HOW TO: make the most of trade shows

| March 8, 2011

Rashid KotwalTempted by a trade show but not sure it’s worth the investment? Or perhaps you exhibit every year – same stand, same crowd. But if you aren’t getting solid results, it might be time to rethink your approach.

Sales and marketing consultancy Revealed Resources advises SMEs on how to get more out of business expos.

“Trade shows can be a great lead capture mechanism. It comes down to your market. Is the market you’re going for likely to be there? What traffic is going to come by your stand?” Principal Consultant Rashid Kotwal says.

“A prospect may come into a trade show looking for something completely different, but they walk past your stand and say, ‘this thing could solve I problem I have’. That’s one side-benefit.”

But risk lies in simply throwing up a shingle and expecting a flood of new clients.

“It’s like saying I’m going to put up a stand and people will come to it. It just doesn’t happen like that,” Kotwal says.

Secret to success

Be it a bridal expo, backpackers or boat show, there is one common ingredient in all trade show success.


“That is the thing most people don’t do. You get exposed to potential customers, but it is then down to you to do the follow-up and all the right things afterwards,” Kotwal says.

An exhibit may be a prospects’ first taste of your company, but it’s the steps taken post-show that will turn them into a full-feasting client.

“You’ve got to be in front of people in an unobtrusive way constantly. You don’t know when they are going to be ready.”

“That’s the thing with trade shows – if you don’t follow-up you’ve basically wasted your investment,” Kotwal says.

Calculate the return

While it’s no exact science, there are several things you can do to make the most of your investment.

Stands alone can cost in excess of $100,000, before any promotional, resource or other trade show related expenses.

“The return on investment comes down to a couple of things. Firstly know that the people coming to the show are in your target market.”

Capture the details of the people when they are there. Capture enough detail so you can have a meaningful conversation with them afterwards,” Kotwal says.

“It’s in the constant follow-up. With our own newsletter a client had been on our weekly newsletter list since 2006. He picked up the phone and called us in 2009. The first thing he said was I have to apologise, I keep deleting your emails but this one caught my eye.”

He then signed up for a strategy session and has now become one of Kotwal’s major clients.

“If you’re not doing the right things, not following up prospects forever, then you are going to be missing out.”

For more: Revealed Resources