Posted by IndustryArchive Admin on 03/25/2017 Trade Show Marketing

5 Tips for Successful Trade Show Marketing

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5 Tips for Successful Trade Show Marketing

Have you ever thought why trade show marketing is a preferred method of B2B marketing for such a long time? Its longevity is likely due because trade shows project brand identity and facilitate customer contact in a captive environment. After all, almost everyone that attends at a trade show is a potential customer.

So how can you make the most effective and efficient use of your trade show marketing investment? We will answer this question as you read on.

Trade Show Marketing Goal Setting

Before deciding to become an exhibitor, it is important to establish your business goals for participation. Typical goals that businesses have for trade show participation are one or all of the following:

  • Present your company brand to the marketplace 
  • Acquire sales contacts to follow-up with customer appointments 
  • Launch a new product or service 
  • Build your industry network 
  • Sell a specific amount of products or services

Traditional Trade Show Approach

Trade shows are usually a significant expense especially if you use a traditional approach to exhibiting at a trade show. The traditional approach involves:

  • staffing travel & expenses 
  • booth rental space 
  • building or buying an exhibit 
  • labor for booth set up and take down 
  • signage 
  • promotional campaign 
  • possibly in-booth entertainment 
  • visitor giveaways

Even the most modest budget for a small business can run at least $2,000 to $5,000 in direct trade show expenses. Big businesses half a million to a million dollars is typical. A trade show is a costly marketing expense if you fail on identifying and executing the best methods to achieve your goals.

A Trade Show True Story

The best method to employ in executing a trade show marketing strategy that will enable you to meet your goals begins with knowing your customer. This real-world experience demonstrates this assertion.

One of my clients asked if I would evaluate their approach to working a trade show to observe and to make future recommendations. I had not been involved from the beginning in preparing for this show; however, I did counsel them to focus on one key aspect of their show preparation. I asked the client to tell me the biggest problem they help their customer solve. I suggested that they make this the focal point of their trade show efforts.

My client sells a custom software application that helps auto dealerships in their reporting requirements to state government. Their software is a solution that eliminates the manual and tedious job of recording and reporting information on accounting pads to the state.

Like most business people, the company principals thought that the best way to sell their product was to demonstrate it live during the show. They believed that a hands-on demonstration of their software would convince their potential customers to buy their software. Therefore, the focal point of their preparation was setting up computers and determining the best location in their booth to conduct their demonstrations.

When I arrived at their booth, the client was busy setting up their computers just finishing hanging a new sign and placing brochures around the booth.

Important Trade Show Fact

The most critical aspect of a trade show is to realize that is akin to a carnival. The sights, sounds and smells around your booth are impossible to control. In fact, you have no control. This fact became evident to my clients as the show progressed.

Across from our booth was a tricked out stock car that my client thought would help attract a large crowd right across from their booth. Then 5 minutes before the doors open a well-endowed young woman appeared in a yellow bikini and positioned herself on the hood of the car. What my client thought would be helpful to drawing a crowd had become, “who is going to pay attention to us with that across the aisle.”

Then to add insult to injury right around the corner from our booth began a very loud banging sound that repeated every 20-30 seconds like a pounding headache. The crowd was coming in, and the noise level in the hall rose to a constant din. Then it dawned on my client how difficult it would be and challenging to hold computer demos of their software with all the noise and distractions going on around them.

Putting Your Customer First

As a result, I turned to the owner who was now demoralized over all the work they had done, and I said did you bring the accounting pad that your customers use to report their transactions to the state? He said yes. He gave it to me, and I started walking down the aisle from the main approach to the booth.

I spotted a man and woman who appeared to resemble our target audience of independent auto dealers. I approached the woman and said, “Have you ever seen one of these pads?” She said, oh yes! So I said to her, “how would you like to throw these pads in the garbage?” “She responded, “if you can help me do that I am all ears!”

She then grabbed her husband’s arm, and I escorted them to our booth. I introduced them to my client’s co-owner who was the sales manager, and he began to talk with the couple. The other co-owner who was a key person for the software code began demonstrating the software. Within minutes unprompted to buy, the client’s husband said we had seen enough, and he took out his credit card. The co-owner responsible for the computer code and demonstrations wanted to continue with the demo. I was able to pull him aside and told him they just took their credit card out we do not need to continue with the demo.

5 Key Takeaways

So here are some noteworthy tips we recommend to business professionals regarding trade show marketing and selling at trade shows.

  1. Set your goal(s) for your trade show 
  2. Identify your customer’s biggest problem & demonstrate their problem to them 
  3. Remember a trade show environment is a carnival & prepare accordingly and understand what you can and cannot accomplish 
  4. Spend just the right amount of time to accomplish your goal or goals;
  • obtain contact information for a follow-up sales call after the show
  • establish your brand identity
  • if possible sell quickly

5. do not spend more than 5 to 10 minutes per sales prospect   

We can help you maximize your trade show marketing return-on-investment and help you reach potential buyers even before the show so that sales prospects seek you out at your show. To get more information contact us.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2014 by its author at MyMarketingDept Blog and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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