Trade shows are designed to let entrepreneurs meet many potential customers face-to-face in a brief period of time inexpensively.
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If done right, they can be a valuable part of your marketing plans, allowing you to effectively generate new sales leads and quickly get your messages to your target markets.
There are plenty of trade shows to pick from. According to the Trade Show Bureau, more than 4,300 were held nationwide in 1994, attracting 85 million visitors.
Why can a trade show significantly help your business? Qualified buyers for your products and services are all in one place for a few days. Not only can you make an impression, but you can actually do business at the trade shows, garnering new customers and possibly even covering your trade show costs before the show is over.
How much does it cost to exhibit at a trade show? Trade shows help level the playing field for smaller firms, since booth space is generally inexpensive ($13 per square foot on average, with the typical small booth covering 100 square feet).
Small companies can usually afford attractive trade show displays. With creative marketing and good trade show booth design, small businesses can actually appear as substantial as much larger corporations.
In facft, the Trade Show Bureau reports that of the firms exhibiting at business-to-business shows, 44% have fewer than 50 employees. Sophisticated exhibitors do well at trade shows no matter what their size, while the naive and inexperienced can waste thousands of dollars and countless hours - and possibly do more harm than good. Using trade shows effectively takes only a little effort and planning.
Trade Show Benefits
It is possible during the course of one trade show to personally meet most of your important clients and suppliers, making shows a good way to establish and reinforce relationships.
Because trade shows generally take place at a single location, have short runs (usually one to three days), and bring together thousands of exhibitors and potential customers, they are a very powerful marketing medium. The Trade Show Bureau claims that the average total cost of closing a sale in the field is $1,080, while the cost of closing a sale to a qualified trade show prospect is $419.
Because most business-to-business shows do not allow selling on the show floor, generating sales leads is the most common reason exhibitors participate. Trade shows are also a great marketing vehicle for introducing new products, and that's another popular reason for exhibiting.
Reasons for Exhibiting
Common reasons for exhibiting at trade shows include:
- Generating sales leads.
- Generating actual sales at the show.
- Enhancing your image and visibility.
- Reaching a specific audience.
- Establishing a presence in the marketplace.
- Improving the effectiveness and efficiency of your marketing efforts.
- Personally meeting your customers, competitors and suppliers.
- Prospecting for new customers.
- Introducing new products and services.
- Demonstrating your product in ways not possible using other marketing channels.
- Recruiting distributors or dealers.
- Educating your target audience.
One more thing to remember. Trade shows are a great venue for generating PR for your company. Usually, the editors and journalists who cover your industry will attend all the industry trade shows. If you exhibit and capture their attention, you may find your company and its products featured in their publications. That will generate additional sales leads. Just keep your eyes open for the trade show badges that say "PRESS" and when they come by, be sure to IMPRESS them.