In this digital age, when so much marketing is focused online, are exhibitions still relevant? You have the potential to reach millions of customers over the internet so why bother attending exhibitions or trade shows?

While trade shows are far from easy, they can be one of the most rewarding forms of marketing when approached with the right strategy. Trade show veterans will attest to the fact that the return on investment achieved from a successful event is difficult to match using other forms of outbound marketing.

So why should you be an exhibitor at a trade show? Here are a few good reasons:

1. Brand Awareness

Trade shows offer a unique opportunity to raise awareness of your brand. If you are just starting up, an industry specific event is the perfect place to launch your business. Even if you are an established company it is still a great opportunity to build on your brand and showcase your products.

It is probably the only time you will be in a room full of your competitors with the same access to potential customers as the big players in your industry.

Having an eye-catching stand will really show the industry and your customers that you are a serious player. Even if your main competitors have a larger floor space there is still lots you can do to draw attention to your stand, see this blog for ideas.

2. Meet clients face-to-face

Contacting potential customers by phone or email may be easier but it is impersonal and sometimes frustratingly ineffectual. An exhibition gives you the chance to speak to potential clients face-to-face. They are generally there because they are looking for products like yours, and are more likely to interact with you in a live setting than over the phone or internet.

You have a unique opportunity to build a rapport with them and gain their trust. This is essential to make a sale. On the phone you are just another voice, in person you become someone they can meet and connect with. This also gives you the edge if you are calling to follow up, they can put a face to a name, increasing the connection.

3. 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 Exhibitors Survey Inc, over 82% of exhibition attendees have buying influence, and the Simmons Market Research Bureau has found that 1 in 2 visitors make purchases at exhibitions or trade shows.

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.

4. Build relationships with existing customers

As well as seeking new business you can use your attendance at a trade show to bond with existing clients. A study by Oxford Economics found that face-to-face meetings are the most effective way to strengthen relationships with both prospective customers and current customers. Make sure you email your database to tell them about your attendance at the event. Then if they attend, take the opportunity to meet up and build on your relationship. It may lead to further sales but if not it will still cement your ties with them.

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 perfect opportunity to get this feedback from them and take any action needed.

5. Network

An important advantage of exhibiting is the chance to network with industry peers. Trade shows and exhibitions bring together large numbers of people in your field from far and wide. 70% of exhibitors say they exhibit to create and or strengthen industry relationships or partnerships. This demonstrates that trade shows add significant value beyond reaching clients and prospects.

Trade shows are where an industry gathers, and it’s often the best time to forge and renew your alliances with partners, not just interact with buyers. You may find someone who can strengthen your supply chain and help your business to grow.

6. Assess the Competition

More than half of exhibitors say they exhibit at trade shows because their competition is there. If all your competitors are there you won’t want to be left out. It will also give you the opportunity to see what they are doing – how they are showcasing their products, what they are doing to attract clients, do they have any new product ranges.

If they are taking their products or services in a new direction you can assess the results. If customers like what they are doing, you can consider taking the same route. Likewise, if it doesn’t prove popular you will have saved yourself the effort of doing it too.

7. Learn about new industry developments

Exhibiting gives you the opportunity to attend numerous industry-orientated presentations, seminars, and lectures taking place during the show. These talks, delivered by industry experts, can provide you with new insights that you might have otherwise missed. Learning about new ideas and trends in your industry will impact on how your business operates in the future. If a particular speaker has made a good impression on you, why not introduce yourself and get more specific advice on how you can take your business to the next level?

Trade shows are where many businesses choose to launch new products and innovations, being an exhibitor too will enable you to keep abreast of all that is going on in your industry.

8. Optimise your sales techniques

Trade shows are an excellent opportunity to expose your sales team to many different prospects in a short period. 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. If you want to test and optimise your lead generation strategy, you’ll find no better place than a trade show. Try several different sales pitches on prospects and you’ll quickly learn which ones work and which ones don’t, giving you guidance for future opportunities.

So trade shows offer a wide variety of opportunities to grow your business and gain new sales leads. The face-to-face interaction with qualified leads that they allow provides an un-rivalled chance to gain new business and strengthen bonds with existing customers. Being an exhibitor also lets you see what your competitors and the industry in general are doing. All in all, they offer a great return on investment.

To discuss your future trade show requirements with an expert call us on 01202 723 500 or email