In the Digital Era, Don’t Overlook Role of Tradeshows

Old-fashioned? Only in the sense that meeting new prospects and increasing your sales are old-fashioned concepts.

By Scott Hanna

Old-fashioned? Only in the sense that meeting new prospects and increasing your sales are old-fashioned concepts. 

In today’s B2B marketing climate, there are dozens of methods to reach clients, and hundreds of channels. Almost no other medium, however, can compare with face-to-face marketing. And at the top of that list, you’ll find tradeshows. Why is that the case? Why do they matter so much? With so many marketing options these days, tradeshows allow you to do some things that no other channels can:

  • You can see multiple clients all in one place.
  • You can show services and products in person to get im-mediate feedback
  • You have immediate two-way commun-ication.
  •  You can check out your competition in person.
  • You can meet with multiple potential vendors and partners all in one place. 
  • And don’t underestimate the power of this one: You can shake your client’s hand.

These are just a few of the benefits of tradeshows. 

One of the biggest benefits, though, is selling, and speeding up the sales cycle. While we have gained a lot of speed with our
technology today, and instant communi-cation is expected, it also results in a loss of personal connection. Interestingly, most people still want to buy from people they like and trust. Knowing if you like someone, and building trust, comes from being face-to-face to build that relationship. There is no more cost-effective way to do that than a tradeshow, where you have access to so many clients and prospects all at the same time.

But will this hold true in the future? There are a few things that tell us it will.

One is human nature. Most people want and need inter-personal relationships, and in the B2B world, nothing provides a better opportunity for those than tradeshows.

Another is that seeing is believing. Seeing a product in per-son. Seeing a client’s facial expressions. Seeing body language. Yes, you can look at pictures of product. Yes, you can video conference. But those things don’t compare to seeing them in person.

Tradeshows also provide an opportunity to tell your story to an audience that wants to be there. Companies pay to go to tradeshows. They spend money on travel and tickets to the show, all so that they can meet with you and see what you’re all about.

For the foreseeable future, there is no replacement for these things, so tradeshows will endure. But if you still want more evidence, let’s take a look at some very powerful statistics from the industry.

  • 81 percent of tradeshow attendees have buying authority, which means more than 4 out of 5 people walking the aisles are potential customers for exhibitors. Source: CEIR: The Spend Decision: Analyzing How Exhibits Fit Into The Overall Marketing Budget.
  • 67 percent of all attendees rep-resent a new prospect and potential customer for exhibit companies. This means tradeshows are always rich in new business targets for you. Source: Exhibit Surveys, Inc.
  • 46 percent of tradeshow attendees are in executive or upper management. That’s a lot of valuable attendees with top titles walking tradeshows. They certainly have authority to make buying decisions. Source: CEIR: The Role and Value of Face to Face.
  • The No. 1 reason for attending (not exhibiting) tradeshows is to see new products. 92 percent of tradeshow attendees say they are looking for new products. It has been the No. 1  reason to attend for 25 years. So tradeshows are a great place to introduce or feature your newest products. Source: CEIR: The Role and Value of Face to Face.

So you have some of the benefits, and some pretty telling statistics. If you’re ready to get started, what comes next? 

Well if you’re new to exhibiting, there are a few things to consider. The best way to start is to create a plan, and successful planning starts with objectives. Determine why you want to exhibit, who your target audience is, what you want to communicate and what your measure of success will be. If you answer those four questions, you will have your primary objectives. 

The next step is finding a good partner, an exhibit company that will take the time to understand your needs and objectives. You’ll want to consider their experience, how they operate, services they offer and examples of their work. You might also want to get a list of testimonials and references.

If you combine solid objectives with the right partner, you’ll be well on your way to a successful exhibiting program. 

About the author

Scott Hanna is vice president of sales and marketing for Skyline3 in Lenexa, Kan.

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