Business conferences and trade shows can boost your business in many unexpected ways because you make invaluable connections and directly find out about innovations and trends in your industry.
As an exhibitor at these types of events, you can get plenty of business exposure and get a chance to network with people who can help your business grow. This happens because these events often bring together the thought leaders in your industry, national keynote speakers, and some of the smartest people in the business.
In addition, the organizers often go out of their way to make sure that you get the most value for your money. They may enhance these events with high tech features like a mobile conference app that provides you with an interface to share your ideas and control many aspects of your event experience.
In fact, once you understand how enriching these events can be you might decide to go at least once a year.
What Kind of Benefits Can You Expect?
While benefits depend on diverse variables like your business, your industry, and the type of event you attend, here are 10 common benefits enjoyed by attendees at conferences and trade shows.
- You get an opportunity to meet with the leaders in your industry and get a glimpse of emerging market trends.
- You gather many unique ideas on how to enhance your business processes or improve your marketing and sales.
- 3. You have an opportunity to gather a significant amount of marketing collateral, ranging from pictures to interviews, for future use.
- If you are a speaker, you might be able to outline how your business serves the industry. What’s more, you can repurpose this content in your blog, newsletter, social media pages, video sharing sites, or other marketing channels.
- You will meet with potential partners, prospects, and investors as you mingle with others.
- You will increase your business exposure because there will be quite a bit of media covering the event, and you might even be able to get an interview with some reporters from leading trade journals.
- You will make your social media marketing much more lively because you now have something interesting to share with your followers.
- You will get subscribers to your newsletters.
- You can use your speaking opportunity as credentials to ask for other speaking gigs at other conferences and establish yourself as an authority in your niche.
- 10. You will get a much better idea about your industry and the marketplace, which will help you get better at improving your PR and marketing.
How Much Does It Cost?
A trade show will be expensive, but you should be able to easily recoup your costs in terms of increased B2B business. Consider your expenses as a promotional cost for professional contacts, new sales leads and media exposure for your business.
Here are some things to take into consideration:
- You will spend at least $2,500. This is a minimum and you will probably spend much more.
- Your costs will include booth space, the cost of sending your sales reps, marketing materials, business travel expenses, food and lodging, and miscellaneous expenses (parking, tips, etc)
- Your costs may go up if you decide that you want to stay at the same hotel as the other attendees to increase your networking opportunities.
How Should You Prepare?
The better you prepare for the event, the more likely it is to be well-worth the time, money, and energy you spend in sending your top people to represent your company at these events.
Here are some guidelines on how to prepare:
- Make a comprehensive list of your goals for going to the conference or the trade show.
One of your goals might be to get a chance to speak and talk about how your business can benefit the business community. Another goal might be to get a brief interview on a TV program that is covering the event. You may get $100,000 worth of media coverage based on the average cost of $100 per minute of media advertising.
- Carefully pick the right event to attend.
The right event will be relevant to your business, feature big name speakers, attract top media coverage, and potential clients, investors, and JV partners.
- Maximize your ROI
Here are 5 ideas to consider to maximize your return on investment:
- Get a speaking gig as an individual speaker or join a panel of other speakers.
- Check out your competition because they will be attendees, too.
- Set up a booth to showcase your products or provide demos.
- Leverage your attendance by creating buzz on social media.
- Connect with key influencers in your industry.
After the Trade Show
Just as you have prepared for the event, you should also spend some time after the trade show reaping the benefits.
Essentially, you should do two things:
- Carefully record, analyze and organize all your information.
- Follow up on building a relationship with your contacts. Barry Siskind, the author of “Powerful Exhibit Marketing,” offers the following advice: “When you return from the trade show, plan how and when you will stay in regular contact with the people you met. This communication may include regular calls, visits, social media, email and mail.”