Originally Published on 17 September, 2013 in Advice & Guides by Peter Symonds.
When you’re running a small business on a tight budget, the high costs of running a trade show stand can make it seem like an unwise investment compared to cheaper forms of marketing.
While advertising, direct sales, and online marketing certainly have their benefits – particularly when it comes to start-up costs – none compare to trade shows when it comes to pure return on investment, especially exponential return on investment.
From ROI to powerful branding, here are the five biggest benefits that your business could achieve from a successful trade show presence.
1. Establish your brand
While most people think of trade shows as platforms for direct marketing, they’re also a great opportunity to establish your brand. Exhibiting lets you show off your branding to thousands of attendees, giving you valuable name recognition.
In order to establish your brand at a trade show, you’ll need to make sure that your exhibit is perfectly configured for attracting attention. Use custom roll up banners, interactive displays, and other material to make your exhibit stand out.
2. Connect with prospects
Trade shows are a great opportunity to turn prospects into customers, and the high cost of exhibiting can often become incredibly low once it’s divided by the number of formerly cool leads you’re able to turn red hot.
Train your sales team before the event to make sure they have the skills and attitude to connect with could-be customers. If you’re reconnecting with leads that went cold in the past, it’s important that your team has something new and useful to offer.
3. Increase client/customer spending
It’s much easier to encourage an existing customer or client to spend more than it is to convert a new one. By using trade shows as an opportunity to connect with your existing customers, you can work out their problems and propose useful solutions.
Schedule meetings – preferably over drinks or dinner – with your current customers and clients, and use each meeting as an opportunity to learn about their needs and position your business as a potential solution.
4. Meet new vendors
Most businesses think of trade shows as an opportunity to expand their customer or client base. Others, however, think of trade shows as an opportunity to expand both their sales base and their supply chain.
If your sales team is taking care of prospects and existing customers, spend some of your time browsing the trade show floor looking for new vendors, service providers, and even lucrative recruiting sources.
5. Expand your industry knowledge
Trade shows that have live presentations and seminars are great places to expand your knowledge of your industry. Visit a seminar or two and expand your industry knowledge while your sales team takes care of customer acquisition.
From new marketing tactics to brand new technology, trade show presentations are often where big companies – typically the leaders in your industry – announce their latest technology, their smartest strategies, and their most lucrative promotions.