I was having a long dialogue with several clients during the past two weeks and the subject of Trade Shows came up. Seems there is concern over the return on investment with participating in trade shows.
So I did a little research to check out what the experts were saying about Trade Shows and got some interesting information.
So, first, trade shows are still considered a valuable investment due to three factors…
- The ability to meet customers face to face and build stronger relationships – primarily from having dialogues about the use of products or services and how to apply these solutions – proof and testimonials (from other people at the show discussing your solution’s performance.)
- The opportunity to get hands-on experience with a product or service. The ability to visually see or review products is very important to high percentage of participants. So here is the old “Show and Tell” technique at its best.
- Finally, the chance to find options, new technologies, new applications and interact with experts about issues or problems is a big draw for trade shows.
Now, these three factors work for both attending and promoting at a Trade Show. Realize there are additional factors to consider if you placing a booth or exhibit at a Trade Show.
The Experts who survey and document what attendees are looking for when attending a Trade Show. And, in addition to the three factors shown above – there is one very important reason people attend Trade Shows.
The overall driver or motivation to attend a Trade Show is to Learn. That’s right, they are coming to Trade Shows to get educated on real world issues.
Here are the Top Five Areas of Needs as expressed by the attendees of Trade Shows.
The Top Five Areas of Needs or Opportunity for Trade Shows
- Industry Trend Insights
This one is critical for attendees and especially Decision Makers who are looking for trends or directions regarding their industry or customer markets. Better decisions are made with better Intel.
- Networking with Experts & Professionals
Getting experts together in one place is great for networking and learning about things that matter to the attendee. It also opens doors for better relationships with the organizations displaying their products or services at the Trade Show. It is a good idea to sponsor these opportunities.
- To Improve Job or Work Performance
The old saying…“Sometimes You Don’t Know, What You Don’t Know.” Trade shows offer the opportunity to get educated on new ways of doing things or new processes, equipment, systems or concepts to improve or fix issues restricting an attendee’s job or work performance.
- Personal Development
We are finding more people using Trade Shows to get educated on things impacting their personal development and progress. Again, the more a person can learn – the more valuable they become to both themselves and their company. Combo sessions – showing your solutions plus providing personal wins for the attendee are highly valued.
- Seminars / Speakers
Here is a great opportunity to improve your credibility as an expert or adviser regarding your industry, markets, products, processes or systems – by holding a seminar on an important issue or topic (it has to be of interest to the attendee/customer/prospect to be valuable). Also, if you as a sales person can be the speaker on a topic, problem solving case study or new processes available for an industry – you position yourself as the expert and will get more respect with your prospects and customer attendees.
Okay, if you have already gone to or participated in your favorite annual Trade Show – well now is the time to plan for next year. Review with others who attended and pick out the best practices seen at the Trade Show.
Can you offer similar best practices? Who do you need to contact about being a speaker at the Trade Show sponsored speaker or seminar slots. You will need to start early to block out a good time in the Trade Show. The last day is usually not a great time to be speaking – earlier in the show is better.
Create a plan or strategy for your Trade Show participation. What results and outcomes are important to you? What will it take in new or additional business to provide an acceptable return of return on your investment?
Remember as you plan your strategy – Learning is the primary reason people attend a Trade Show with Relationship building / networking being a close second. So make certain these goals or objectives are included to improve your results.