What Are the Benefits of Trade Shows?

In the past, you’ve toyed with the idea of buying space at a trade show and sending your team to represent your brand, but you’ve never moved forward with the idea. Now, you’re wondering if your presence at a trade show might be the perfect way to grow your business. Read on to find out what benefits you can expect from exhibiting at a trade show and some ways to maximize your investment.

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What Is a Trade Show?

Imagine a convention center filled with every possible product and service in your industry. From health care to pet supplies and furniture to car parts, there are trade shows for just about every industry. Trade shows are themed exhibitions that feature many different businesses which attend to market their products or services. Trade shows usually last for a couple of days and include demonstrations, education, giveaways, and media looking for interesting new products hitting the scene.

What Are the Benefits of Trade Shows for Businesses?

No matter what industry your business is in, trade shows can be a wonderful way to boost your business.

1. Foster Existing Customer Relationships

Even as technology evolves, nothing will ever beat the power of relationship building. Trade shows allow you to shake hands and rub elbows with your existing customers, staying top of mind and learning about them outside of their business. After a while, these events may become something like a reunion, since they allow you to reconnect with people you rarely see.

2. Meet Face to Face with New Potential Customers

You’ll interact with countless people at a trade show. Having these conversations allows you to put a face to new and potential customers (and they’ll do the same with you).

While you’ll almost certainly interact with people who aren’t your ideal client or won’t have the ability to buy from you, remember to be kind and respectful. You never know who they know or where they’ll work in the future. A connection you make might take several years to pay off.

Related: How Do You Engage Customers at a Trade Show?

3. Market Directly to the People and Businesses who Need Your Product

As well as you may target your advertising and PR campaigns, you may still be reaching an unintended (and inappropriate) audience. A trade show attracts buyers who are already looking for what you sell.

Keep in mind that they are likely well versed in that type of product so your staff should be prepared to answer more in-depth questions or know how to field them to someone who can.

4. Showcase New Products

Got something new coming out? You’ve been working on this new product for years, why not make a big splash by unveiling it at a trade show? Many shows even have a special section for new products.

5. Keep an Eye on the Competition

A trade show is a great place to see what you’re up against and learn what makes your product stand out (or not). While you don’t want to copy other companies, there’s nothing wrong with doing your research and then making upgrades on your products based off what you learned.

6. Close More Sales

Many trade show attendees have the desire, the ability, and the authority to make purchases for the business they represent. They’ll often be counting on discounts and looking to do business with people they connect with.

Make sure that you have a thorough display of your products and a way to fulfill orders quickly and efficiently.

7. Build Up Your Audience or Mailing List

Not everyone is ready to buy when they walk through the doors of a trade show. Sometimes, attendees are “feelers” for the company who will take the information they’ve gathered back to the employees with purchasing power. By creating a lead capture at the trade show, you have the ability to email them or contact them at a future date with new products, offers, discounts, etc.

A lead capture can include a free giveaway, a game where they can win prizes, useful information that will help them in their business, a free service like headshots or assistance with their social media profiles, and much more.

8. Establish Your Brand in the Marketplace

Competing against big names in your industry can leave the small, new businesses struggling for attention. A booth at a trade show puts you in front of the people you want to be in front of and gives you the opportunity to dazzle them with your products, service, and personality.

In order to draw as much (positive) attention to your booth as possible, you’ll want to make sure that your booth is clean, neat, bright, and includes helpful and attractive signage. A little planning and a small investment will go a long way to attracting the right people to your area.

Related: How Do I Promote My Business at a Trade Show?

9. Meet New Suppliers

Buyers aren’t the only people walking around trade shows. You’ll also encounter the businesses who make the materials you need to create your products. This provides the opportunity to strengthen relationships with your existing suppliers and build relationships with new potential suppliers. You may save some money, find better raw materials, or just meet someone with whom you’ll have a better rapport.

10. Sell Excess Inventory

Perhaps you’ve got a new product coming out and you need to clear your warehouse to make room. Or, maybe you just produced way too many of something. Either way, trade show attendees are looking for great deals and if you’re willing to part with your products on a “Show Special” price, you can likely close some large sales.

11. Donate to a Worthy Cause

If you don’t sell out all of your inventory, you may not want to bring it home with you. Nonprofits often have needs for what you make, and it may be easier and more cost effective to donate the product and take the tax deduction rather than shipping it home.

If you end up donating product, ask the nonprofit to send you photos (if appropriate) of your product in use with their population and then pitch it to the media for some attention and good will.

12. Have Potential Customers Try Out Your Products

Marketing materials are wonderful, but nothing beats seeing, holding, and trying out a product. Depending on what it is you make and how much it costs, you could offer demonstrations at your booth or give out samples of your products for people to try out themselves.

If you give attendees a sample to take home, make sure it’s well-labeled and provides all the information they need to contact you for purchase. You may want to extend the Show Special to a week or so after the trade show ends. This will give them time to test out the product, share the information with whoever is in charge of buying decisions, and reach out to you.

13. Learn What Your Ideal Clients Are Looking For

You’re in the business of solving problems for your customers. Trade shows low you to talk to your ideal customer, asking them what solutions they are looking for and what features are most important to them, and then creating or improving your product based on their feedback.

Make sure you keep notes during these conversations with attendees and capture their contact information. Nothing makes a customer feel more special than knowing that their comments were taken into consideration. So, make sure you let them know!

14. Find New Employees

Trade shows are filled with seasoned industry employees as well as some of the best and brightest new talent. While you may not be looking for any new employees at that exact moment, it helps to establish relationships so when you are looking, you have a pool of qualified candidates to contact.

15. Get Media Attention for Your Company

High-profile trade shows are a big draw for media outlets of every type, but even smaller ones can attract industry-specific reporters or influencers. Thousands of articles and social media posts will be created based on the products displayed at a trade show. If you capture the attention of someone with their own audience, you can gain exposure to vast new interested audiences.

While it will cost money to buy a booth, design your area, train and transport your staff, and provide products and marketing materials to give away, don’t discount the idea of a trade show for your business. Getting your brand and your product in front of the right potential buyers and the press can pay dividends well beyond what you forked out to attend.

Trade shows are incredible opportunities to raise the profile of your business, unveil new products or services, and to establish or deepen relationships with customers or other businesses in your industry. Handle a trade show properly and you’ll reap rewards for years to come.