Why Trade Shows Are Still Important
If someone tells you trade shows are yesterday’s news, they are making a gross miscalculation.
There are no bad marketing strategies. Everyone is unique, and everyone needs a mix that works for them. “All you need is online marketing” is one of the world’s three great lies (the other two are “This won’t hurt as much as you think” and “I’m from the government and I am here to help.”)
In marketing, the magic is in the mix. When I ranked marketing tactics during a ten-year lead generation study I conducted, networking at trade shows finished in the top five. The best marketing tactics are educational in nature, and a trade show let’s you educate prospects face to face (or “belly to belly,” as one of my mentors used to say).
According to statistics compiled by the website spingo.com, “The cost of a face-to-face meeting with a prospect at a trade show is $142. The cost of a face-to-face meeting at a prospect’s office is $259. By displaying at an expo, you find a much more cost-effective way to have face-to-face conversations with potential prospects.”
I had a phone chat with trade show expert Alice Heiman, co-founder of TradeShow Makeover, and asked her for the key to trade show success. She said one word, “Preparation.” Then she added some other great words.
“The key to success with any event is preparation and yet, it’s where people spend the least time and effort,” said Heiman. She explained that everyone prepares. “They think they have done all the prep needed but truly most of them have left out several important pieces.”
Here are six ways Heiman says that will lead to trade show success.
- “Start planning early. Once the exhibit space has been purchased determine who will be the lead for the show and make a timeline that counts down what has to be done each week until the show.”
- “Research. Learn everything about the show, the speakers, exhibitors, attendees, topics, trends and anything to help you plan your messaging for email and conversations. Choose a thread you can use before, during and after the show that will be memorable. Best if you can show impact by tying what you do to an industry trend.”
- “Prepare all of the messaging. The messaging is based on the information found when you researched. The pre-show message, should flow into the show message which should flow into the post show message. Same with the images to go with your message. They should be memorable and match your online presence. The art on your emails and booth should match the art on your website so that people are not confused.”
- “Schedule appointments. Your team should contact customers and prospects and schedule appointments to meet during the show.”
- “Plan every detail of what your booth staff will do at the show. What will they wear, what is the schedule, what they should do when they are not in the booth? What questions will they ask?”
- “Plan your follow up. Put time on your calendars to do the follow up and plan all of it in advance. After the show, sort the leads and give them out. Each team will have their follow up ready to go.”
As obvious as these seem, Heiman says that most companies don’t do these basic things or “they don’t do them consistently and with rigor.”