There was a time when only specific industries such as healthcare convened regularly to update themselves about advancements and improvements in their field. Today, such conventions have become more commonplace for all types of industries. It is not uncommon for a group of like-minded people from fashion, furniture, or technology to come together at tradeshows, conventions, fairs, etc. for a mutual intellectual and product exchange. The success of this form of interaction has led to the rise of a new form of marketing, called exhibit marketing.
It is not only about selling a booth space – It is about marketing your products and services at expositions, trade fairs, conferences and conventions. A plan may have direct sales or non-direct sales related goals. Some of the common goals include:
- Showcase achievements, products, services and build business opportunities
- Establish new contacts and acquire more orders from existing customer base
- Generate new sales leads
- Create product, company and brand awareness aimed at target audience and industry partners
- Improve public relations by fostering partnerships, entrepreneurial opportunities and assessing competition
- Acquire and improve industry knowledge
Types of exhibit marketing
Largely, there are three types of exhibit marketing:
- Retail shows – Retail shows have a strong sales goal tied to it. Their primary focus is to sell products or services. The success of a retail show is measured by number of deals closed or products sold directly at the exhibit booth.
- B2B shows – Business-to-business shows focus on networking opportunities with industry partners that can be strengthened after the show. It also focuses on learning about competitors. B2B shows are also fertile grounds for finding partner agencies.
- Event marketing – Event marketing is targeted towards delivering a specific message or creating brand awareness. A marketing event can be set up directly at an exhibit. For example, in one show, the exhibitors were building a sand castle that related to one of their products offered. Visitors kept visiting the booth repeatedly to check on the progress of the castle, each time creating an opportunity for the marketers to market something new.
Exhibit Marketing Training – Why you need it?
Exhibit marketing operations start and finish within a certain time period. Thus, marketers are under the pressure of achieving their exhibit goals in a very constrained time frame – may be hours, days or weeks. It is for this reason that exhibit marketers are looking for individuals with the right skillset and experience to achieve these marketing goals. Some of the key considerations for recruiting a staff include:
- Audience interests: The marketing team personnel should be aligned with audience interests.
- Location of the show – The team must speak the regional language if the expected audience is local.
- Sales skills – Especially if it is a retail show.
- Technical skills – For technical emergencies arising before and during the show
A pre show training is essential to ensure everyone is on the same page. Knowing the product specifics and floor-selling techniques is a must to close a good bargain.
Return on Investment
The return on investment of your exhibit marketing plan may be deeply affected by a weak exhibit, untrained personnel, and ineffective sales pitch. Research has shown that visitors only remember 15% of companies they visit at a trade show. This puts a lot of pressure to enter and stay in the brain-space of your buyer. You have to give your audience something to remember you by!
A well-defined budget with clear goals will obviously give you a clear idea of your return on investment. In case of a retail show, it is easy to calculate the ROI as you can simply compare expenses with revenue generated through sales or closed deals.
In shows where the chief aim is prospecting or creating brand awareness, the ROI may not have direct quantifiable results. In many cases, the ROI is calculated by the opportunity cost of not exhibiting at the event.
Using an Exhibit Consulting firm
Usually a large number of people managing the exhibits are first-timers (e.g. business owners) i.e. people setting trade show booth for the first time. The other group is part-timers (e.g. sales or brand managers) i.e. people who do this as a function of their larger job. The third group is full-timers (exhibit marketers) i.e. people who consider themselves professionals in the field. An exhibit consulting firm falls in the third category. They have considerable expertise and experience in the field. They are equipped with the tools and know-how to help you set up a successful trade show.
Exhibit marketing is here to stay. It is in the hands of companies, big and small, to reap the best benefits of this form of marketing strategy to meet larger business goals.