4 Options for Trade Shows: Walk, Exhibit, Speak or Sponsor

“We need to go GlobalExpo.”  OK, before you jump to book a booth – and all the expenses that go along with that – let’s look at your options, costs and benefits so you can make an informed business decision.

Option 1 Walk the Show

 

If you’ve never been to the event before, attending for one full day before you commit to a booth or sponsorship in the future is a smart move.

Lowest Cost:  Travel expenses + registration fees + time = lowest cost option.

Benefits:  Did we say low cost?  Even if you’re just walking, you still need to set objectives to get the most from your time:

  • Before you go, outline your business development objectives and your evaluation criteria for future participation
  • Plan on attending technical sessions, expo, and at least one networking event to evaluate if quality, prospect and client attendance at each matches up with your business development goals
  • Look carefully at the hosting organization’s professionalism as an indicator of year-over-year quality and value

Caution! If your company representatives carry materials or demos and promote on the go, your company runs the risk of being labeled as a cheapskate among your industry peers.

Recommendation:  We recommend walking shows when attending for the first time or when you need to connect with only a handful of targeted prospects.

Option 2 Conference Presentation

 

Surveys show that customers attend industry events to learn. A conference presentation delivers on this.  It has real advantages over just walking a show but without adding a ton of expenses – if you can make the abstract submission deadline, often six months or more before the event.

Moderate Cost:  Travel expenses + registration fees (often lower or waived for speakers) + time + abstract and presentation prep time + marketing time = moderate cost.

Benefits:  A relevant, educational and promoted presentation, like a case study, can provide better visibility with credibility than a booth when the conference is the lead draw of the event:

  • Opportunity for you to be a recognized authority
  • Present to attendees that have self-qualified themselves as prospects
  • Make sure your last thank-you slide has your company’s and your contact information so attendees can follow up with you
  • Get more mileage with advance marketing of your session and make sure your presentation is submitted for the conference proceedings distributed to attendees after the event

Caution!  A conference presentation is not a product demo or sales presentation if you want to be asked to present again.

Recommendation:  We strongly recommend this option. Presenting adds the advantage of being an authority in front of self-qualifying attendees and a long shelf life of your presentation extends its value.

Option 3 Exhibiting

 

Exhibiting can be the most productive and the most expensive option.

High Cost: Booth display + furniture + A/V + power + shipping + tchotchkes + marketing = 3 to 4 times the cost of just the booth space. Add staff time + travel expense = high cost. All-in costs can be 5 to 6 times the booth space and big bite out of your annual marketing budget.

Benefit:  If the expo is a good fit and attracts a critical mass of your prospects and clients, it can be the best way to educate prospects, generate leads, build relationships and reach your objectives. Just make sure you have:

  • Clearly defined objectives aimed at positive ROI
  • Advance marketing plan to drive your target audience to your booth
  • Planned business development activities in your booth and outside your booth
  • Don’t let the ball drop after the event – follow up is key

Caution!  If your plan is to attract prospects with a fancy booth display, you haven’t prepared enough for a successful event.

Recommendation:  Booths require the most investment in time and money. We recommend this when you have significant business development interests and there’s a solid plan in place to make money, not lose it.

Option 4 Sponsorships

 

Sponsorships enhance your booth presence, build brand awareness and increase your standing with the hosting organization.

Moderate to High Cost: Sponsor levels range widely from a $500 to $100,000 depending on the size of the event and sponsorship level.

Benefit:  Elevate your company’s profile and get your message out to a wider audience:

  • Direct, one-to-one communication to attendees:  conference bags, key cards, event apps, etc.
  • Sponsoring a dinner or networking event often gets to you the opportunity to address a C-level audience directly in general remarks
  • Usually many options to choose from, making it easier to fit into your budget and objectives

Caution! Don’t sponsor if you’re not in attendance, preferably as an exhibitor. Being a sponsor and not having the courtesy to be there is worse than if you didn’t sponsor at all.

Recommendation:  We recommend sponsorships for new companies or companies entering new sectors that trying to boost their profile in the industry.

In all cases, setting objectives and a having concrete plan to achieve them will make the most of your time and money.

2018-07-19T15:23:51+00:00