Guest post by Kelsey Stage.
Thinking about which trade shows to participate in this year? For growing companies, trade shows can be a powerful way to market products and increase brand recognition. Face to face conversation is powerful.
According to recent research, 80% of marketers believe events are critical to their company’s success, and two-thirds of B2B marketers say live events are their most effective marketing channel.
Of course, life events are a significant investment of your time and money, which means you need to strategically choose the right events in order to optimize your returns.
With proper research and evaluation, you can find trade shows that attract the right prospects and offer big opportunities for your brand. Here are six tips to find your perfect matches.
Identify Your Objectives
Before you start evaluating upcoming trade shows, it’s important to define your objectives and business goals. What do you want to achieve by participating in the event?
For example, if your goal is to capture new leads and grow your business, you will want to choose a trade show where most of the attendees are consumers—or for B2B trade shows, where most attendees will be from the right industry and have buying authority.
However, if your goal is to meet with industry partners and form strategic partnerships, an event where only wholesalers and distributors are present may be a better fit.
By first identifying your objectives, you can then evaluate an opportunity with a single question in mind: How will it help me reach my goals?
Determine Strengths and Weaknesses
Every trade show has strengths and weaknesses to consider. Some high-cost events could also have significantly higher marketing potential. Another option might be less expensive, but if it’s in an inconvenient location, that could affect consumer turnout.
As you research upcoming events, it may help to make a list of pros and cons for each opportunity. This will help you evaluate your choices and make the right decision for your business.
It’s also important to consider how well the event is organized. Research the history of each trade show and make sure it has a good reputation before you commit to it. You might consider contacting past attendants or reading reviews online to get a perspective on the quality of the event.
Calculate Cost vs. ROI
Once you’ve identified the right opportunities, it’s time to make a plan to maximize your investments. Part of any comprehensive trade show evaluation includes establishing an event budget and projected ROI. Trade show fees and additional costs can add up quickly, and you don’t want to be taken by surprise.
Start by calculating all your business expenses, including trade show space and sponsorship fees, booth design and setup costs, and travel and accommodation expenses, as well as your budget for trade show giveaways. This part is straightforward, but it’s important to keep track of your initial investment.
Estimating the projected ROI of the event can be difficult because there are so many variables. Based on the specific business objectives, set some achievable goals for new leads, conversion rates, typical deal size, and the average cost of a sale. Use the event expense and projected revenue to help predict the ROI of each opportunity.
Consider investing in an event management tool that can help with planning and organization as well as tracking expenses and monitoring results.
Perform a Competitor Analysis
Another way to evaluate a trade show is by performing a competitive analysis. Which events do your competitors attend? Are they getting good results? Are there any events so central to your industry that your company would be “conspicuous by its absence”?
Attending the same events as your closest competitors is an excellent opportunity to improve your own booth performance for future events. Check out the exhibitor’s website to gather competitive intelligence, such as:
- Where your competitors will be located at the event
- Your competitors’ pre-show strategies
- Any media attention leading up to the event
During the show, you can visit your competitors’ booths, making note of any design elements or cool promotional items that stand out to you. Afterwards, incorporate your findings into future trade show strategies to maximize the power of each event in the future.
Create an Effective Marketing Message
Your brand’s marketing efforts should be adapted to address the purpose of the event. Customize your booth signage and messaging to address the specific concerns and needs of event attendees.
Consult the business objectives and consider what type of promotional campaigns will help you reach these goals. If your goal is to capture 200 new leads, your marketing strategy will look different than a target to attract new talent.
Always consider the theme of the trade show and how your message can support it. Tailor your approach at each event to address your target audience in a unique way.
After the event is over, survey your customers and ask them what value they derived from your booth and whether your marketing efforts resonated with them. Use their feedback to improve your performance at the next trade show.
Once you’ve wrapped up each event, you need to determine if it was a good investment of your budget and time. By measuring the quality of your leads, and capturing other valuable event data, you can decide whether the trade show was a good fit for your brand and whether or not it makes sense to attend again in the future.
How many leads did you obtain from the event? Of these leads, how many of them converted into customers? Did your team meet or exceed its goal?
The answers to these questions can help you make better decisions about future opportunities. You can also ask others in your industry (e.g., channel partners or vendors of complementary products) which trade shows have produced high-quality leads to find a better fit for your company.
There’s no question that trade shows can be a cost-effective way to gain new customers and grow your brand—but only if you select the right events for your organization. Attending the wrong event can hurt your return-on-investment and prove costly for your business.
Keep these tips in mind to determine which trade shows are a good fit for your company. The right event will help maximize your investment and achieve your business objectives. Plus, it will give your team the chance to interact with people face-to-face and increase the visibility of your brand.
Kelsey Stage is the Vice President of Development for PROMOrx. Outside the office, you can find her dropping in on local yoga studios on the road and trying to eat healthy-one açai bowl at a time.