Want to Maximize Your Trade Show Experience? Go Mobile

September 26, 2019

This is the first article in a two-part series.

Trade shows continue to be good places to build buzz and impress decision-makers. But do all trade show appearances generate the returns needed to make the trip worthwhile?

The Consumer Electronics Show works because it’s an “in” place for seeing products and being seen. Its success is due partly to serving such a niche audience (and the fact that it’s held in Las Vegas doesn’t hurt). Decision-makers and influencers attend CES to raise their brand’s profile and share their prophetic vision of the market’s future needs.

CES continues to impress as grand stampedes of influencers and buyers flood the show year after year. The 2019 iteration was not only massive but also remarkably well-attended. This year’s organizers predicted 180,000 visitors from 155 countries, and the event featured 4,500 exhibitors.

However, not all industry trade shows boast this panache, and the market doesn’t seem to notice when the convention center floors are empty. Because many decision-makers don’t travel as much as they did two decades ago, quality attendance has waned at events. Only a handful of attendees are there to buy.

This means that pure attendance — the staple metric of marketers trying to prove return on investment here — might not be as useful as it seems. Just over 20% of marketers quantified event and exhibition ROI not by sales generated but by the number of attendees. Isn’t having people buy products the ideal?

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

Let’s put the lack of quality attendance at trade shows aside. There are other factors working against your efforts if you settle into the comfort and ease of a trade show-only experiential routine.

First, you’ll be surrounded by competitors. Decision-makers meander from one booth to the next and visitors are typically browsing, not buying. After a long day of networking and conversations, your odds of being remembered aren’t always terrific. Besides this, visitors might not be in an impressionable frame of mind, and many are just taking in all the information they can. Converting prospects means separating them from the crowd. That can be tricky.

Second, you might have room to grow. A client recently told me that he knows he won’t get business from trade show appearances — but that he and his team still make their yearly trips because they’ve always done marketing that way. I was stunned. Following a routine isn’t leadership behavior and settling into the status quo isn’t exactly helpful if it’s not driving conversions.

Research shows that most companies don’t follow up on trade show leads once the show is over. The daily grind resumes when exhibitors land back at the office and leads are pushed toward the back burner. Consider the typical budget for a trade show appearance. Yours might differ, but you can get an estimate by multiplying the cost of a booth space by three. Bring a bag of marshmallows to your next appearance — you’ll be burning money if it doesn’t generate sales.

Despite the potential for lost revenue, though, there’s a solution that allows you to exhibit your product and ensure a succession of benefits — and it involves taking your brand on a good old fashioned road trip. A mobile roadshow allows you to not only meet current and potential customers where they are (literally), but also to provide a truly immersive experience without the added challenge of competition.

For more insight into how mobile roadshows could transform your brand strategy, excite prospects and customers, and bring impressive overall returns, stay tuned for the second article in this series.


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