It’s 7am and you find yourself sipping a coffee while wandering the inside of an almost-empty convention center. You’re sizing up the booth branded with your company logo and information; comparing it to your competitor’s booth two rows over. You’re confident that the advancements to your product this year have put you a cut above the rest. Your team has worked tirelessly on presenting everything in a simple, informative, and eye-catching manner. You’re wondering if you’ll get more foot traffic than last year. You’ve got an hour before doors open to tweak the arrangement of your pamphlets, fret about a missing extension cord, and prepare for the whirlwind to come. Yes, it’s time for another trade show.
Every year, nearly 21 million people attend trade shows, conferences, and conventions. That is such enormous opportunity for new business! Looking at the figures, it just makes sense to participate. Events like this are a great way for companies to promote themselves while providing a face behind the name. Since travelling for business is such a vital part of generating new revenue (on average – $9.50 in return for every $1.00 invested), getting yourself and your team together for a presence at a trade show is just another one of those vital costs of doing business.
The keys to making these types of events profitable are managing your time, your expectations, and your costs. So let’s take a look at those in a bit more detail.
Manage your time by making every moment and interaction count. Nexonia is a firm believer that time is money, so that’s why this is first on the list. Working the floor of a trade show reminds many employees of when they first cut their teeth in sales – possibly walking retail floors in search of their next commission. When you consider that more than 80% of attendees for these events have some kind of buying power, it is incredibly vital to bring your ‘A’ game. Many people come to do business, and that’s why more than half of all qualified sales leads from events are closed without an additional in-person visit. Nearly everyone there is a potential new customer, so it is best to treat them as such. In short: hit the ground running hard and fast.
Manage your expectations by realizing that while you may deal with hundreds (or thousands) of new leads that day, you’re not going to win them all. Your competitors are out there doing the same thing, trying to prove they can out-do you. That’s the nature of the whole dance, isn’t it? And keep in mind that you’re also much more likely to interest a small-to-medium sized business owner, rather than the financial head of a massive corporation. Sure, swing for the fences with big contracts – but keep in mind that the small ones do add up. And what’s much more valuable than any revenue, is that every additional customer is new potential word-of-mouth. Always remember that you’re at these events to build relationships above everything else.
Manage your costs by spending smart and tracking your business expenses. You can always find ways to save with any sort of business travel, but trade shows can bring on a lot of atypical costs. With additional materials and installations required, as well as the simple price of securing one of those coveted vendor spots, these opportunities do not come cheap. That’s why it’s important to keep your budget in mind – so that the line between associated costs and profit is that much easier to cross.
The digital age has given rise to an incredible new number of ways to connect. A business isn’t really a business anymore without an online presence. Social media has become such an important marketing tool that positions now exist solely for people with the ability to stay on trend and keep their company’s Twitter feed and Facebook presence fresh. Virtual meetings are so commonplace that some even fear the art of the handshake may suffer with the next generation of business executives. But it’s still impossible to imagine a world operating without that human element to business.
Considering how 92% of event attendees are specifically coming to see new products, and that 99% say they find “unique value” from trade shows that they would not get from other mediums, it really is one of the best possible ways to get noticed in an overcrowded marketplace. You’re face-to-face, demonstrating your product or service and answering the questions that matter to this very real potential customer, directly and personally. There is absolutely no substitute for that kind of exposure, or that kind of start to a business relationship.
So while it may be a hectic few days of plane rides, hotels, sales pitches and smiles – in the end, you’ll be glad you put the time and effort into attending a trade show. Potential profits aside, you’ve helped reinforce your brand by putting the faces of your employees behind the name of your company. And that is priceless.