Trade shows are expensive and time-consuming. (Duh.) Pick the wrong one and you’ve wasted several thousand dollars of your marketing budget. Pick the right one and you’ll leave with several qualified leads…and maybe even a few customers.
How is a tech marketer supposed to distinguish between the winners and the losers? Funny you should ask…we have some tips. Keep reading.
Ask Your Customers
The events your future customers are attending are probably the same as the events your current customers are attending. So…have you asked your favorite clients which trade shows they go to every year?
Use this info to enhance the demographic data found in the event’s own prospectus. A li’l old fashioned research in the form of a phone call or email might give you some unexpected ideas.
Bonus tip: Bolstering relationships with existing clients can be just as valuable as getting new leads. If you go to the events that your current customers attend, you’ll have a chance to schmooze them in person and bond outside of the office.
Stalk Your Competitors
Where are your competitors exhibiting? Their social media account will tell you! Check out their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn feeds to see where they’ve gone the past couple years. Bonus points if they’ve attended the same event more than once, since it must have been good the first time around.
Interview Past Exhibitors
If you can find the floor plan from last year’s event, call up a small handful of the vendors who exhibited last year and ask how their experience was. Did they feel it was worth the investment? Are they exhibiting again? What is one thing they would have known going in? Their pain might be your gain.
Don’t Blow The Budget
On everyone’s guilty pleasure TV show, “Say Yes to the Dress,” they advise brides to never try on a dress that’s more than their budget. The same thing applies with trade shows. Unless you’re a multi-million dollar company, odds are you can’t afford to exhibit at Dreamforce, where booths start at $65K. How much can you afford? Break out your calculator. If you know your average deal size and your average conversion rate, you can figure out how many people you need to connect with to show a positive ROI.
For example, if 10% of leads become customers and your average deal size is $5,000, then you’d need to get 100 leads to recoup a trade show expense totaling $50,000. Sound like a lot? If it’s for a one-day event with a total attendance of 350 people, that’s not so good. But if it’s a three-day affair with 7,500 people walking the floor, then you’re talking.
Aim to Maximize Exposure
Sponsorship is good. Exhibiting is better. Speaking is the best. Have an opportunity to do all three? Well, then you’ve got the perfect trade show trifecta! Look for events that will allow you to maximize your exposure by splashing your logo all over promotional materials and then speaking on stage to drive people back to your booth.
Attend in Advance
If you are planning a year ahead, try to attend events first before plunking down cash to sponsor or exhibit. It’s much cheaper to do some reconnaissance as an attendee vs. buying an exhibit space and realizing the crowd isn’t really interacting with the vendors.
Moral of this story? Human-to-human interaction isn't dead quite yet and trade shows remain a tech company's best source of leads! To learn how you can make the most out of your trade show strategy, check out our “The B2B Sales Enablement Guide for Your Next Tech Trade Show”.
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