Trade shows, one can safely say, have stood the test of time and, even in today’s world of online and digital marketing, remain an untouchable method of promotion and selling.
So, why do exhibitors attend trade shows? What is the purpose of a trade show? Why do businesses invest so much money, time, and other resources into an event that lasts a mere few hours or days? If you are intrigued by the popularity of trade shows, this blog may be enlightening.
Why do Exhibitors Attend Trade Shows?
Trade shows are a unique way to establish face-to-face connections with your (potential) customers as well as with other major players in your industry. Stepping outside the realms of remote selling and digital marketing allows you to witness, first-hand, how customers perceive and interact with your offerings, and how you can tailor your products and services as per their needs.
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Below are the key reasons that businesses exhibit at trade shows:
1) To Meet and Interact with Prospective Clients/Customers:
Have you tried emailing a potential lead, only to be met with deafening silence from the other end? Trying to get word out about your business is one of the hardest parts of outbound marketing, and being running into dead-ends is quite the norm.
A trade show provides you the perfect opportunity to meet and connect with prospective clients or customers in-person, instead of through email or phone. As soon as you meet a prospect face-to-face, you go from being just another voice or email, to someone they can know, recognize, and trust.
Not many attendees will close deals with you on the trade floor. However, even those who show interest in your product are far likelier to be responsive once they see you as someone more than just another seller claiming to have the best thing since sliced bread.
2) For Lead-Generation Opportunities:
As you can guess, face-to-face interactions with industry-related people offer ample opportunities to generate leads. The trade show floor is buzzing with thousands of attendees looking for effective solutions to their unique needs and problems. With a smart and well thought out promotional strategy, you can make yourself stand out and lure crowds towards your booth.
Since a trade show is only open to people and businesses relevant to the industry for which the event is being conducted, you can be certain of coming across interested attendees. This means that, as long as you have a desirable product and an impactful marketing strategy, you are bound to generate leads.
Often, industry professionals attend trade shows because they want to learn about the latest trends, techs, and tools. These attendees normally have plenty of purchasing power, as well as a will to bet on something new.
3) To Strengthen Relationships with Existing Clients/Customers:
While a trade show is an excellent opportunity to meet new prospects, it also gives exhibitors the chance to touch base with current clients and customers. While most business these days is conducted through the phone or email, a face-to-face interaction is still hard to beat.
According to an Oxford Economics study (published by the Wall Street Journal), face-to-face meetings are the best way to create stronger bonds with both potential and current customers.
How many times have you had a customer double their order through email, or share their future plans on the phone? During trade shows, however, customers are far likelier to place larger orders and share their long-term goals and objectives with you.
If you believe that face-to-face meetings have turned obsolete, think again: nothing strengthens the buyer-seller bond like a genuine, in-person interaction.
4) To Create Brand Visibility:
Whether you are a small startup or an established corporation, a trade show provides you with the opportunity to spread word about your business and what it is all about.
For small businesses, trade shows can serve as a platform where they can talk about their USPs (Unique Selling Points), and any promotional prices or discounts. Although these businesses may not be able to afford a large exhibit, even a 10’ x 10’ setup can prove quite impactful with the use of effective design elements like product displays, kiosks, and counters.
Larger companies, meanwhile, can develop a large and powerful exhibit – full with interactive displays, bold graphics, and hanging structures – to establish (or re-establish) themselves as the industry leaders.
However, to make the best use of a trade show for creating visibility, do not forget to use your social accounts to create hype and excitement around the event. Many buyers use Facebook as a purchasing platform, which is why you need to ensure that your profile is neat, professional, and easy to find. Besides, there is more than a fair chance that people will look you up on the internet after and even during the trade show, which is why your social profiles should be well maintained and managed.
5) To Learn About Industry Developments:
Trade shows allow businesses to announce their latest developments or innovations – innovations that, at times, have the potential to disrupt the entire industry.
In this world of cutthroat competition, would you rather stay on top of what your rivals are doing? Or are you okay being left completely out of the loop? Exhibiting at a trade show is not just about demonstrating products and connecting with customers –it also gives you the chance to acquaint yourself with the latest and most significant goings-on in your industry.
For this reason, it may be worth your while to create a trade show team not entirely composed of sales staff. Allow some of your technical players to attend trade shows and attend presentations, as this exposure will enable them to stay updated about the newest industry technologies, trends, and techniques within the industry.
6) To Research the Competition:
Exhibiting at a trade show means that you will get the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the biggest names in the industry. Seize this chance and learn as much you can about your competitors. Take note of their products, displays, sales pitches, and engagement tactics – this knowledge will come in quite handy while preparing for your next trade show.
For instance, see if your competitors are sponsoring a service, and if their sales pitches include live presentations. You can also get your booth staff to initiate conversations with the competitors’ staff. However, if you do go down this route, it is important to stay subtle and only ask questions that an interested attendee would ask. These questions could be about:
- Their products or services, and the key features
- Any new products they have recently launched (or are about to launch)
- The location of their company
- The number of branches (if any)
- Their business vision, mission, and philosophy
You can also use a ranking system to evaluate your competitors’ booths for aspects like:
- The display itself
- Theme and message
- Presentations and demonstrations
7) Close Deals on the Floor:
From vehement objections from the potential customer, to the anxiety of losing a prospect, there are few things as tense as an outbound sales call, where rejection and refusals are the norm.
Trade shows, however, paint a completely different story. In fact, according to a study conducted by the Simmons Market Research Bureau, over 50% attendees at a trade show are likely to make at least one purchase at the event. Another study, meanwhile, reveals that an astonishing 91% of attendees perceive trade shows as ‘extremely useful’ for their service and product sourcing efforts.
A Purchasing Director or Manager talking to you on the phone is almost always crumbling under a pile of responsibilities and tasks. As such, it is not unsurprising for them to display a disinterest in your product and proposal. Trade show attendees, on the other hand, have only one objective in mind – to find the best possible products and deals.
So, trade shows are one of those rare environments in which your team and business are surrounded by people genuinely interested in what you have to say and offer.
8) To Obtain Customer Feedback:
The in-person customer interactions at trade shows provide exhibitors with the chance to seek out real-time feedback about their brand and offerings, and how your customers interact with the same. These feedbacks provide valuable insight which your company can then use to tweak your products/services and marketing strategy.
While the feedback of current customers is important, make sure to not ignore what your prospects have to say either. What your potential customers think about a product like yours will help you understand how you can meet your buyers’ needs at every step of the purchase journey.
So, there you have it – all the main reasons that exhibitors attend trade shows. While exhibiting at a trade show is in no way cheap or inexpensive, the unique and substantial benefits that these events offer make them worth a business’ while.
To learn more about trade shows and how to make the most of them, please feel free to check out some of the other blogs on our website.
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