Why Would I Do a Trade Show Now?

Do your annual marketing and sales plans include sending out generic newsletters and loyalty program updates to every business card or contact that you have in your possession? Do you spend a lot of time trying to get to the decision makers only to get stuck leaving messages that never get returned?

It seems our sales and marketing efforts have moved away from building relationships with our clients to relying on email, websites and on line RFP's. It's time to get back to knowing your client, having them recognize your name on a personal email or voicemail and returning your messages! One of the best ways to start building that relationship is to meet them face to face, find out what they need and ensure them that you can be relied on to make things happen the way you say they will. One of the most cost effective venues to start nurturing those relationships is at a trade show.

Participating supplier and attendee talk

Before I even talk about the trade show I would like you to check your last expense report to see the total expenditure of your last road trip. To that number, don’t forget to add your salary for the number of days you were out of the office. Then take the total and divide it by the number of clients you were able to get in to see. That number is your “cost per contact” for the trip.

Now let’s talk about a trade show; not a consumer event, but an event targeted to a specific client niche that is part of your current marketing plan.

Let’s look at the cost to attend an event like this. There is a fixed cost to register at the event. Are there any additional fees, such as power? Booth furnishings? Internet connection required? Include the cost of your accommodations for the event, transportation to/from and during, per diem expenses, shipping of materials, collateral costs and again your salary for the number of days you are out of the office. Then divide that number by the number of contacts made at the event. That number is your “cost per contact.”

At the outset, which one seems to be a better value?

Now examine your reasons for going to Trade Shows this year (there can be multiple reasons and you are going to set goals for each reason):

  1. Product awareness
  2. New product introduction
  3. Re-branding
  4. New staff/management
  5. Client services
  6. New business development
  7. Other (insert your reason(s) here)

Examine the trade shows you currently attend, are you there because:

  1. You have always done these shows
  2. The show brings in the clientele you want to meet with
  3. Your competition is always there
  4. Other (insert your reason(s) here)

Look at the record of the trade show itself; how long has it been in the marketplace? Does it fit into your current marketing and sales plan? Is it in your primary, secondary or tertiary market? Have you heard your peers talk about the event? What do they have to say? Does the website or show producer give you information regarding numbers, and quality of the attendees? Are there 3rd party endorsements on the website as to the type of show it is and does it answer your questions? Do the organizers of the event have industry knowledge and appreciation of what you as an exhibitor need to see to justify your attendance?

In the next article, I’ll talk about setting Trade Show goals and figuring out a reasonable number for leads. I hope you take the time to review your expense report, and compare it to one of your trade show files to get your "cost per contact" calculated!

Written by Lisa Marin
Lisa Marin

Lisa has been organizing trade and consumer programs for the Canadian Travel Industry for almost 30 years. She has also worked in Sales & Marketing within the industry for both Hotels and Resorts.

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