If you’re not exhibiting – why you should start now!

Are your profits going in the wrong direction? Are you exasperated with the lack of warm leads that your sales team or website are delivering with regards to sales? Are you out of ideas on how to increase customer engagement, build brand awareness and generate leads? Are you disillusioned with all the money spent on agencies who are incapable of delivering on their promises and providing you with real results? Have you been exhibiting for years without any success, or just about to add it to your marketing mix. Well, here we examine the reasons if you’re not exhibiting now – why you need to start!

Many of our clients at SHAPES are seasoned exhibitors and are acutely aware of the unique benefits of exhibiting. Within the B2B sector, customers report that new business opportunities and sales conversations that take place during tradeshows can represent as much as 80% or more of their business unit’s annual turnover. With statistics this high, what business in their right mind wouldn’t want to add attendance at tradeshows to their marketing mix? There are a wide variety of industry-specific exhibitions, trade shows, and conferences where you can introduce or showcase your products or services – many of which are significant for your business and customers because they will outline the trends from the past year, and well as set the future ones. Look for trade shows that fit well with your target audience, as well as within your allocated budget. You can use online resources such as TSNN, EventsEye or Worldwide Trade Show Calendar to narrow down your search.

“67% of B2B marketers say that events make for one of the most effective strategies they use.”- Webdam.com, 2014

Opportunities for networking

Exhibitions and events are serious business, but they also provide the perfect opportunity to take advantage of a captive audience and network over a few days with other professionals in your industry from all over the world in a friendly and informal way. While the networking opportunities with influential executives are vast, exhibiting at, as opposed to just attending a trade show will also give your sales team an unprecedented level of access to interested and motivated buyers. It’s common knowledge that delegates attending trade shows tend to be more motivated and responsive, and are therefore more likely to convert their enthusiasm into sales and commit to a deal on the day. With the majority of attendees looking for new suppliers, not only will you close business deals more successfully, but 62% of exhibitors say that exhibiting at trade shows also saves them money by bringing a huge number of potential prospects under one roof at the same time.

Building brand awareness

“74% of consumers say a branded experience makes them more likely to buy the products being promoted.’- Event Track, 2015

Depending on how well-known your brand is, your company’s brand awareness objectives will differ depending on how well and how many customers can currently recognise and recall your brand. The belief with brand awareness is that a consumer’s ability to identify or remember your brand is central to their purchasing decision-making. Brand recall and recognition are therefore critical objectives as they will provide the customer with enough information for purchasing to proceed. Exhibiting is an one way of demonstrating to your clients that your company is a serious player, reliable, and significant enough to invest in having a presence at the leading events and conferences.

With regular and consistent attendance at key trade shows, you can reinforce your key brand messages and brand positioning within your marketplace and generate the necessary excitement required for customer acquisition and retention. With today’s consumers more discerning and more responsive than ever, an engaging and immersive experience, which helps your audience interact better with your brand at times when they’re likely to convert enthusiasm into sales, can cause a surge in profit and brand visibility.

Increasing Customer Engagement

“Two-thirds of attendees at trade shows place a high level of importance on face-to-face interaction during the pre-purchasing stages of the buying process.”

Exhibitions and events are the ideal launch point for starting discussions with clients and the perfect platform to connect with and stimulate their participation. A well designed and engaging exhibition stand – at the right show with a highly targeted audience – can trigger added interest in your products and services, encourage live, back-and-forth interaction and evoke positive attitudes that will help customers stay, explore, affiliate and interact with your brand. Nothing quite compares to meeting with your prospects face to face, as it supports the customer-centric two-way dialogue, gives you unique access to your target audience, as well as helping you to learn their key motivational drivers for participation.

One of the most productive ways to develop penetrable customer engagement is to proactively connect with your clients at a key tradeshow, listen to their unique challenges and to try to make them feel more involved in your business, rather than just a number. With customers now demanding more engaging and valuable experience from brands; they are now expecting you to spark the right emotions, with the right connection, at the right time.

Generating new leads

85% of B2B marketers say lead generation is the most important organisational goal for the next 12 months.” – Content Marketing Institute, 2015.

A key marketing challenge for many businesses is lead generation, for strategic alliance but most importantly for potential customers. This is where tradeshows shine. Where else can you meet face-to-face with a highly targeted audience over a few days and deliver more leads than a sales team could reach in three months? People frequently attend trade shows in their search for new suppliers, as they can easily meet with the major decision makers, evaluate all their options under one roof and quickly make competitive comparisons. According to Exhibit Surveys, one out of every two attendees at a trade show is planning to buy at least one product exhibited as a result of attending trade shows. Meeting with your prospects and current customer while exhibiting at tradeshows will advance the sales cycle, help you to develop relationships with new clients as well as reinforcing existing ones.

Market research and competitor analysis

“89% say trade shows keep them up to date on trends and developments within their industry.”

At tradeshows, you can also learn a lot about the challenges and opportunities your customers and clients are facing as well providing you with an opportunity to gather competitive intelligence and insights. By taking note of prices and special deals offered by other exhibitors you can compare how competitive your offers are to theirs. Exposing yourself and your brand to new people and new businesses can help you acquire knowledge of new products, services, suppliers, and the latest trends, as well as providing a source of inspiration for new ideas. It is also perhaps the best time to request feedback from customers and prospects concerning their general opinion about your business offering, and how you might improve.

Attention of the Media

Whatever the scale and budget of your tradeshow or event, exposure and coverage of your brand within the media are essential. Gaining media coverage is one of the main benefits of attending trade shows as journalists and bloggers attend tradeshows such as IBC and CES on special press days to discover new products and the latest industry trends. So if you want to be one of the hundreds or thousands of other exhibitors at a busy show to capture their attention, then you need to make sure your business stands out with an appealing exhibit and a well-rehearsed elevator pitch about the event and why your product/service is different. Your response will be critical to whether they will remember you, and more importantly, write about you.

It is also a good idea to consider creating a website or page dedicated to your brand’s appearance at the trade show, with relevant facts and marketing material. If you’re planning an engaging and compelling custom exhibition stand, now is the time to make it known, to gather pre-publicity and interest before the event. If traditional, digital and social media coverage is high, then your tradeshow attendance will be seen as a success.

Return on Investment

“48% of brands realise an ROI of between 3:1 to 5:1 with their events and experiences.” CEIR, 2015

Decision makers rank industry-specific trade shows as giving them the highest ROI, over trade publications, sales calls, user groups, consultants, etc. Every brand will have their individual objectives for attendance at tradeshows. If your primary goal is lead generation, then one of the easiest ways to measure ROI is to examine the leads generated, how many of these leads led to contracts, and what is the projected value of these contracts? You can then calculate the expected value of these customers against the cost of exhibiting or sponsoring the event. If your primary goal for exhibiting is generating brand awareness, you can measure the sales interest following your tradeshow, but the biggest key return here is the level of media coverage achieved. Collect and analyse the press mentions and social mentions to calculate the amount of reach generated. You can track social media monitoring with a variety of Social Media Monitoring tools.

Still not convinced?

Then here’s list of statistics that prove just how important events may be to your brand.

“74% of event attendees say that they have a more positive opinion about the company, brand, product or service being promoted after the event.”
“43% of event attendees believe the value of face-to-face interactions will continue to increase over the next two years.”
“87% of consumers said they purchased the brand’s product or service after an event at a later date.”
“79% of marketers generate sales using event marketing.”
“65% of brands say that their event and experiential programs are directly related to sales.”
“72% percent of consumers say they positively view brands that provide great experiences.”
“65% of people think that live events help them understand a product.”
“62% say that trade shows save them money by bringing many vendors under one roof at the same time.”
“88% of attendees have not met with a member of your company’s sales staff in the preceding 12 months.”

While the events can generate huge leads from interested and motivated buyers, making sure that post-show efforts remain high are crucial, as many businesses will attend a show, put up the pop-up, talk to a few visitors and return to the office without any follow-ups. It sounds questionable, but stats indicate that as many as 79% of leads generated at shows are not followed up. To achieve success with events, they require careful planning not only before the event but also during and immediately after the event has finished.

If your budget doesn’t quite yet stretch to a booth, stand or sponsorship package, we’d still suggest you purchase a ticket for attendance at the event, to scope it our for future exhibiting, to start networking, and to gain valuable intel about your industry or competition. Attendance at the education sessions offered at shows, not only provides an excellent opportunity to network but can also help you to understand the customer challenges that your industry is facing so that you can tailor your solutions and responses in overcoming them.

With regards to growth and sales, second only to a company website, tradeshows and events are considered the next most successful tactic in a marketer’s mix. So with the right strategy, every exhibition or event you attend is an opportunity to increase sales and grow your company’s customer base significantly.

However, if you decide not to invest in exhibiting at tradeshows or events, you may very well be missing out on a huge potential pool of business opportunities.

Blog post written by
Amanda Bates – Marketing Director – SHAPES

 Sources:
http://www.cvent.com/en/pdf/5-strategies-for-increasing-roi-whitepaper.pdf
http://www.eventmarketer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/2016EventTrackExecSummary.pdf
http://cdn.eventmarketer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/EventTrack2015_Consumer.pdf
https://webdam.com/2014-marketing-statistics-infographic/
http://blog.eventfarm.com/blog/35-statistics-that-every-event-marketer-should-know
https://eventbrite-s3.s3.amazonaws.com/marketing/Millennials_Research/Gen_PR_Final.pdf