Are Trade Shows/Convention Booths worthwhile?
HI- I'm thinking about getting a table at a convention to raise the visibility of my product. However, it is a costly proposition (over $4000, not including travel, hotel, etc). Wondering if anyone has any experience of advice on attending trade shows or conventions to help generate sales from my appearance there. Thank you in advance!
I think that trade shows are an excellent way to increase business exposure. However, trades shows are not just about drawing attention to yourself, they have the added benefit of allowing you to meet other business owners, network and gain fresh ideas and perspectives. Check out some of these helpful links: http://www.unitwin.com/websitepublisher/blogs/top-5-free-resources-for-your-trade-show-or-promotional-events.html and http://www.forbes.com/sites/garyshapiro/2012/01/04/want-innovation-go-to-a-tradeshow/ Hope it works out for you!
Only if your existing customers plus qualified prospects will be in attendance.
It really depends on what you're looking to get out of this. If you're looking to just network and create visibility, then the $4K investment + travel will still be money well spent regardless. However, if what you're looking for is immediate sales, then you need to consider the venue, the type of customer that attends that specific show as well as the type of customer you're looking to attract.
Not all shows are equal. If it's b2b and your product is meant to be sold in a b2b concept, then you need to make sure that the show attracts the type of business that would benefit from your product. And then you need to consider how you plan on attracting buyers to your booth as you can't just assume that people will magically find you or automatically know that you will be at the show. Some shows happen multiple times a year (speaking from experience in the wholesale womens contemporary clothing line sales direct to buyers) so not all shows have the same attendance or are given the same level of importance depending on which month you're targeting.
If this is a b2c show that offers direct sales to consumers, then you need to consider again if this is the right customer for your brand, and what advertising you want to put into place prior to the show to let them know that you'll be there - as well as incentives to encourage them to purchase onsite versus doing it through your website or however people are buying your product currently.
Additionally, you need to consider what press (if any) will be there that will benefit your brand as well as how you plan on courting them to encourage them to write about you - as that kind of press is golden.
As others have said, if this is your very first time in the world of trade shows, it's best to go as an attendee first. You can still network and make connections, but you're not stressed about your ROI since you don't need to immediately recoup the expense of exhibition. Depending on your product and the show, you could very well spend close to 10K including the actual exhibition fee, shipping, production, advertising and travel costs.
I'll offer a qualified "Yes" as well since so much is industry and event specific. With that said, here are a few things I've come to believe after years of exhibiting.
1. Know exactly what you are trying to achieve and focus your booth around that.
Try to avoid conceptualizing your booth in a vacuum. You will of course be tempted to relate everything you feel makes your company relevant, and so the "stuff" you present will tend to accumulate, but the reality of the trade show floor is one of manic sensory overload. In light of that, I have found sometimes a simpler approach provides a bit of a respite from the chaos. I've reduced the product displays and added couches to create a more welcoming environment. Doing so has resulted in a more relaxed setting and longer visits with prospects. Whatever it means in your case, the point is to remember that often "Less Is More" and if you focus on a central message which you hammer home you will be less likely to get caught up just chatting the day away.
2. You need a hook, and it pays to be memorable.
Attendees will often avoid making eye contact simply because they have a lot of ground to cover and don't want to be caught up in conversations with people looking to sell them something, which under the circumstances is practically everyone. Having a conversation starter buys you that moment you need to get some interaction going. Where you take it from there is up to you, but you can't close a sale if you aren't talking to a prospect. We operate in golf, and one year I brought a laser-guided practice putter with us to the booth. We weren't selling it (though I did raffle it off), but it got us noticed because people wanted a closer look. In your case a single giant chess piece which towered over the nearby booths might be a single focal point of interest that would provide more ROI than a number of smaller items.
Another practical consideration is climbing into the head of a someone who is fresh back to work from being out for a number of days. I can tell you with certainty that much of their time will be a blur, and the stack of collected business cards likely will never be sorted through. Try to imagine a conversation between two people that attended and had been to your booth in which one is trying to get the other to recall the setting. I had a 10' stuffed bear in the corner one year (our foliar fertilizer line is called Grizzly) which we took people's picture in front of and emailed to them. I have no doubt that people immediately could separate us out from the white noise of pop-up banners and flat screen TV's as a result.
3. Follow up; follow up; follow up.
From our perspective we are looking to outwardly show the community that we are involved, so actual transactional sales aren't the goal. For us the opportunity to be compared and contrasted in person with our competitors is significant because we've done the work of providing an attractive alternative to them versus acting like we want to be them. But that bump in outward brand representation is potentially very fleeting, so we need to be sure to reinforce that effort by getting in touch and once again driving home those key USP's we have identified. No matter what the specific goal, the time and money spent going to a trade show can only fairly be deemed an investment if you do the work after the fact to take advantage of the budding relationships you've set in motion.
Best of luck, and please feel free to look me up and invite me to connect on LinkedIn if you'd like. I love talking about this stuff! www.linkedin.com/in/kendaniels/
My experience is that trade show exhibiting can be the single greatest return on marketing/promotional investment, but it takes strategy. I'm not sure the nature of the show you'll be attending or the product/service you'll be offering. Feel free to share and I'd gladly give you some success ideas.
(I just did a webinar for a national group; it was titled, "The Trade Show Money Machine." You can make it work for you.
I would suggest you ask for an attendance list from the previous year. Trade shows are hit and miss. It depends on your product, service, the need for it and how much promotion goes on ahead of the show. If we can help you, please let us know. Pam Young, Unique Innovations www.uniqueimpact.com.
I would suggest that the trade show(s) you are interested in for your product is to first attend the show as a visitor and see if the audience you believe is there for you is truly in attendance. Also be prepared with your product materials in case you "run" into potential buyers of yur product.
Talk with people exhibiting at the show to gauge attendance and the quality of the attendees from their viewpoints.
This is a less expensive way of testing the waters.
wow that is a lot... you need to know what the footfall is and the demographics of the audience - speak to some others who have been and see what they got out of it - if the return potential is there then it's worth it - if not... there are lots of other ways of getting business... I spent 15 years in events and helped raise traffic for the trade shows including some huge ones in the UK but you need to be very organised to know what you are going to get out of it... hth Amanda
The real answer is not as clear or easy it may seem. You need to answer some questions: YES, if you know who is attending. Yes, if this is your target. Yes, if there is not a better or more cost effective way to acquire new customers. Yes, if your clients will be attending. If you answer NO to any of these questions, I don’t know that I would spend the money. IF you do attend, then as Sandra posted make sure all of your marketing materials are current and take more than you think you will need. And as she stated a flash drive is always appreciated…at least I appreciate them.
Yes. The amount of contacts or even direct sales can be done. Nothing like a face to face, demonstration, or getting to know your service/product first hand.