Selling Your Boss On Trade Show Displays
It’s unfortunate but true: A lot of managers and bosses look at the idea of purchasing trade show booths and attending trade shows with a lot of skepticism. For one thing, a lot of employees do tend to abuse the privilege, and it’s easy to look at projected expenses, add in the travel expenses, and view trade shows as an excuse to run up bar tabs on the company charge card.
And it is a fact that setting up good trade show displays does require significant outlay – from transportation costs, space rental, drayage, shipping costs, not to mention purchasing the various banner stands and trade show displays you’ll need. A lot of bosses have heard many stories about exorbitant bar tabs and expensive dinners and are hesitant to approve all these costs without some really convincing arguments.
Perhaps worst of all, from the standpoint of talking to someone who only cares about the bottom line, is that trade shows can be incredibly effective, but they generally bring delayed results. You’re not likely to make too many direct sales in your trade show booth, but you will be laying the groundwork for many new sales over the course of the next 6-12 months.
In today’s business market, which is obsessed with quarterly results, that delay can be a tough sell in a number of ways. So, here are a few tips and ideas to bring up when you’re presenting your boss with plans for trade show displays!
Convincing Your Boss You Need Trade Show Displays
- Pitch it as a marketing investment. Let’s be honest: half of budgeting is deciding what column to put investments under. Don’t pitch trade show displays as a sales tool, because then you’ll be expected to deliver sales. Pitch them as a marketing effort. After all, your firm can’t get hard numbers on sales based on magazine ads, radio spots, or billboards, but you probably engage in those activities too.
- Emphasize the power of face-to-face meetings. If your boss has attended many managerial classes or weekend retreats, they’ve heard all about the effectiveness of meeting people in person. There’s simply no more powerful way to make a connection and establish yourself in a person’s mind than through direct interaction. They aren’t simply reading about your company or playing with your demos at your trade show booth – they’re meeting YOU, and your staff. That personal connection is easy to leverage for later sales, if it’s established properly.
- Free publicity. Here’s a great one for getting your CFO drooling: talk about how easy it is to get free media access at your exposition display. Local media always covers trade shows in their area, making it easy to get clips to put into marketing videos or onto YouTube. Larger shows, like CES, get national attention for firms involved. You literally cannot buy that kind of coverage, but with a good trade show display, it’s a freebie that’s included in the package.
- Social media numbers. It can be hard finding hard data for convincing a skeptical boss, but your social media activity is a good one to point at. Social media can be used before the show, to build interest. You can use it during the show, to inspire more visitors, as well as encouraging others to Follow you socially. You can even use it afterwards for lead followups. And every step of the way, you’ll have clear numbers to point at showing increased Facebook “likes,” Twitter followers, and more.
There are numerous benefits to hosting trade show displays, from the increased visibility to the potential for headhunting new employees. When selling your boss on the idea, focus on the trade show ROI and on the long-term importance of trade show displays and booths. There’s far more to attending a trade show than hitting the local bars, so make sure your boss knows it!