Conferences and events always have trade shows. I speak at a great deal of them and attend many others just as a delegate. So I get the opportunity to visit all the trade shows or exhibit booths. Often, the booth exhibitors are not potential clients for us, nor are they aligned with our client needs, but I visit them anyway. I go from booth to booth (I am sure none of you reading this do what I do) and pick up the promotional branded items and pocket them to take home as gifts for my nine-year-old daughter.
Many of the items resonate with me, or stay around our house or my office, and when I need that service, they come top of mind. That is one of the many values of branded promotional items. At the Western Sponsorship Congress™ (WSC), we use Promotion Resource Group(PRG) to help us come up with the right products to impact and resonate with conference delegates so that they remember us when they need a sponsorship marketing agency.
I notice that many of the people in the booths don’t know who they are “selling” to or engaging with. They come to the event with the plan to close a bunch of business and develop new leads with key decision makers. That may happen at some conferences, but not all. If you have a booth at a conference of engineers and are showcasing courier overnight delivery services… or even perhaps industry software for planning, the partners of the firm who are at the conference don’t make those decisions. Procurement, the receptionist (courier), or IT person (software) does! But that partner/engineer can leverage or direct you to the right person or influence your access (positive or negative). But you need to know that they are not buying today and they are not the “buyers”!
Last year, I had the privilege of being engaged to present to the exhibitors of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference. This is a perfect example. At this conference are the elected officials (mayors and councillors). They are there to learn to understand new opportunities and network best practices, as well as to hear from provincial and federal government leaders. The trade show at this conference is huge, and rightfully so! Everyone wants a municipal contract! But these exhibitors know that the thousands of delegates walking up and down the aisles are elected officials. They are not decision makers. They don’t do the due diligence and price comparisons. They have administrative staff to do that. So those exhibitors that think if they convince this Councillor that their product is the “be all and end all” for their community’s woes (be it paving, playgrounds, flooring, or whatever), the best that councillors can suggest is that they will ask their CAO (Chief Administration Officer) or some other key administration person to follow up. For those exhibitors at this event (and most events) who think the sales cycle ends today, it is eye-opening. If you are selling “Veg-o-matic” or the Bamboo Steamer” at the exhibition, yes, the sale closes today. But for most B2B trade shows, this is the start or cultivation of a relationship, not the opportunity to connect for the first time and close.
When we are sponsors or even just exhibitors at a conference trade show, we need to know who we are talking to and their role in the sales cycle. Are they an influencer (which is most likely) or the right decision maker?
I welcome your thoughts on trade shows and exhibitor booths, and the outcomes of your experiences.
These are just one person’s thoughts. Yours are welcomed as well. Please add your thoughts or comments below. Thank you for reading and your feedback.