Trade exhibits at conferences offer a deeply hands on and uniquely personal format for selling, buying and interaction between customers and sellers.
I mean this literally; there simply isn’t any typical situation in which suppliers can personally display what they’re offering to so many different people whose very business is related to exactly what these sellers are offering, and all in one single large space!
The same goes for the buyers: instead of browsing impersonal advertising or reviews online or shopping around to numerous physically separated stores, they can simply walk down a series of booths and ask all the questions they want while touching the product and tinkering with the services offered.
It’s the ultimate in “kicking the tires” before buying, and this is why trade exhibiting is such a great benefit to both sides of the market spectrum.
That said, we need to weigh in with some more details on exactly why both sellers and conference attendees/possible customers benefit from this uniquely arranged sales system, and also examine some of the costs and benefits for both.
But, wait. What does this have to do with web developers, designers and other web professionals?
Benefits and Costs to Web Products and Services Sellers
Sellers that enter trade exhibits and set up their kiosks can benefit enormously from the strategy. This may not apply across the board in all cases, but picking a conference that heavily leans towards your niche and signing up to attend can be a serious boost to sales and advertising technique.
Web developers and designers are among the first to concede that they derive great benefit from attending conferences. It’s where new techniques are revealed, industry trends are set and practitioners who barely get out of the office get the chance to catch up with each other. Many such conferences have trade exhibits attached.
But you should also consider conferences focused more on your prospective customers. If there’s a conference or convention that brings hundreds of people in a specific line of business into your town – and that line includes people you regard as prospective customers – it make sense to take the opportunity to pitch your products and services to them.
What better place to promote your brand new app that aggregates historical real estate sales results to deliver realistic forecasts for property prices than a conference of real estate agents?
Let’s talk about the costs and benefits.
Although typical costs for setting up a kiosk, paying the registration fees, advertising, travel and floor space rental can vary, you will almost certainly be spending a fairly large chunk of change. In terms of lead costs, simply identifying a lead can average $96 per head and closing a single sale can run a cost of up to $2000, averaged out. Overall, for a 20’x20’ piece of trade exhibit space, your total costs including everything can run from $8,000 at the lower end to roughly $25,000-$30,000 at the higher end.
Yes, it’s true, these are not budget figures that you or any seller should take lightly, especially when compared to some much cheaper forms of advertising, but the benefits still outweigh the costs.
Think of the cost for a single TV advertising spot, or a month’s worth of bidding for highly competitive PPC keywords in a program like Adwords. Both of these will easily cost you as much or more than attending a one to three day trade show exhibit, and yet neither ever lets you come into real contact with a single potential customer.
On the other hand, by getting motivated to really sell, getting creative with fully interactive sales presentations, customer service and full technological innovation, you can make your trade exhibit a heavy duty daily meeting point with dozens or even hundreds of potential buyers that are shopping right within your business niche; all of them, right there under the same roof. In achieving this, you can personally speak to them, build relationships and convincingly show exactly why your products and services are what they need to buy or subscribe to.
Pushing for long term client relationships and large-scale orders –something that the personal contact at trade shows is especially fertile for—can increase your revenues per lead enormously, giving you far more bang for your seemingly expensive dollars spent.
In addition, the hands on training that trade shows will give to your sales staff are unbeatable. Simply put, a group of sales personnel who learn to convince customers through the trial by fire that is one-on-one in-person marketing will quickly pick up a lot of skills they can take away and apply to all of your more conventional marketing and sales techniques.
Some Value Maximization Tips
Revenue gained from a trade show can be as variable as the costs, and the key to maximizing it lies in being strategic. When setting up your kiosk, you need to keep its layout in mind as well as understand its position relative to the entire conference floor layout.
The bottom line should consist of channeling visitors to your booth so that they are engaged with your staff and exhibits from the moment they approach. This means knowing what that physical approach point will be and focusing on it.
Furthermore, for maximum sales, you need to find ways of first grabbing your customers’ attention and then maintaining it through full engagement. To do the first, you have roughly 3 to 5 seconds by industry average. To do the second, more time is available but you need to strategize on moving things forward constantly.
Focus on simple clear messages, use plenty of graphics and get down to explaining exactly how you can help your customers as quickly as possible. Once you’ve been through this process and have your lead’s attention, you can focus more on their own questions and more detailed product discussion.
Finally, you’re a web based seller selling to web professionals. Take advantage of this by giving them a full menu of connectivity options right at your booth. Make sure that they can easily and quickly link to your online presence in the form of social media, email subscription and visiting your website. Also, give them the tools to do this on the spot with Wi Fi access and on the spot digital demonstrations of your products and services.
A Few Benefits to Trade Show Attendees
If you’re a trade exhibit attendee, or thinking of becoming one sometime soon, the benefits of sales conferences extend to you even more than they do to sellers. For one thing, your costs of attending are much lower while your possible gains are nearly limitless if you’re really searching for an online service or product solution to your professional needs.
In other words, going to a trade show and seriously examining what’s being offered can mean pure profit for your plans or your own business needs.
Sure, you’ll also be dealing with certain travel costs – especially if said trade show is in another city — but you’ll be really hard pressed to find a more interactive and information rich opportunity to really examine all the potential product and service solutions to your professional needs.
Whether it’s new software you need, new hardware you’re after or you want to hunt down a service solution that will make your own business easier to run, trade shows are where you can really look at all the angles of what your potential providers are offering. It’s definitely possible that some of these angles can land you a purchase that literally saves you thousands of dollars in professional costs or creates a whole new stream of benefits for your own projects.