Tradeshows and how to leverage them

Trade shows have a scale and caliber that helps you meet key opinion leaders of your sector in a condensed amount of time. Studies suggest that it costs approximately 22% less to contact a potential buyer at a trade show than it does through traditional field sales calls.

However, the push to go virtual due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has impacted in-person trade shows. But as vaccines roll out in force and restrictions loosen, the prospect of in-person trade shows seems viable once again. 

And since trade shows are one of the most expensive marketing efforts your company can make, you need to bear in mind the following points. 

Crunching the wrong numbers

Your budget for setting up a booth might skyrocket if you do not plan well in advance and don’t consider the hidden costs that come with it. Besides the entrance fees, there are other additional costs you must consider. 

1.Booth space: One of the initial expenses is the cost of your exhibit space. An important thing to consider while exhibiting at US trade shows, is that you need to purchase insurance for the booth.  Also, If you violate a regulation (like having an improper booth height), you’ll be charged with fines.

Tip: Often, you’ll find “early-bird” discounts in your exhibitor service manual that will save you hundreds (sometimes thousands!) of dollars.

2.Accommodation and travel costs: According to Business Travel News’s 2021 Corporate Travel Index, travel costs (aka per-diem rates) – including accommodations, food, and car rental – are roughly $302 per person, per day. U.S. per-diem rates vary widely from city to city, with New York topping the list at $423.6/day, and Charleston bringing up the rear at $273.05/day. Over the course of a weekend, that bill may overshoot; even more so when you’re traveling with multiple people. Additional expenses, such as airline surcharges, room service and Wi-Fi access at your hotel, parking fees, and currency exchange rate fluctuations, if you’re exhibiting overseas, can cause a dent in your budget.

Tip: To find the best deals, start monitoring hotel and airfare rates 4-5 months before your event.

3.Booth furnishings: Although French trade shows provide all the equipment necessary for the booth, the same isn’t the case in the US. While exhibiting at American trade shows, everything from tables and chairs, flooring, and even wastebaskets needs to be purchased by you or rented out from a contractor. You also need to consider the expenses for lighting, a flat-screen TV, electricity, internet, and even the cost of hiring professionals to get handle the wear and tear of the booth equipment.

Tip: Review your invoices with a fine-tooth comb so that you can dispute any errors that crop up from overtime charges and “special handling” fees to rigging and booth cleaning costs.

Not having clear and measurable trade show objectives

Well, trade shows aren’t all awesome booths and stunning signages. often exhibitors set objectives that are too vague, and either non-measurable or unrealistic.  This can result in a trade show effort that’s largely disjointed, ineffective, and perhaps even confusing for your customers. 

If you aren’t sure what your trade show objectives should be, here’s a look at some of the most common exhibit goals that brands set for themselves:

  • To launch a product
  • To generate new leads
  • To raise brand awareness
  • To enter a new market
  • To meet partners in person
  • To retain current customers

Once you have chosen the objectives you can use marketing automation platforms to track the ROI of your events. 

Poor training of booth staff

Another common mistake is to assume everyone is a potential lead. People attend trade shows for a variety of reasons, and not all of them will be a good fit for your product or service. If you spend time trying to sell to people who aren’t quality leads, you’ll miss out on spending time with people who are. This is the main reason why you need to spend time training your staff at your booth. The product demos should not be robot-like, instead, train your staff to ask questions to your prospects and accordingly alter the demo to better suit their needs.

Here are some effective ways for you to put into action to get a better ROI from your next trade show

1.Reach out to attendees before the event

The best way to reach out to prospects and leads before the event is by using social media, email, or phone calls. You can also send out a press release to the relevant journalists informing them about your presence at the event. 

2.Incorporate marketing automation tools to collect data 

Instead of paper lead forms, create a dedicated landing page with a form to collect information from leads and import it directly into your CRM database. These landing pages can easily be used on laptops and tablets at your exhibitor’s booth. Also, if you want to save time on data entry and organization on the back end, you can pay for lead retrieval services upfront, making data collection easier.

3.Post social media updates during the event

In your social posts, make sure to include mentions of the trade show hashtag. You’ll become a part of larger threads and discussions, and it will also allow your organization to learn from other companies’ posts. 

4.Master the art of the post-show follow-up

Start with a helpful event recap, then a valuable related resource a few days later. Not only does this feel like a more natural relationship to prospects, but it frees up your sales team to focus on the hottest leads from the trade show as other leads are nurtured automatically.

If done right, the benefits of face-to-face interaction and relationship building that trade shows offer, can result in a shortened sales cycle and ultimately long-term repeat business. If you’d like to know more about how to make the most out of your next trade show contact us!

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