Mike Duseberg is the founder of TradeShowFunnel.com. Dedicated to helping exhibitors connect with more qualified prospects, Mike is fascinated by measurable, accountable and profitable trade show marketing.
Are You Exhibiting or Prospecting?
A lot of people are genuinely “exhibiting.” They have a product and it’s on display. Look at it. See it’s brilliant innovation. See what our company has done to advance the industry’s technology a light year ahead. The future is here: look at it. And when you’ve seen enough of the future, you may continue on to the rest of the trade show.
That’s exhibiting. The ultimate goal is showing off your stuff. It’s an expensive goal to achieve – most 20 x 20 booths will spend at least $175,000 (including booth construction) to get people to look at their stuff.
Businesses understand, however, that simply getting people to look at your product or service isn’t enough. Companies aren’t valued according to how many people know about their brand or how many people look at their advertising material. Companies are valued according to how much revenue and profit they generate. This is why trade show budgets get cut, and why many Vice Presidents of Sales think that trade show exhibiting is a waste of time.
If the booth isn’t designed to create a crowd of interested prospects, connect ideal prospects to the booth staff and collect their contact information, there isn’t really much to show for the money they’ve invested. Whether you follow zero-based budgeting, Six Sigma, or any other management strategy, you know that anything that does not accomplish a measurable goal eventually gets cut.
There’s a better strategy. Rather than simply exhibiting, the best trade show booths are designed for prospecting.
Prospecting is the start of a sales sequence or funnel. New prospects are identified and brought into contact with the company, and current or inactive clients are reactivated and entered into new sales funnels.
There’s no better place for prospecting than a trade show. Thousands of people with a common connection point have been brought into a huge room. You know what the common point of connection is, you know they all have a common pain point that your product or service addresses, so it’s easy to craft a concise message that explains how your company will make that pain go away.
The point of a prospecting trade show booth is to be a “processing station.” Your goal is to bring as many people to the booth as possible, and tell them what your product or service will do for them. If they’re interested, they will leave their contact information and request a follow up. If not, they’ll continue down the aisle.
This system allows your company to quickly and efficiently identify your best clients from the massive crowds of 50,000 or more attendees at a large trade show.
Using a prospecting system, you and your team can even evaluate the show’s success on a cost per lead basis, identifying how much each lead cost your company and comparing that cost to the total lifetime value of a new customer. If you sell a $5000 product that your clients buy annually, paying $175 each for 1000 new prospects is a pretty good deal.
Isn’t it incredible what a simple change in your trade show strategy can do? The simple step converts your trade show exhibit (and you yourself by extension) from an “expense” to a “revenue generator.”
Next time someone tells you trade show exhibiting is expensive, you can tell them they’re absolutely right. But then remind them that proper trade show prospecting is surprisingly efficient.