Is it worth it to attend a trade show? It depends. It can be if you have a clear understanding of the pros and drawbacks of participating and you have a good idea of what you hope to accomplish while you are there. Having a clear goal in mind makes it easier to measure your ROI and ensure that you are truly making the most of the trade show experience. Here are some pros and cons to make an informed decision.
Pros of Attending Trade Shows
Boosted Brand Awareness
Exhibiting at a show lets you roll out your brand in a big way and improves your industry’s overall awareness of what you have to offer. You’ll be exposed to more prospects and be taken more seriously by those already in your sales funnel when they see you in action.
Make Sales and Secure Deals
If your sales team regularly travels to meet clients, you can get everyone together at the trade show. Replace your regular sales trips with an on-site meeting and you’ll not only save on travel costs, you’ll generate some instant revenue too. You can set up appointments with your contacts and prospects well in advance and meet with them away from the distractions of their regular office schedule or responsibilities.
The leads you generate on a show can provide your sales team with months of work and plenty of opportunities. You’ll be exposed to a far wider market and be able to make an impression on plenty of prospects all at once.
Trendspotting and Market Research
A trade show is an ideal place to take the pulse of your industry and get a real sense of what is trending and what your prospects respond to. You also have access to valuable data, from classes to a peek at your competitor’s setups, when you attend a show in person.
Cons of Attending Trade Shows
Cost to Exhibit
Your booth is just the beginning; when you exhibit at a trade show you need to transport everything to the site, staff your booth and even pay for setup and teardown. While generating leads will help offset the expense and may make the show worth it, in the long run, it may take a few months to a few years to recoup your investment costs.
Leads May not Be Qualified
Just because someone has expressed interest on the trade show floor or even snagged a promo or two does not mean they are able to buy your product. Large shows draw big crowds and not every person you speak with is going to be a decision maker. Treat the show as a lead generation opportunity, but realize you’ll have to qualify those leads before you close a deal.
Lots of Competition
You won’t be the only company showing off wares at the event – and it may be tough to stand out from the crowd. Make sure you highlight the things that make your brand unique and that you head to the show with a plan to stand out.
The Bottom Line
The best way to get the most from your trade show experience is to carefully consider your goals ahead of time. Some of the greatest “Pros” of attending a show include the ability to generate buzz and to connect with new audiences. If you have an idea in mind ahead of time and a plan for lead capture, you’ll be able to clearly track your success and ensure you get the best possible return on your investment.