Are all these tipsters helping the exhibitor or actually hindering their trade show success?
Saving money is the easy part: fly coach class and book early with as many stop overs as possible, take the cheapest room within an hour walk of the show (no taxis allowed), rent the least expensive booth from the show contractor and Velcro some of your brochures to the back-wall.
Let’s face it, there is a reason we exhibit at trade shows and other face-to-face marketing events. We go to showcase our products, services and make an impact with potential clients. We all have to be fiscally responsible and look good in front of our bosses, but your image should not be sacrificed. We are constantly faced with the challenge of educating our clients on what a proper exhibit and successful exhibit program actually cost, as we are presented with totally unrealistic budgets to match their lofty goals. The problem exists due to the lack of education in the industry, and it is our job as exhibit builders to fill in the missing information.
We try and explain it like this. You wouldn’t go to the cheapest staging company you can find when you go to sell your house, it sort of defeats the purpose of raising your image to prospective buyers. You wouldn’t go to a vacation agency without an expectation of the location and type of trip you want. You cannot simply ask for the cheapest vacation available, as you won’t get the 5 star hotel on the beach, but a dumpy motel at the side of a highway. You have to understand what things cost to achieve the goals you want.
Now let’s spend more money – sensibly – and plan a trade show strategy with an ROI objective and set quantifiable sales-related objectives for every show and consistently measure them.
Here are some sample questions to ask yourself:
- Is our brand identifiable and is our corporate message clear?
- Is our marketing material current?
- What pre-show plan is in place (mailers, invitations, booth contest etc)?
- Who are we sending to staff the booth, are they the best, the most knowledgeable and have the training to engage with strangers?
- Is the show right for us? Ask the show organiser for an audit of previous shows
- How many shows should we exhibit in yearly
- Have you shared your Tradeshow program with your exhibit company?
- Are we in the right location at the show?
- Did we identify our competition at the show and their location?
- Have we established a staff, show schedule and lead management system?
Once these type of questions have been answered it’s time to move on and build your temporary corporate environment for the trade show. But first you have to go upstairs and establish a budget, a budget that you will later share with your selected exhibit companies.
The trade show exhibit industry has per square foot guidelines, most exhibit companies will share this information with you, e.g. Portable displays $30 -$40 psf. Modular/Hybrid $75 – $150 psf. Custom $150 – $200 psf.
These guidelines can be useful but I suggest another method to determine your budget that is to base the budget on your sales objectives at the show. You may set a target of 200 qualified leads; you know 20% will buy within the next 6 months and the profitability on those 40 sales is? You can now use this work back rule and also check with the industry square foot price. Now you have set your ROI objective.
On to the build:
Simply put you need to look your best, not chinsy (urban dictionary) your booth will be your business home for a few days; it’s a place to impress and be proud to represent your company.
Designing and building your booth isn’t more difficult than buying a car, once you establish your requirements, must haves and options, then consider functionality.
Don’t forget to give your selected exhibit companies as much information as possible so they can design to your requirements. And last but not least budget…. Oh yes budget, that uncomfortable conversation upstairs and at your exhibit company. This is easier than ever now you have a set plan and ROI strategy
And finally consider these facts:
While most people are aware the current economy has caused the number of tradeshow attendees to decrease, the good news is that the quality of the attendees is up, and the shows are still effective. More upper management and decision makers are going to trade shows, which make it even more important for companies to plan their exhibit program with a measurable strategy.
On average, eight out of 10 exhibition attendees have buying influence, with 37% having the final say in the purchasing decision. And, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), more than half are planning a purchase in the next 12 months. Best of all, these potential customers aren’t waiting for a sales rep to call. They’re coming to the doorstep of every tradeshow booth.
Often, trade shows are hyped as the ultimate b2b marketing component and sales mechanism without any data to support it, so here are a few key statistics and facts to help:
83% of the attendees have some kind of buying power
85% of decision makers say attending trade shows saves their company time and money by bringing vendors together under one roof
79% of the attendees say that attending shows helps them decide on what products to buy
91% of attendees say that trade shows impact their buying decisions because the competition is in one place allowing for comparison shopping in real time
85% of an exhibitor’s success lies in the performance of the staff
People to people medium where the quality of communication is critical, ineffective staffing equals ineffective exhibiting
Trade shows cost 38% less than sales calls
Trade show visitors will tell 6+ people about their experience
81% testify that trade shows help attendees become aware of new products and services
Trade shows are the #1 business-to-business marketing spend to support sales beating out specialty publications, internet, promotions, and PR respectively
91% of attendees tell us they get the most useful buying info from trade shows and events2
Center for Exhibition Industry Research, www.ceir.org
EXHIBITOR magazine, http://www.exhibitoronline.com/exhibitormagazine
American Business Media, http://www.americanbusinessmedia.com/abm/Default.asp
Market Reality eSurvey
If you need help establishing your exhibit budget or planning your exhibit strategy – give Ballance Display a call!