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Why Trade Shows?

While talking about trade shows last week Johnny T. writes in:

Hey John –
As an events producer, I’m always curious WHY companies exhibit and sponsor. What are you trying to get out of SDWest? How do you define success – is that more of an art or science for your company? Maybe that’s a 2-part question – is success for John Wall separate for success for your company?

Two good questions. I can think of two reasons why to go – lead generation and branding (which some may call awareness). Lead gen makes it simple, a show is a success if we get more names than the previous year. You can also divide the cost of the show by the leads and have a hard metric to brag about. The awareness side is more difficult to measure, but you can survey attendees, watch web traffic following an event and cross new leads from the weeks following the show by the geographic region the show was in to see if you get a boost.

Creating awareness is also useful in moving existing deals. The chance to talk with multiple prospects over a couple of days can generate huge savings over having someone travel around to meet the same prospects. Meeting face to face and maybe even breaking bread with customers and prospects can shave weeks (and therefore expense) off a sales cycle.

After all of the marketing voodoo has managed to snag a prospect customers ultimately by things they like from people they trust, and you can earn that faster at a show than over the phone.

There are also some other higher level ninja tactics. Having a larger, cooler and better booth than other vendors attracts more visits and demoralizes the competition. Many shows are tied to publications so marketing staff can get a lot of business done on the advertising or lead gen front.

Jet lag on top of daylight savings is killing me. More on this later…