Should you exhibit at a trade show or stay away?

This question pops up regularly during my open seminars. I have a simple answer based on something I originally recommended when I looked after a marketing group for BT many years ago.

Choose ten current customers you value and ask the purchasing decision-makers which trade shows they plan to visit. If you want to evaluate a particular trade show then ask about that specifically. If half or more plan to visit a show then so will your competitors’ decision-makers. (Herd behaviour) If not, think twice before you book that show. This simple test identifies worthwhile events and cuts out trade shows that waste your time and money.

But you need to do more.

When you exhibit, give prospective customers a compelling reason to visit your stand. There’s only one certain way to do that. Your primary stand message, big and bold, must communicate the most significant way that prospect will gain directly or indirectly as a result of what you sell.

Make the message specific and support it with a testimonial. For example, an accountancy firm has an irresistible stand message that claims ‘Reduce your tax liability and release funds to invest in growth’. A machine tool supplier has a stand message that claims ‘Increase production output with lower costs’. A language translation service that claims ’Sell into rich overseas markets safely’.

Struggling for a message? Check out your current valued customers to understand how you help them achieve important outcomes. Then tell the world!

I am constantly amazed by the lack of effective ‘prospect pulling’ messages on trade stands. Even global businesses fail. It’s such a waste.

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