DO TRADE SHOWS FEATURE IN YOUR 2019 MARKETING PLAN? SHOULD THEY?
So we’ve raced through a blazing hot summer, endured the annual back-to-school shoe / PE Kit / blazer shopping and suddenly in-boxes seem to be filling up again as people head back to work after extended holidays. With only the madness of Halloween, Bonfire Night and Christmas to navigate we’ll soon be on the brink of a fresh new year, promising increased sales, wider distribution and building more sustainable business relationships. So if your return to work means sitting down to write a marketing plan for 2019 have you considered how trade shows and exhibitions fit into your schedule? If not, here are some things to consider to ensure you get the best return on your event investment.
Here’s some industry insight as to why trade shows can be effective and what exhibitors often get wrong:
It’s Not For Everyone
Often there’s an assumption that trade shows are the right tactic for every business but that’s not always true. For some start-up businesses it might be too soon – imagine if your dream customer visits you, sees where your innovation fills a gap in their offer and wants to order significant volumes but you don’t have the capacity or infrastructure to meet their needs. The potential outcome could be they take your idea and produce it themselves creating a more efficient version in direct competition. Or there are scenarios where a new product isn’t quite ready for market yet and the version presented at a trade show disappoints potential customers who won’t give it a second chance. Before getting to the point of setting SMART objectives and booking your space for individual shows, it’s crucial to recognise whether your product or service is at the right point in its life stage to benefit from investing in a trade show.
What Else Is In Your Toolkit?
Trade shows will just be one tactic of an aligned marketing strategy and just one interaction that customers will use to make a decision. It’s important to consider what else you have available in your toolkit that enables you to communicate frequently and consistently with customers to help move them along the decision making path. For example, if you’re selling to a retailer, what promotional and in-store support are you able to offer once they have listed your product to help them sell-though in store? If you’re a software provider showing a new product, how are you planning on using case studies to show how your offer is helping businesses operate more effectively and efficiently – and where will your customers see those case studies e.g. on your website, presented at a conference, in trade media? Trade shows are rarely an effective tactic if used in isolation, either because you have always exhibited at them, or just because they sound like a good idea. The power of trade shows comes from alignment with a range of other trade and consumer marketing tactics that support each other as part of a pro-active, consistent and strategic plan.
Have You REALLY Thought About The Budget?
This is a key area where exhibitors can get caught out by not fully thinking through all the elements of budget they might need for shows and building it into an investment plan from the very start of the project. Trade shows are notoriously expensive – in time, money and people and to do them well you’ll need to have significantly more than just the cost of the floor space – usually at least double. On average, booking costs are around £350 per sq m (£300 for space, £400 for shell scheme) so if you’re looking at a standard 3m x 3m shell, you’ll need around £3,600 for your floor space and around £7,000 for your total budget. If you’re looking at 3 shows a year, that’s adding up to over £20,000 – is that the kind of budget you’ve been thinking about for your annual trade show campaign? If not, and you only have a maximum of £5,000 to spend on trade shows, ask yourself whether it is the right tactic for you? Can you share the costs with any complementary exhibitors or plan your own event more efficiently to target key buyers using your £5,000? We’re not trying to talk you out of trade shows, we passionately believe they’re a winning tactic for feeding your sales pipeline – but if you don’t have the money to do them properly, you’re wasting your money.
Have You Got Butterflies?
Most importantly, are you excited at the thought of running a trade show campaign? In the same way trade shows need money, they also demand huge amounts of time, patience, attention to detail and energy and some people just don’t like doing them. If you don’t enjoy the process, if you’re not buzzing on build day and enthusiastic about all the new contacts that you’re planning to meet, then visitors will see it in how you and your stand are presented. If strategically trade shows are important to your business but you’re not the right person to project manage it, you have options, either within your own team or through outsourcing to partners like ourselves who can organise absolutely everything for you. As Richard Branson has said many times, one of the qualities of a great leader is surrounding yourself with people who are better than you at the things you can’t do.
So if you’re not sure whether trade shows and exhibitions are the right tactic for your business ask yourself these questions:
- What is my organisation’s key objective for the next 3-5 years?
- How likely is it that your audience will look for solutions at trade shows?
- If your customers want to buy your product the day after the show, can they?
- If your customer can’t buy your product or service straight away, can you clearly articulate when, where and how they will be able to buy it in future and how you will keep them up-dated?
- If one customer wanted to place a very large volume order, could you supply it?
- Do you understand your proposition from your customer’s perspective?
- Do you have a clearly defined sales and marketing strategy which trade shows logically fit in to?
- Have you got the necessary resources in terms of time, money and energy that investment in a trade show requires?
- Are you excited about the thought of planning and delivering a trade show?
- If you’re nervous about planning and delivering your next show, what’s the key reason behind your anxiety?
Still not sure? Why not give the ProExTra team a call on 07891 122542 and we can talk through your trade show troubles!