The degree to which trade show participation is mismanaged and misunderstood boggles the mind. But, in all fairness, tracking opportunities from leads to customers was very difficult without modern day technology. We knew trade shows were important (they are), but relied heavily on gut feelings, what we did in the past, what our competitors were doing and input from the sales team to determine what was effective and what wasn't.
This is where many trade show myths developed. But those days are over. It's time to debunk the myths and help you to develop strategies that deliver a positive return on investment (ROI) and that you can optimize over time. We've covered three myths in "All It Takes Is One" and Other Trade Show Myths: the "all it takes is one" myth, the booth location myth and the trade shows are not for selling myth. Time to debunk four more.
Myth #4: It Doesn't Matter Who Staffs the Booth, It just Needs Warm Bodies
This makes no sense, yet it happens all too frequently. The whole point of investing tIme and money into an eye-catching display is to attract attention, pique interest and to get attendees to stop at your booth. However, your trade show success largely depends on the effectiveness of your booth staff. Who you put there matters. A lot.
Trade show attendee composition is the biggest factor for determining who should staff your booth. For instance, if the show is in California and show attendees are nearly exclusively from the West Coast, it makes no sense to send your East Coast sales managers. They'll lose effectiveness by not being from the local surroundings. If attendees are technical people (scientists, engineers or other technical professionals), you'll need technical experts in your booth who can converse on the relevant topics. If the show is attended by executives, key members of your executive management team need to be in your booth.
Finally, if you expect high levels of traffic in your booth, consider including a booth greeter. This person can make introductions and facilitate meeting schedules. This person shouldn't be a salesperson, executive or technical expert. Rather, this person needs to be congenial, social, and diplomatic. A people person.
Myth #5: Trade Shows Are a Necessary Investment, Don't Expect a Positive ROI
Just like any marketing investment, trade show participation must be scrutinized for ROI effectiveness. No company, big or small, can afford to spend marketing funds on activities that don't generate growth. A positive ROI is a must.
There are many marketing and sales professionals who believe a positive ROI shouldn't be expected from a trade show. This usually stems from not knowing how to measure trade show ROI or from a lack of strategic trade show planning.
Both are easily remedied. Start with our in-depth post on this topic:
Myth #6: A Busy Trade Show Is a Good Trade Show
In most cases, booth traffic is used as a metric for measuring trade show success. This is a mistake. There are many ways to attract unproductive traffic: a giveaway, entertainment, a chatty staff. All of these may bring unqualified leads to your booth. You're staff may seem busy, but it isn't with people who will help grow your business.
If your trade show strategy requires a lot of booth traffic, you'll need to do some careful planning. For instance, if your trade show goal is to generate 400 completes for an industry survey, you'll need to staff your booth with people who can talk to and manage the survey participants. This frees your sales, executive and technical staff to have meaningful customer conversations. Everyone has a part to play and everyone knows the plan.
Myth #7: A Big Booth Is Required for Success
Size isn't everything! It used to be a big, two-story booth with an upstairs meeting room, plush carpet and comfortable couches was the badge of corporate success. This is no longer the case. Many companies choose smaller booths, focusing on quality rather than quantity. They experiment with different events, larger pre-show promotion budgets or investing in off the show floor opportunities. The ultimate goal is effectiveness. Sometimes that happens in a large elaborate booth, sometimes it happens in a small kiosk.
The true debunker of trade show myths is data. In today's technology-driven world, it's possible - and practical - to measure staff impact, ROI results, traffic levels, and booth design. Data is the fuel you need for effective trade show planning. So enjoy the myths, but don't let them play into your strategic plan.
Do any of these myths resonate with you? Have you had to debunk any of your own? We want to hear your experiences in the Comments below. If you need help with trade show planning, budgeting or booth design, contact us at 888-777-0223or visit our website: www.aceexhibits.com. Our experts are always happy to help.