For many years trade shows, exhibitions, and expo events were a superb way for businesses to generate leads. These events were where the mega deals were concluded. Things have shifted in recent years though.
The power of buying has transferred very much from the seller to the buyer because of the expansion of the Internet. Whereas in the past, if you wanted advice on a product or service, you would contact the business directly, or go to an event or exhibition; nowadays most of that information can be found on the net. As a result, the cost of trade shows has shot up significantly over the past few years.
Why not combine the two? Read on to find out how you can combine tradition events and online technology to create a formidable synergy.
The good news
Before you get cold feet, the Centre for Exhibition Industry Research saw the number of attendees at trade shows rise by 2% in 2013, the last year for which figures are available. Net square feet devoted to trade shows increased slightly, by 0.8%, and the number of exhibitors grew by 0.5%. Although slight, these figures show a decided upward trend.
Exhibiting at and attending trade shows is still a worthwhile means for small businesses to make connections, present products and services to new prospects, and develop enduring business relationships.
Industries with the largest growth in trade show attendance were:
- Industrial and heavy machinery (6.9%)
- Food (5%)
- Sporting goods (2.8%)
- Travel (2.8%)
- Business services (2.6%).
Especially if yours is a business which effectively leverages networking, in-person product demonstrations, or experiential sales, attending or exhibiting at a trade show makes good business sense.
Memorable experiential presentations at expos and events are an outstanding way to connect with your target market in an impactful way. Not only do they demonstrate your knowledge, experience and industry thought-leadership, but an inventive experience can go viral by encouraging participants to take photos, use #hastags, and share status updates.
By creating an experience that fosters an emotional connection with the public, they are more motivated to take specific actions. By delighted and surprising event attendees, they can morph into your product ambassadors, PR allies, and lead-generation resources.
Executed properly, the influence of your booth, table, or stand at an expo ripples out way beyond the mere footfall at the event.
The keys to a successful, profitable activation are ingenious ideas and meticulous planning. Having the right people carry out the task is a vital ingredient.
Consider hiring a specialist to design remarkable, memorable, but still authentic experiential activities. Drawing prospects in by appealing to all five of their senses greatly increases your impact – and the chances of your message being shared.