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The Value Of Tradeshows

14719981_xl (Copy) You may or may not know that On-Demand Marketing recently formed a strategic alliance with He:Lee EXPO in Duesseldorf, Germany. To learn more go to:

This exciting event made me think about all the companies that exhibit year after year and why they are doing it. Exhibiting is really expensive and who knows what the ROI is, right?

Well, let’s examine some facts.



You may want to participate because

• It’s expected by your industry that you’ll be there
• We’re going because the competition is there
• We’re going again because we’ve always exhibited at this show

Those are ok reasons to go but they really sound pretty wishy washy to you as well, don’t they?

So let’s ask the question again: Why should you go and what should you expect to get out of trade shows?

For one, they should be an integral part of your marketing communication plan. Why? Because they are the only occasion – to my knowledge – when you are in front of thousands of potential customers. It’s your chance to tell them why you are the only choice and the best fit for their company.

If you have never exhibited – start small. There are lots of regional shows you can participate in and they won’t break the bank. See what works, test your messaging, make connections and ask how you can help your customers be more successful. Take that knowledge and be better at the next show.

No matter how large the event, you should answer the following four questions before you go:

Why are you going? Some examples are new markets, increase brand awareness, increase market share. Make sure everyone agrees on the “Why”.
Who is your perfect customer? This is the Holy Grail. Who do you want to reach? How do you define a qualified lead? Write down who your target customer is.
What is your message? Given the “perfect customer” description, what will he or she respond to? Does it jive with your marketing materials? Is the booth staff trained to sing from the same sheet?
How will you know that you’ve been successful? Did you come up with meaningful metrics that will show management that you have something to show for your sore feet?

If you answered these questions you have a huge leg up on your fellow exhibitors who just show up.

To increase your chance of success by several multiples:
• Set appointments in advance
• Have genuine conversations and listen
• Train the staff (this can’t be overstated)
• Invite, or recruit your management to be present. They can make a big difference in showing prospects that they are taken seriously.
• Qualify your leads. It’s not quantity it’s quality. Are they a good fit? What are the criteria?
• FOLLOW UP! 86% of exhibitors go to shows to generate leads and 79% of leads are NOT followed up with (CEIR).

Lastly, what do you measure? It really depends on your industry, but the common items you want to collect are

• Number of qualified leads
• Number of follow up meetings
• Sales (some exhibitions are sales shows, so this is an easy one)
• Number of post-show sales/closed deals
• Press impact
• Cost per qualified lead

Think about your individual formula. If you sell 150 widgets or come away with ten really good contacts – how will that impact your business?

I’m currently organizing two shows for a client. If they net one contract from each one, the shows have more than paid for themselves.

Is it worth your while to exhibit at tradeshows? Ask yourself the four questions above. Define what “success” is for you with solid metrics, follow up on leads and then – two months or so after the show – sit down and do the math.

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