Companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year on trade show presence. The opportunity for face-to-face time with prospective customers alone is reason enough to send the sales and business development teams who are looking to close deals. But there are plenty of reasons to also send members of a marketing team—and not just for booth set-up!
Here are 5 reasons it’s in your marketing team’s best interests to be at industry trade shows.
1. Identify with the Audience
Going to meetings allows marketers to interact directly with the people they market to. On a flight to a recent show, I had the opportunity to sit next to researchers who were going to the conference to present posters and learn about what’s “new.”
When I later ran into them on the show floor (and the women’s restroom), we had the opportunity to continue our conversation. These opportunities are valuable because they present an opportunity to think of researchers as people rather than abstract personas we market to.
2. Scope out the Competition
Walking through the exhibit hall, you get the chance to see what competitors are doing first-hand. What are the trends in booth design? What are the most popular giveaways and who is getting the most booth traffic? All of this “field research” will help a marketer get a leg up on the competition.
3. Learn from Customers
Another important aspect of trade show attendance is to engage with existing customers. You can learn so many valuable insights by talking with the people who already buy your products and services, including which publications they read, where they have seen your company advertised, which of your content they have read, which sponsored webinars have been most interesting, and what marketing tactics they tend to ignore.
4. Make Valuable Connections
Use trade shows as a convenient excuse to meet with prospective customers in your network. Ask them what shows they’re attending and let them know you’ll be there, too. People are often happy to arrange a meeting or stop by your booth.
You can also use conferences as a time to introduce people to one another—introduce one of your experts to members of the trade media, or an attendee to your scientific product manager. If you can be a gatekeeper to other important folks in the marketplace, you will earn respect and trust from prospective business partners.
5. Arrange Meetings with Vendors
A conference provides a great place to meet with ad reps or other service providers, as well as learn about new offerings in person without needing a representative to fly out and meet you. Meet over coffee and find out what they can do to help you.