Trade shows offer unique opportunities to sell to a captive audience who are in buying mode. But with so much focus on selling on-line now, are trade shows still relevant? True, exhibiting at a trade show can be expensive and it takes effort. It can be a significant investment for a small business. But no other form of marketing puts you in front of so many prospective customers in one place. Trade shows bring together all the major players from an industry under one roof. They give you the chance to pitch yourself against your competitors and demonstrate that you are a force to be reckoned with.

Still not convinced? Below are some of the reasons explaining why you should sell at a trade show.

1. Lead Generation

With hundreds, possibly thousands, of attendees at a trade show you are in a great position to build on your CRM database. According to a survey, 83% of exhibitors said meeting potential customers was the most positive aspect of exhibiting at a trade show. And Exhibitors Survey Inc found that over 82% of exhibition attendees have buying influence.

When you speak to a potential client on the phone, you’re often dealing with someone who is busy with their day-to-day tasks. As such, they’re often disinterested. Being an exhibitor at a trade show puts you directly in front of key decision makers who will be in buying mode – something rarely achieved by any other form of outbound marketing.

71% of SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) won business using face-to-face networking. For smaller businesses who don’t have huge advertising budgets, networking events such as trade shows are an effective means of generating new business.

2. Brand Awareness

Trade shows offer a unique opportunity to pitch yourself against your competitors and really showcase your brand. If you are new to the industry, a trade show is a great place to launch yourself and your products onto the market. If you are an established player, a trade show gives you the opportunity to build awareness and demonstrate what you can offer.  Nowhere else allows you to compare yourself against your competitors in one place. Get creative with your exhibition stand and promotional products to really attract attention.

3. Meet clients face-to-face

One of the biggest advantages of selling at a trade show is the ability to do it in person. Human beings are sociable animals and desire human contact. Selling becomes much easier face-to-face than through the anonymity of a phone call or email. Attendees are there to look for new products so you have an opportunity to build a rapport with them and gain their trust, essential to make a sale.

You can also demonstrate your products on your stand, something that is very difficult to achieve online. Despite all the marketing opportunities the internet has provided businesses, the bottom line is that people still prefer to meet people they do business with.

4. Strengthen ties with customers

As well as gaining new business, a trade show gives you the perfect opportunity to meet with existing customers either on your stand or afterwards at a restaurant. Meeting face-to-face will help build on your relationship and you may be able to use the opportunity to sell further products.

Customers are the driving force of your business, it’s important to know what they think and feel about your products and services. An exhibition gives you the ability to get this feedback from them and take any action needed.

Ensure you email your database of customers and prospects prior to the event to tell them of your attendance and try to arrange meetings.

People talking at a Trade Show

5. Asses the competition

A trade show offers the chance to check out what your competitors are up to. Are they launching new products or services? What are they doing that works and what doesn’t?  Seeing them in the flesh is a great opportunity for research. Exhibitions are where businesses will launch their new products or try out new ideas. This will allow you to see how they are received by attendees, and help you decide if you want to take your business in a similar direction or not.

In addition the talks and presentations given at the trade show will show you new innovations in the industry and allow you to see the direction in which things are going.

6. Network

Trade shows are where the main players within an industry gather. This presents a great opportunity to network with your peers. Who knows, you may meet new partners or suppliers who can help your business to grow. You may learn from what others are doing.  The bringing together of the major players from far and wide is an important advantage of a trade show which should not be overlooked.

7. Hone your sales technique

A trade show puts your salespeople in front of customers. They offer you a unique live marketing opportunity that allows you to try out new sales tricks and marketing strategies in a very responsive environment. Try different approaches and techniques to see what works and what doesn’t. 57% of exhibitors said that their trade show staff gained sales skills from exhibiting.

So trade shows offer a unique environment which, if handled correctly, can provide you with a great return on investment (ROI). Trade show veterans claim there is no other marketing activity that reaps the same rewards. But careful planning is essential to take full advantage of the opportunities.  You will need an eye-catching stand, well trained salespeople, promotional products and to conduct pre-show marketing to really get a good ROI from a trade show.

For help planning your next exhibition stand, call us on 01202 723 500 or email designteam@quadrant2design.com.