Exploding Three Common Myths About Trade Show Success
Some people in the exhibiting industry measure trade show success by focusing on factors that aren’t that important to have a successful show.
I’ll give you three examples of what I believe are myths.
And I’ll share my thoughts on why I don’t think you should waste much time trying to change, argue about, or analyze them.
They are what they are, and they don’t necessarily have a lot to do with whether your trade show exhibit will be successful.
Myth #1: Overall Show Attendance
This figure changes from one industry to the next, and it fluctuates each year. Sometimes it’s up. Sometimes it’s down. But does it really matter? To my way of thinking, its importance is a myth. Why?
Particularly in the B2B world, declines in the attendance numbers aren’t actually a reflection of fewer buyers attending the show. It’s more likely that each of those companies is simply sending fewer people in their entourages. But the buyers are still there. So trade show success doesn’t depend on show attendance figures.
It’s just that when times are good, companies send larger groups of people to shows. When times are bad, they send fewer. Those smaller entourages still have to find solutions for their companies. They’re at the show. They’re in a buying state of mind. And they’re looking for a product or service that will help them. You just need to find them (but more about that later).
So don’t worry about the overall numbers. Keep your focus on marketing effectively to those buyers who are a perfect fit for what you’re there to sell.
Myth #2: Prominent Booth Location
Needing to be in a prime location is another of those myths that just won’t go away. This has more to do with pleasing your executives than it does with trade show success. It’s great to have a prominent spot in the exhibit hall. But don’t sweat it if you don’t.
Attendees are more organized these days when they go to shows. They don’t wander aimlessly through the aisles. As many as 76% of attendees already know which exhibits they want to visit before they arrive.
So if you’re on their list, they’ll find you. The important thing is to get on that list!
That has much more to do with pre-show marketing than it does with where you happen to be on the show floor. A strategic marketing plan has to include efforts to lure those key buyers to your trade show booth with:
- a series of targeted emails,
- a direct mail appeal or invitation (a postcard, letter, or even a uniquely shaped printed piece),
- phone calls from sales staffers to your top prospects and current clients
- and even news about contests or games to be held in your trade show booth
Pre-show marketing is critically important. The majority of companies, however, don’t invest enough effort in this arena. As a result, opportunities are lost at every show. But you don’t have to be one of those in the majority.
Myth #3: Busy = Successful
This could only be true if you market to everyone at the show. Do you? Probably not.
Your market is more likely a tiny sliver of the overall attendance at a show. If your trade show exhibit is busy, you do succeed in tiring out your booth staffers. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve achieved trade show success or done more business.
I’ve seen trade show booths filled with people waiting for an autograph or the opportunity to take a picture with a celebrity. The problem? 95% of them weren’t prospects. The trade show exhibit was so overloaded that staffers couldn’t do business with real buyers to save their lives!
What’s far more important than having a trade show booth filled with people all the time? Being sure you’ve reached your key buyers and hottest prospects. If you’ve invited them and they’ve shown up, it doesn’t really matter how many more people walk through your display.
However, you need to be sure you’ve reached those VIPs and thoroughly conveyed your brand message. If they’ve heard your marketing message, you’ve done most of the work required. The puzzle’s final piece is having action steps in place for each of those buyers and prospects.
The rest is just follow-up, which I’ve written about at length elsewhere. Suffice it to say that follow-up is the most important – and sometimes least accomplished – an element of trade show success.
If you’ve done all the work to attract potential business, follow through effectively and work your leads.
Myth #4: Trade Show Marketing IS Marketing
This can get a little confusing. If you understand the inner workings of marketing, then trade show marketing may come naturally to you. However, many marketers tend to gravitate toward what they consider their strengths.
When it comes to trade shows, you should have a clear understanding of the structure, the graphics you are using, and the planning and promotion of each of your trade shows.
When it comes to trade show marketing, it is different from traditional marketing because there will be much more trial and error in the process. Working with professionals is one way to help solve problems you may be experiencing.
Myth #5: Trade Shows Are Just One Big Party
Some of the more relaxed and laid back companies may view trade shows as one big party; however, more sophisticated companies may have a different view. Trade shows are great for generating leads and discussing products with potential clients.
It isn’t all about wining and dining each client. It is more about event strategy and spending the money in your budget for measurable sales after the show.
Take the time to review your pre-show promotions, lead qualification, and promotional materials so you can invest your time in something more worthwhile for the company.
Myth #6: Trade Show Displays Are Expensive
You have to look at your trade show display as an investment in the company. If you take trade shows and event marketing seriously, you want to have a high-quality display that reflects that commitment.
You also probably follow through with pre show promotions and reaching out to your target audience through social media ahead of the trade show to maximize attendance and increase brand awareness.
If you frequent trade shows, then it is a no-brainer to invest in a good display that will last. Consider the needs of your company, what you want to present, and how you want to set up and choose a display that fits your needs and budget.
Trade Show Success Strategies Summarized
Learning the best trade show success strategies can prove to be beneficial when it comes to meeting your goals and objectives. The right strategies allow you to measure the overall success of trade show attendance and provide you with a clear picture of what you are trying to achieve.
For trade show success, you want to do the following:
- Engage with your target audience before the show. If so, you can potentially see a 50 percent increase in the conversion of booth visitors to qualified leads.
- Engage after the show. You need to have actionable data in the form of qualified opportunities for your sales funnel, connections for future campaigns, and surveys to help develop your team and other strategies and event marketing.
For more, learn how to stand out from the crowd and how to understand when a trade show isn’t rewarding.
It’s no myth that a well-designed trade show exhibit can help you attract buyers and prospects while effectively telling your story. Whether you’re looking for a portable display, a modular exhibit, or anything else having to do with exhibiting, we can help.
We also offer a broad range of accessories that can shine a light on your product, display your literature, or provide a counter where your staffers can do business. To learn more, call at (800) 676-EXPO or email [email protected]