There is a difference between trade shows being a waste of time and wasting your time at trade shows.
If you’re like most people, you may struggle to find a return-on-investment from these events. You may even declare them a waste of time. This is because most companies will go into these events with the same approach and the same goals, which is why they walk away with the same frustrations.
Before you write trade shows off completely, ask yourself if you’re making one of these mistakes.
1. Skipping Them Because They’re Not For “Our” Business
Too many entrepreneurs and business owners assume these events hold no value because they’ve never seen any. Or they may stay away from one particular event because it was “dead last year.”
However, skipping these events means you’re basically hand-pouring all of the potential leads and opportunities into your competitor’s funnel. It’s possible that changing your strategy could unlock the hidden value. Consider bringing in a company like 360 leads to optimize your trade show investment and change your approach.
2. No Event-Focused Marketing
A little bit of marketing can go a long way.
First of all, there is still value in distributing a press release that announces that you will be attending the event. This opens you up to possible interview opportunities if there is media covering the event. It also creates a web footprint that proves that your company participates in industry events. These are the things that build your off-page web presence.
You can also purchase and geo-tag social media ads to the area around the actual event center. That way, people will recognize your brand as they check their phones and laptops before, during, and after the event.
This adds to your credibility if you’re speaking at the event or taking part in a panel during one of the breakout sessions.
3. Following Up the Wrong Way
We know. Following up with these leads can be time-consuming and it’s hard to find the time—particularly when you’re not convinced they will amount to anything.
But your staff needs to find (and block off) the time, well in advance of attending the actual event. Because trying to carve out some time in the schedule, after the fact, is how leads cool off and eventually fall through the cracks.
4. Staying in Your Booth
Don’t just stick to your home base. Always send more than one person to the event. That way, you can have one person staying in the booth and the other working the floor.
Walk around and speak to everyone, including businesses that seem to have nothing to do with yours. Meaningful relationships are often built this way. If you don’t meet a would-be customer, you can still meet a would-be vendor or supplier.
Attending a trade show is expensive, and exhibiting at one is even more expensive. If you’re making any of the mistakes we’ve mentioned above, it can be hard to find a return-on-investment.
However, if you change your approach and your outlook, these events could be among your best lead generating activities.