Expos and Trade Shows: Face-to-face Marketing in a Digital World

by Emily Retherford

2 min read

Social media outreach, content marketing and search engine optimization are phrases that dominate marketing discussions in the digital world. Face-to-face marketing techniques still deserve a place in your marketing strategy, and some of the most effective venues for face-to-face marketing are trade shows or expos. There are pros and cons to this type of marketing and multiple factors to keep in mind when deciding whether an expo is right for your business.

Branding Opportunities

The more frequently potential clients see your business name, the more effectively it will be branded in their minds. Whether you own a small boutique, a plumbing company or another type of business, you need to get your name in front of your community. Your multi-pronged marketing strategy should include things such as attending expos, sponsoring local sports teams and placing ads in local publications.

To assess the branding opportunity offered by the expo, ask the show producer or sales rep about attendance expectations. You may also want some qualifications, such as the median incomes of last year’s attendees. Ask lots of questions; every expo is different.

Meeting New Clients

Expos get your name into the community, and they give you opportunities to showcase your products, pitch your services and build client relationships. If the potential attendees sound promising to you, brush up on your elevator pitch, book a booth and start chatting with prospective new clients. To ensure you don’t lose contact with these potential leads, find an innovative way to obtain their names and numbers. For example, many businesses raffle off a prize to incentivize people to share their contact details.

Networking Potential

The attendees at expos are not the only people you can reach out to at these events. The other exhibitors can also present a powerful networking opportunity for your business. For example, imagine you are a baker at a wedding expo. If you arrive early and talk with the other exhibitors, you may meet a photographer or a wedding planner who agrees to tell clients about your services, and in exchange, you can agree to recommend them to your clients.

Costs

The cost of expos can vary considerably. Small local shows may charge a nominal fee for the booth, and you may incur costs setting up a table, investing in new business cards, and buying branded pens, T-shirts or promotional toys. In other cases, you may spend thousands of dollars on exhibition fees and even more buying a professionally designed expo booth. Decide whether the cost of exhibiting is worth the potential marketing benefits.

Time Commitment

Expos and trade shows can take time as well as money. If you have a booth and supplies ready to go, you only need to worry about carving time out of your schedule or paying employees to attend the show. In other cases, you may have to devote time to designing a booth, ordering marketing materials and preparing in other ways.

References & Resources

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