Why Trade Shows Still Matter for Growing B2B Businesses in Boston

In a post-Covid landscape where increasing numbers of employees have withdrawn from face-to-face contact completely, trade shows might seem like an outdated type of networking that requires significant investments of time and capital for very little benefit. Many companies, especially small businesses, are deciding it might be a better idea to pass on the trade shows for marketing for B2B and allocate those resources elsewhere.

This is a mistake.

The global market is so fiercely competitive that businesses need to build relationships with prospects by leveraging every asset and opportunity available to them. Trade shows have several unique features that allow for this to happen. Even if you are seeking out business relationships with companies that are overwhelmingly (or even exclusively) handling all of their business via web app or remote meeting tools, the authenticity of face-to-face contact is an excellent and undervalued tool. By curating a self-selected group of attendees who place value on such interactions, trade shows are a great way to capitalize on this type of potential.

Discover how design marketing in Boston affects brand identity and brand development.

Is The Cost of Trade Shows Worth It?

Dollar for dollar, the return on investment for trade show attendance remains much higher than other, more digitally oriented channels of networking. Exhibiting at a trade show is not only a way to advertise to your target market, it allows for additional opportunities to create brand awareness. The platform of a booth at a trade show lets you promote or demonstrate your products and services to an audience that has essentially been pre-screened to be within your target demographics.

Let’s examine the cost of attending a tradeshow. There are design marketing fees that must be invested to create the booth or demonstration module and fees for renting a space at the trade show itself. In addition, there are the human resources plus capital that are expended in traveling to and from the event, lodging and meals for attendees, occasional after-hours dinners and events that are not covered with the trade show registration fee, and the actual time spent preparing for the show. The time spent away from your core business while at the event itself also results in downtime that must be accounted for as well.

The basic fact of deciding to utilize trade shows as an avenue of business building is that the initial investment in your first show is often much higher than bringing the same setup to other shows in the industry, so those costs do tend to decrease over time. This has always been the case for trade shows, though, even pre-internet. One of the major reasons why showcasing at trade show events has always been a high priority for any serious b2b company is because the cost to convert a prospect into a client is often significantly lower at trade shows than it is for any available digital alternatives. These numbers can also be calculated much more definitively than using the performance indicator formulas that need to be applied to a digital strategy to determine what the actual conversion cost is. This is a benefit whether you are an expert in digital PR or still learning to navigate the minefield of where to focus capital and determine if the effects are beneficial to your business or create an abyss of loss.

Finally, the major trade shows in any industry still retain the respect and name recognition that they’ve always had, and the major corporate participants (established, multi-million dollar industry titans) still faithfully attend, with very few exceptions. This allows smaller companies to use the events as a shared platform and enjoy the perks of standing on the same level as these corporate giants.

Benefits of Trade Shows

We’ve already discussed the facetime and financial benefits, so let’s explore a few more advantages. Trade shows are an opportunity to scope out your competition. Every other company is doing the same thing, and it is a perfectly acceptable way to conduct corporate espionage right out in the open!

Trade shows provide promotional opportunities for introducing new products, or test marking new products and services that haven’t quite reached the “ready for rollout” phase with a pre-selected cross-section of your target market.

There is also significant value in being able to strengthen any existing relationships with customers and complementary businesses. Returning to the same events year after year and allowing customers to see a familiar face while being treated to sneak peeks at things in the pipeline or handed a gift basket along with a handshake as a “thanks for being a part of our family” is still a win that cannot be assigned a number.

The curated collection of potential clients is often distributed at the onset of an event, and if it isn’t, the logbook at a display booth can be a wildly successful method to expand your database of sales leads. These are pre-qualified leads, not a mailing list purchased from a faceless marketing company, and you have often created the initial personal connection by taking a few minutes to interact with them at the booth. Even if the bulk of your sales team is used to utilizing cold calling, the prospects that are generated at a trade show convert to customers at a higher rate than any outbound sales calls can accomplish.

How Design Enhances Your Trade Show Booth Preparation

The institution of trade shows might seem archaic, but the design of the booths that are on display at shows that take place in the current era is cutting-edge. Here are a few ways to make sure that the design marketing of your booth really “pops” with show attendees.

First, an exciting and interactive presentation is the most successful way to draw in potential customers. Remember that you are often one of the dozens that offer the same products and services, so make your booth the one attendees tell their colleagues “can’t be missed.” The best way to do this? Make your booth interactive. Do not use passive activities like a video on repeat. Create a quick game, or even a raffle, with the chance of winning a prize. Use touch screens, or even better, live product demos that encourage those passing by to get interactive with your content.

Keep your brand front and center, but do not overload the display. There is a value to negative space. Creative visuals include photo-worthy backdrops that any Instagram account would be proud to display. Branding some self-care items for attendees is also usually a huge hit along with more valuable giveaways for participating attendees who partake in the full experience of your booth design.

A winning digital strategy coupled with smart tradeshow decisions can be transformative for any small or large business. If you’re stuck for creative ideas on how to take your business to the next level, GoingClear is here to partner with you for the length of the journey! Contact us today to see how design marketing in Boston enhances the trade show experience for your company and its audience.