Are Trade-Shows and Industry Conferences Worth Attending and Exhibiting At?
If you’re selling to industry, (Business-to-business marketing) you may have wondered if trade shows are worth doing. Yes, no? Maybe? My conclusion is, yes, they are, if you carefully pick the right ones and follow the four methods outlined in this blog.
There’s a trade show, and industry association with conferences, for just about anything. They key is to find the right ones to participate in. So do your research. Here is a directory of all 8,000 U.S. trade associations that you can buy, subscribe to, or (cheaper) refer to at a reference library. Like the New York Public Library, Science, Business and Industry Library.
Can you get a return on your investment? Nielsen, the #1 Market Research company in the world, studied 40,000 marketing activities (digital, TV, print, outdoor, etc.) and found that the average ROI was $.70 on every $1 spent. In other words, a negative ROI on average. Ouch!
So, will you be able to make a positive return on trade-shows? In my modest, yet informed, opinion, yes, but only if you can do at least these four things well, which require money, time and expertise (ahem… we can help with all 4).
The 4 Ways:
1. Create an Attractive Booth Design
This one is fairly obvious. But I’ve seen some horrendous booths, so it’s apparently not obvious to everyone. Design your booth consistent with your brand. But it’s not necessary to go overboard. Back drop, tables and chairs. Video is good, even just on an iPad or small screen.
2. Communicate with Attendees, Before, During and After the Event
Do pre, during and after marketing. Find ways to reach out to the tradeshow attendee list in advance… The trade show organizers will often provide you with a list of attendees. Get people to come to your booth, don’t just rely on chance or a great booth design. Connect with them on twitter. Then email and tweet during the event, inviting them to stop by your booth. And, of course, do follow up; both to the people that have visited your booth, and again to the overall conference list.
3. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone – Talk to Folks!
Most of the industry conferences and trade shows have educational sessions and networking events like receptions and dinners. Go to as many of them as you can stand to. Get out of your comfort zone and talk to anyone. Finding and connecting with the right people in the industry, both your peers and potential prospects is the best way of learning about the industry.
4. Do Them at least 3 Times
Do them at least 3 years in a row. Trade-shows are not an opportunistic play. Really, what is, in marketing? Industry prospects need to see you year over year. They want to see that you’re committed to their industry and have staying power. It’s the only way to make an impression – do the right shows, at least 3 years, before deciding whether to continue or pivot to other shows.
There you go, the 4 minimum things to do, for an effective trade-show and conference strategy. In the business-to-business world, industry conferences are some of the best opportunities for you to network, educate yourself and market and sell to your prospects. Obviously, the key is to pick the right ones, so do your research carefully (we’d love to help!) Again, this full list, is awesome. See you out there!