Recently we’ve been approached by several tradeshow organizers to review, upgrade, or revamp their marketing efforts, for a variety of reasons. With all the visibility and power perceived by marketers who use social media, often tradeshows get put on a back burner. Often there are misconceptions about the cost, value and ROI of exhibiting in a tradeshow, and those impressions are what the organizer is fighting when they try to attract new exhibitors, or build attendance. There are other aspects of working tradeshows into your marketing plan that are misunderstood or poorly perceived that present challenges to the organizers.
We’ve been working with exhibitors, and organizers, to eradicate some of these misconceptions, and to maximize the value of the tradeshow marketing channel as a viable means of penetrating a new market, launching a new product, or raising awareness of a new application to a new vertical.
When we work with organizers, its often to open up the shows to include new markets, to add new exhibitors and expand the show, or shift it’s focus. This involves building a strong marketing platform, and a focused sales effort, working in tandem, to approach new exhibitors with a fresh angle or a new spin to show them the value of the show to their sales efforts. Creating a solid prospectus that tells the story accurately and gives the exhibitor a feeling of confidence that the organizer speaks their language, that he understands their market, and that they are competent to make their experience a good, profitable one, is one of the first steps. As always, there’s a lot of research involved in creating that element, to gather data on the buying audience, demographics of the attendees, the market as a whole. Once that trust is established, then it’s a matter of making contact with the correct individual to work through their issues, concerns and needs to prove to them that the organizer will be with them every step of the way.
When we work with exhibitors, it’s usually to help the exhibiting company break into a new vertical market and to make an impact, to raise awareness of their firm within the industry at large. In those cases, its a matter of getting the attention of the audience, and even of the other exhibitors, be they partners or competitors. Sometimes it’s not just a matter of buying a sizable piece of real estate and designing a flashy display. We’ve worked with some companies where it was appropriate to do exactly the opposite – purchase the minimum size space, install a low-key display, but participate heavily in other parts of the overall marketing opportunity, like sponsorships of events, banners in the halls, kiosks, hospitality suites, press conferences and publication ads in directories, maps and schedules. These kinds of activities require lower levels of human resources, help present a unified and ubiquitous-appearing presence, while not spending on expensive floor space and having to furnish it with a large staff and display.
No matter who we’re working with, it all starts with research and planning to maximize the opportunity presented by the show. Solid planning and a knowledge of the audience can make even a marginal show a resounding success, generating revenue, growth and partnership opportunities, and helping markets expand and driving commerce. If you work in the tradeshow space, let me know what challenges you’re facing – we’d love to hear from you.