How to select the RIGHT exhibition for your business?
Most of the time, business owners select a trade-show because everyone they know exhibits there. While this may work in some cases--often they don't see any "concrete benefit" emerging from their participation. Our journalists initiated research on this topic: how to figure out which is the right trade-show for your business, and this is what they came up with...
1. Forget your competitors. Focus on your customers.
Simply put, you don't need to follow your competitors everywhere they go. You should ask your customers which shows they go to, and check which shows are actively pursuing them, and exhibit there. In fact, many-a-times being one of the first to exhibit at trade-shows which have not been noticed by the competition has led many firms to experience exponential growth.
2. Good shows generate a minimum of 50 to 100 interactions with new prospective customers.
That's the basic thumb-rule. Forget brand awareness. Forget publicity. Forget top-of-the-mind recall. All that's secondary. What's critical is this--did your team get to meet 50 to 100 right contacts of firms that could be your prospective customers (for high-value segments this number could be 20 to 30). If not, that's not the 'right' exhibition for you.
3. Good trade-shows get you to interact with out-station customers.
This one adds to #2. Every out-station prospect met is equivalent to meeting 2 to 3 local prospects, in terms of RoI. Hence, check out the marketing plans of the organiser of the trade-show. Speak to your own customers. See, if you can expect prospects from other cities.
4. Good trade-shows get you to interact with the real decision makers and decision influencers.
A lot of exhibitors complain that while they meet representatives of the firms they want to target, but the people they meet are not the real decision makers or influencers. This is especially true for B2B trade-shows related to technical topics. Here, it's the technical personnel who calls the shots, but often the purchase teams visit the trade shows. While your brochures and business cards get collected, you never get to meet the right person, after the show.
5. Good trade-shows have tools to enable your prospects to find you.
This is critical--especially with large shows. Many organisers aren't good at providing tools to trade visitors to find the exhibitors they seek. These tools may include Show Guides, Web Search, Mobile Apps, May I Help You Desks, etc.
And, when organisers do provide, exhibitors miss showing up on them. When our journalists spoke to many of the trade visitors--their repeated complain was they did not find all the firms for the solution they sought on such tools, even though they were exhibiting there. And, when we spoke to the organisers, they shared that while all exhibitors provide their basic organisation profile and contact details, they often miss out on categorising their booth, sharing offers and highlights, new products launched, etc
6. BONUS: Good shows generate interactions with existing clients too.
This should ONLY be the bonus parameter. Many of the exhibitors feel happy at the end of a trade-show because they have met many of their existing customers. And, when they sit down for their Return-on-investment analysis, their happiness turns to despair. Either, you invest in a trade-show with the mind-set to calculate RoI in terms of meeting old and existing clients OR as a new business development initiative. What's unfair for the trade-show is when you invest for meeting old and existing customers, and calculate RoI based on new prospects met.
While our journalists spoke to exhibitors and delegates from primarily electronics, IT and IOT industry, we believe many of these principles will apply to other trade-shows too.
CAUTION: Even if you select the RIGHT exhibition for your business, you might not get the best Return-on-Investment if you have not used the ‘right strategies to generate quality leads’