Trade shows are a classic way to prospect, but not every business takes advantage. The benefits of trade shows are wider than just making sales to prospects though. Media members often attend, and so do your competitors. By knowing in advance where the opportunities and pitfalls are, you stand to give your business a leg up. Read more to see the benefits of trade shows for taking your product to a wider audience!

  1. Make sales on the spot

One of the most appealing things for companies attending trade shows is the ability to make sales on the spot. You can see this in action at boat/car shows. Get the right person in the right mood at the right time, and you may sell someone a 70-foot boat with a couple of bedrooms.

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  1. Get feedback for your product or service

Trade shows give you the opportunity for relatively unbiased and immediate feedback. Customers with no interest in your business may make excellent suggestions to improve your product or service or point out unmet market needs. Getting feedback is a great way to validate your product or find ways to make it even better.

  1. Feed your sales funnel

Even if they visit your trade show display and don’t immediately buy or show red-hot interest, anyone who is interested enough to sign up for your email list is a lead that can potentially be warmed down the road. By getting permission to stay in touch with prospects, you can increase the number of prospects at the top of your funnel. From there, having a quality sales funnel is one of the best ways to increase your revenue.

  1. Use leads to create look-alike audiences for Facebook Ads

One of the coolest things about online advertising is the ability to drill down and target very specific audiences with your advertising. Facebook has a feature for ads called “look-alike” audiences, which uses machine learning to market to customers who share characteristics with your existing list. All you have to do is upload their email addresses in a spreadsheet, and Facebook takes care of the rest, giving you a potentially highly targeted group of people to market to.

  1. Ability to track conversions with qualified prospects

Trade show prospects often have higher household incomes and education levels than the general consumer. This is especially true for national trade shows. Leverage this knowledge by consciously networking and talking with prospects. If your business uses MailChimp for email marketing, for example, you could set up a separate mailing list for trade show prospects with content targeted for them.

  1. Meet with press

Media members typically attend trade shows, and if your product or service is considered publicity worthy, you can reach many more people than you could through advertising your product. Also, publicity is free, whereas advertising can get very expensive very quickly. As long as you aren’t too aggressive, having the opportunity to talk to the press about your product can only help your business. The media can sell more of your product than you ever can, so do your best to get them on board.

  1. Sharpen your ability to qualify prospects

At a trade show, you will interact with a wide variety of people, some are good prospects, and some aren’t good prospects. Everyone has heard stories about how salespeople didn’t treat someone who was very qualified to make a large purchase well and how they took their business to a competitor. You never want to do that as a salesperson or business owner. However, you can learn to read people’s energy while being friendly and treating everyone fairly so when a high-quality prospect steps up to the plate; you can swing confidently.

  1. See what the competition is up to

If you happen to be in one of the 99 plus percent of businesses that have competitors, then trade shows can be a way to gather intelligence about what they are up to. Free flowing gossip is another good reason to attend trade shows. Just be careful that you aren’t getting misinformation.

  1. You can qualify leads on LinkedIn

If the trade show discloses the guest list and you or someone who works for does your homework, you can gain a huge advantage by looking up the guests on LinkedIn. If the guest list includes the names and emails, then you can put the list into a spreadsheet, then upload to LinkedIn. From there, reach out to qualified prospects, rinse and repeat. LinkedIn profiles also tend to give you the ability to ballpark estimate the income/company rank of a prospect, depending on whether you are selling to their business or them personally.

  1. Go to Las Vegas for a few days

Last but not least is the favorite benefit of many trade show and conference attendees. Las Vegas is one of the most popular destinations for these types of events due to the supply of inexpensive hotel rooms, convenient airport, and ample convention center space. So, if Sin City is up your alley, then going to a trade show can be a great way to mix business and pleasure–not to mention the all you can eat buffets and massive swimming pools.


About the Author

Mike Weimar is the president of Iconic Displays, a provider of portable tradeshow displays, booths, and exhibits. He has over 25 years’ experience in high-technology marketing and product development.