Marketing professionals know the blood, sweat, tears, and money that go into finding new leads or making conversions. But it might come as a surprise that it costs 22% less to contact a potential buyer at a trade show than it does through traditional sales calls.
Here are five key lessons marketing professionals can learn from successful trade shows and how to apply them from a broader marketing perspective:
1. Perfect your product positioning
Trade shows provide perfect forums for launching and testing marketing strategies. Because the events are brief, they force you to think about holistic campaigns executed over set periods of time.
For instance, my company works with a global pharmaceutical company that produces medicines to address pressing disease states. We rely on trade shows to gather competitive intelligence on engagement strategies with physicians as well as feedback from other healthcare providers visiting our client’s booth.
2. Feast on feedback opportunities
After years of research, testing, and production, a trade show might be the first in-person interaction between customers and your product. The show represents an invaluable opportunity for you to observe how customers approach, think about, and use the product. What do they say about your product? How do they interact with it?
Unlike radio, TV, or the Internet, trade shows provide live feedback from consumers. The feedback can be varied, including focus groups during the show, pre-show surveys, at-show exit surveys, or post-show interviews. Be prepared to invest time in gathering feedback. Then, leverage the customer testimonials on social media, in print and online media campaigns, and in TV ads.
3. Bank on branding opportunities
What better promotional backdrop could there be than a brand-saturated trade show booth? Don’t let the opportunity slip by for you to create valuable content while you have these elements at your disposal. Invest a little extra time and money here and now to collect footage of people interacting with your product or of your leaders interacting with customers. This way, you’ll have content to leverage down the road — but be sure to gather signatures on the appropriate release and permission forms.
Also, keep it simple by integrating social platforms like Instagram into your booth via a large monitor. With 150 million monthly users and an engagement rate that’s 15 times greater than Facebook’s, Instagram is an effective way to leverage your social presence to grab attention and drive booth traffic.
4. Utilise social and visual benchmarking
A trade show is the perfect place to see what your competitors are doing and how the marketplace receives products. Take a look at their pre-show marketing, social media campaigns, and resulting booth draws. Just as you would in a broader marketing context, it’s important to understand your company’s position and niche in the industry. Ask yourself, “How do we tighten our positioning to connect with our target market?”
5. Remember you’re there to learn
Too many marketers miss out on educational opportunities at conferences and trade shows. They think they don’t have time or already know it all.
Even if you’re strapped for time or are already a world-renowned expert on a subject, you’ll benefit from these sessions. They’re where people and prospects gather in one place. If you forego the full conference pass and just work the booth, you’ll miss out on crucial market, competitive, and customer intelligence that could inform everything from product development to your marketing strategy.
Because a trade show takes place in a finite amount of time — and forces you to convey your entire brand positioning in that time — it’s a great opportunity to test current marketing strategies, inform new ones, and gain valuable feedback. To reap those benefits, you have to be ready from the start. Don’t let ego or fatigue make you think you don’t need to attend that last information session or educational seminar. It might just be where you meet your next multimillion-dollar lead.
In what other ways have trade shows impacted your marketing strategy? Let me know in the comments below.