what your business is all about – tell them with your literature, using the power of the written word alongside print. Also, you probably have one business card that you hand to everyone with the basic need-to-know information: do not underestimate the power of a generic business card, as it allows for a plethora of possibilities; for example, why not have a QR code on one side that, once scanned, says “We met at X exhibition on X date and time”? This type of printed material could provide the vital information needed to encourage a profitable future connection/lead.
Exhibiting at trade shows means you can conduct a short survey on your exhibition stand to gather vital feedback. This can help you discover whether the needs and wants of your customers are the same, or if they have changed and if you need to adapt to meet these needs. Other ways to incentivise customers to participate in surveys is to offer a free gift or entry into a competition.
In order to create that great first impression, your exhibition stand should represent your brand identity in its entirety: from your logo, exhibition banners (including style and material type), to the employees manning the stand. It is essential that crew in particular are all in accordance with your brand’s personality and values – it may be a good idea, therefore, to brief them prior to the exhibition on your goals and objectives, if not already clear.
Exhibition banners have improved exponentially in recent years. They used to be very expensive, heavy and, quite frankly, a pain to assemble quickly. Nowadays, you can find lots of variations of banners which are cost-efficient, lightweight and portable, meaning you can – and should – consider bespoke banners for each event. Ideally, content for banners should include up-to-the-minute information, imagery that complements your current pitch, and maintain your established branding to allow your company to be instantly recognised.
Even if an exhibition-goer doesn’t talk to you, roller banners should provide them with the valuable information they need to get in contact with you later. Useful information such as contact numbers and postal addresses can be included on banners; however, social media links such as @ names, social media logos and your website remain the best way to address the modern customer.
If you have high-quality images that really exemplify your product, then roller banners are where to display them.
Alongside the roller or pop-up banners, sturdy PVC banners can be used for signposting and signage. These signs need to be kept clear and simple, and at most include your company name, website and logo. Don’t clutter what should be an easy to read sign.
Finally, think of your booth as a shop window: it should feel welcoming and draw people to come and take a peek ‘inside’.
What you need to make the most of your exhibition
If you have a brand identity to be proud of, you want to display it at its best in every instance. One of the largest formats it will be used in is at events and exhibitions, where passers-by will automatically form a perception of your company based on your visual identity. It may be the difference between whether they decide to stop and talk to you or not.
It is important to make sure that your stand sticks out, attendees stop and notice your brand and offer you an interaction which could be the chance you need to close a deal.
Why exhibit and attend trade shows?
Quite simply, if people don’t know who you are and what you can do, they’re never going to call you. Yes, you can advertise, but that doesn’t give you the chance to find out about your customers, build long-term relationships and have a good chat.
You can approach key people in the industry one on one that you may never be able to reach on the phone or even by email. You can connect with key customers and take the relationship to a deeper, more personal level. You can meet with key suppliers from your industry or other areas within that market.
Seize the opportunity to learn from your competition and network with professionals. Walk the floor to observe product displays, engagement tactics and sales pitches to take note of how you can improve at the next event. For example, if you observe that many companies are offering a new service, consider pitching the service during your next team meeting.
Five reasons to exhibit or attend trade shows
Initially, the whole point of attending exhibitions and trade shows is to create leads for future potential business. Luckily, they are quite a few, easy and cost-effective methods of capturing leads from exhibition events.
Firstly, just by having a paper form on your exhibition stand, you can ask visitors to leave their details in hope of making future connections after the event.
However, a business card draw at an event always goes down well with all guests, especially when there is a prize at stake to win because everybody loves a freebie! As a result of this competition, you can capture a vast amount of leads with the potential of contacting to offer your services to in the future.
But always remember to have a well-designed business card, which is tailored to that event to exchange every time a visitor takes part in your competition.
Top tip – Get a business card designed and personalised for this event, this will stand out from the crowd and remind other businesses of how you met.
However, do not be disheartened if a passer-by at the trade show doesn’t seem immediately drawn to your services or want to offer their business card. Handing them a freebie, something of value with your branding on may just be the reminder they need for a future conversation.
2. Check up on competitors
You may sell the same product but a trade show offers you an ideal opportunity to see not only who your competitors are, but also who they are they are targeting the most for your own research. This information gathered from the event can be used to help predict your competitor’s future plans. In terms of your own business, this may help you put forward a strategy to be one step ahead of your competitors.
Competitor research is a key part of any marketing plan however this can be sometimes hard to achieve. For example, competitors may hide their prices online or say `contact us for prices and more information`. Without having the time to pretend to be an interested customer, this information may be hard to attain. Therefore, being located in the same room as a number of your competitors may allow you to find out the fine details you need.
Sneaky, but trade shows have a lot of potential for the future of your business.
3. Engage with existing customers
A trade show is an ideal place for a quick touchpoint for a loyal customer and addressing their needs and thanking them for their business. It’s always good to see a familiar face or put a face to a name after recent communication via telephone or email.
Customers value you spending your time, recognising them and working towards a relationship with them. Therefore, a trade show can be the perfect place to engage with existing customers and give them promotional material to take away as a reminder of you and your business. These vital connections hopefully may lead to future recommendations and purchases.
4. Introduce your exisiting customers to other product lines
Customers, who love your brand and as a result are satisfied with the products they purchase, may be easily converted to buy other products you offer. A trade show is a great opportunity to showcase what else you do to your existing customers. These customers may just come to you because they want one service but when discovered you do more they may be enticed.
Top tip – Make sure your services are clear and communicated in an engaging way so it is easy to notice for passers-by. This can be done by using a roller banner, leaflets, and even an exhibition stand which is designed to communicate clearly everything you do.
5. Gather valuable research for the future
Why do your existing customers buy and what do they love most about your brand? You may already send out questionnaires via email asking for customer feedback; however these may get deleted or ignored. Therefore being at a trade show with the customer stood in front of you face to face could be the perfect chance to gain your market research.
For example, just asking simple questions like what do you like best about us as a company? What was the customer service like you received from us? This information can help for the future marketing and customer service element of your business.
Get in touch today and let’s get your business noticed!