Trade shows have been around since the Middle Ages. Back then, merchants set up booths in a common location and invited people to visit. Everyone benefited from the traffic.
Not much has changed since those distant times. Today, business owners still set up displays in a common area, such as a convention hall. They still invite customers and prospects to stop by and discuss their needs. And like the trade fairs in medieval times, everyone benefits from the traffic.
Strangely, trade show marketing, as a strategy for connecting with current and prospective customers, is the focus of numerous myths and misconceptions. Many of them have managed to persist for years despite clear evidence that disproves them. We’ll expose 5 of those myths below. If you’ve been bamboozled by any of the following, it’s time that you learn the truth.
Myth #1: Trade Show Marketing Has A Low ROI
It does indeed for many exhibitors. For them, attending the event turns out to be a lousy investment. But that has a lot to do with their lack of preparation, their misguided booth design, and their ineffective follow-up process after the event ends.
By contrast, many exhibitors have found that attending trade shows is a remarkably productive marketing strategy. They can connect with customers, attract targeted leads, and build awareness about their companies’ products.
Myth #2: The More You Spend On A Trade Show Exhibit, The More Success You’ll Enjoy
Your trade show exhibit doesn’t have to be costly in order to be effective. A creative design, bold signage, and a clear message are enough to draw the attendees you want to meet. Those things can be accomplished without spending your entire marketing budget on your trade show exhibit.
Keep in mind that your success will also hinge on whether your staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and responsive. And as mentioned earlier, it will depend on how well you follow up with the folks you meet at the event.
Myth #3: You Must Offer Giveaways To Draw Attendees
Giveaways are a staple at trade shows. Nearly every exhibitor offers them to attendees in an attempt to increase booth traffic. Some exhibitors are savvy enough to imprint their companies’ names and contact details on the giveaways.
The problem is, most of the swag that is given to attendees is tossed into the trash. The items offer little to no value — how many key rings and highlighters can you possibly use?
Having said that, giveaways can be used effectively at the event. Flash drives, t-shirts, and coffee mugs are good options. They’re useful, and thus more likely to be kept by the attendee. But don’t believe you have to give things away to attract your target audience and make a positive impression. Do that by being professional and helpful with an eye toward creating relationships.
Myth #4: You Just Need Bodies To Work Your Booth At The Event
How many exhibits have you visited in the past where the employees were unfriendly and unresponsive? Maybe they neglected to approach you when you stopped by. Perhaps they were curt when answering your questions.
You were likely turned off by the experience. So too would most attendees be turned off.
With that in mind, you want your best people to work at your trade show exhibit. You want employees who are proactive and adept at starting conversations with strangers. They should be knowledgeable about your company’s products and able to present them as creative solutions to attendees’ problems.
Hint: look to your sales or marketing departments for these type of people. The interaction they’ll experience at the event is likely to come naturally to them.
Myth #5: The Event’s Conclusion Is A Good Time For A Vacation
When the convention hall lights are turned off for the last time, you may be tempted to take a weeklong vacation. After all, you’ve earned it. You spent weeks preparing for the show and put in 16-hour days during its duration. You deserve to take some time off, right?
Not so fast.
One of the most important things you can do after the trade show ends is to follow up with the attendees who gave you their contact information. Attendees are unlikely to call you on their own. They’re busy. Moreover, they might not have the sense of urgency that would otherwise spur them to pick up the phone.
You and your staff must be proactive in reaching out to your leads. More importantly, you need to do so soon after the event ends, when you, your company, and your products are still fresh in the prospect’s mind. Although you’re tired, this is not the time to take a vacation.
Your trade show exhibit design, your employees’ performance, and your follow-up process after the event will dictate your success. Before attending your next expo, revisit the myths we’ve covered above to make certain you arrive with the right expectations.