7 Spot On Trade Show Marketing Myths

Myths are everywhere – from mythical creatures like unicorns or mermaids, lightning never strikes in the same place twice, dogs’ mouths are cleaner than our mouths – but that’s not they type of myths were talking about. Today we’re debunking a few of the most common trade show marketing myths, with a few compelling stats to back them up. Brace yourself, because it’s about to get real. 

Myth #1:
IF YOU’VE BEEN TO ONE TRADE SHOW, YOU’VE BEEN TO THEM ALL
If you agree with this statement, then your trade show marketing efforts are already in jeopardy. You’re success at a trade show has everything to do with the ability to reach the target audience interested in what you have to offer. And unfortunately if you don’t know where to reach them, it’s highly likely you aren’t getting much by attending. In your early planning process, look over the attendee and exhibitor data for any shows you’re considering attending to find out whether that show is the right one to market your brand.

84% of exhibitors say “High quality of attendees” is the most important factor when deciding whether to exhibit or expand booth size. Also, 54% say “favorable return-on-investment,” is an important factor when deciding to exhibit or expand booth size, while 50% consider “Positive past performance” and important factor. Source: CEIR: The Changing Environment of Exhibitions

Myth #2:
YOU DON’T PARTICIPATE AFTER HOURS
Trade shows are often held in some of the highly populated, most desirable cities in the US. However, you must resist the urge to wander around the city on your own time because this trip is all business and you don’t get leads by sightseeing.

About 50% of the largest 200 shows in the USA take place in just 3 cities: Las Vegas, Chicago, and Orlando. Source: TSNN.com, The Trade Show News Network

You’re there for one reason and one reason only: to develop relationships, build new contacts, and turn those contacts into customers. And every activity you undertake while there should support this goal. Attending after-hours trade show events offer a huge opportunity to network and get your name out there, but keep in mind you’re representing your company and your approach to these events should always remain professional. Consider passing on that second glass of beer or wine so you’re able to listen carefully to hear the sound of opportunity knocking.

Myth #3:
THERE’S NOTHING SPECIAL ABOUT TRADE SHOW MARKETING
Many companies only consider the physical aspect of attending a trade show: setting up a booth, displaying some marketing collateral and showing a few samples of your products. This is the wrong approach. Start by understanding why you’re attending trade shows in the first place and who you’re marketing to.

45% of attendees visit only one exhibition per year. So when you exhibit at a show you will find unique prospects there you can’t reach at other trade shows. Source: CEIR Report ACRR 1152.12

You can’t just show up, stand in your booth and hand out brochures to everyone passing by. The whole point of a trade show is to engage with attendees, capture leads, and if you’ve prepared you might even meet with new prospects eager to hear more about what you have to offer. The success of your marketing efforts at any trade show takes proper planning well before the show.

Myth #4:
ANYONE CAN STAFF A BOOTH
Sending Sandy from accounting or Bob from human resources to staff your booth at a trade show might not be the best idea. Booth staffers should be energetic and excited to tell everyone about your company, products or services. To ensure you’ve chosen effective trade show booth staffers, they should be well-trained in what your goals are for each and every show. There’s nothing worse than investing time and money in a booth, incurring shipping and travel expenses, only to have your booth staff standing around and not engaging with attendees walking by.

Myth #5:
TRADE SHOWS ARE A WASTE OF TIME
Of course if you’ve been unsuccessful at trade shows in the past you may feel they are a waste of time or that they take you away from more important business at the office. Consider these stats for a moment:

According to a recent survey, more than 75% of tradeshow attendees ask for quotes at the show, more than 22% are likely to sign an agreement with an intent to order AND 99% of marketers said they found unique value from trade shows they did not get from other marketing mediums.

Does that sound like a waste of time to you? You must always remember the outcome, whether positive or negative, has a direct correlation to the effort you put in. If you approach a show as a positive opportunity, you are more likely to get those positive results and continue reaping the benefits weeks and months after.

Myth #6:
TRADE SHOW LEADS ARE A WASTE OF TIME
We get it, leads can seem like a waste of time if: a) You ask attendees to drop their business card in a bowl to enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card, b) You’re not taking notes when talking to potential customers so you can send them more information after the show, or c) You wait until a month or two after the show to contact leads. Lead quality is a direct byproduct of your pre-show planning, proper booth staff training and timely post-show followup.

The #1 reason for attending (not exhibiting) trade shows is to see new products. 92% of trade show attendees say they are looking for new products. It has been the number one reason to attend for 25 years! So trade shows are a great place to introduce or feature your newest products. Source: CEIR: The Role and Value of Face to Face

Trade shows offer a captive audience interested in your products or services. It would be a rare instance if you acquired a new lead while grabbing a cup of coffee, walking to the bathroom or chatting it up with co-workers. Lead generating takes time and a lot of patience. You have to be at the top of your game, because right after you hooked that lead they can (and will) walk down the aisle and fall right into your competitors arms.

Myth #7
SMALLER BRANDS DON’T STAND OUT AT LARGE TRADE SHOWS
You’ve heard the saying “small fish, big pond” but when it comes to trade shows, it’s every man for himself – small business or big brand. Small businesses simply need to be more strategic in their trade show marketing and when choosing the shows they attend. If budget is an issue, consider more targeted shows or smaller regional shows for now. Later on down the road, as your business grows so will your trade show budget. The opportunity to exhibit in the larger shows can be something to look forward to in the future and compete with the big guys at an even level.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Trade shows are an important aspect to your marketing strategy offering the opportunity to network with other people in your industry, form new relationships with potential clients and promote your business in a completely different way. Trade shows should simply be a way of life because it has the potential to be the lifeblood of your business.