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To Exhibit or Not To Exhibit?

Sometimes, people reconsider exhibiting at trade shows during economic downturns, either to ‘cut costs’ or out of concern that ‘fewer people are attending, so it won’t be worth our while’.

Let’s start by remembering the fundamental reasons why trade shows and events are key to marketing and sales:

Trade shows and events provide concentrated face-to-face interactions with a large pool of likely prospects and existing customers at one time.

This has been documented to speed up time-to-purchase, as well as decrease the number and cost of sales touch-points needed to close the sale.

Our #1 reason to exhibit is taking advantage of the lower total cost per sale that trade shows and events offer.

But what about concerns that the number of attendees will drop?

Stop to think a moment, and ask yourself who is not coming – and who still is?  This will give you the next 2 reasons why trade shows are often even more effective during slowdowns:

#2 If budgets are cut, there will be a lot fewer tire kickers in your booth to waste your time.  Those who make it through budget and travel hoops to attend are more likely to be  qualified prospects that have come to the show with genuine needs, looking for new ideas and proven solutions.

#3 You will have more time to spend with visitors to your booth and be able to present better-targeted information. This means fewer, but better interactions with your prospects.

How else can trade shows be even more important in a downturn?

#4 Your prospects and clients may take note of who seems to need to retrench when times get tough, and who looks like they’re in it for the long haul.

#5 When other companies are cutting back, you can increase your relative exposure – and mindshare – to build market share.

#6 If you pay attention to your lead nurturing process, you can go beyond ‘low hanging fruit’ and plant the seeds for future purchases. Nurturing relationships when times are tough creates a foundation for expansion when things improve.

And the most important reason to stick with exhibiting at trade shows during a downturn?

#7 Chances are, your prospects are being asked to slow down their spending and justify every purchase. They will have to take more time to research more carefully.

Your best strategy to deal with the reality of a lengthening sales cycle is to respond with the in-depth information and personal experience that signal a safe decision.

Trade shows provide a cost-effective way to provide targeted data, demonstrations, case studies, testimonials, and other person-to-person reassurance necessary to turn a prospect into a customer in this kind of a sales climate.

Next month, in part 2 of this series, we will tackle strategies to minimize costs while maximizing results in exhibiting at trade shows during a down economy.