“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.