Why Trade Shows Are the Perfect Opportunity for Your Product or Service to Sell Itself

The grandfather of modern marketing himself, Peter Drucker, said, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

Often, knowing and understanding the customer is carried out from a distance. Yes, you can (and should) engage with customers via social media, email or phone, but in today’s digital age, you won’t always get the opportunity to meet with the customer in person.

Not, that is, unless you attend trade shows, which allow you to meet face to face with multiple prospects in a day — some of whom you never would have had the opportunity to speak with otherwise. Consider these stats:

  • 7 out of 10 attendees plan to buy one or more products at trade shows. 
  • 76 percent of prospects at trade shows ask for quotes and 26 percent sign purchase orders.
  • 72 percent of visitors say the show influenced their buying decision. 

Based on these stats, getting a trade show attendee to sign with your company should be like shooting fish in a barrel. But, as many marketers who invest in trade shows will tell you, it's not that easy. To turn a prospect into a customer, you must engage visitors in meaningful conversations that show you understand and can meet their needs (more adequately than your competitors) so your product or service can sell itself.

"But," you say, "if I'm doing all the legwork behind the scenes, getting to know the customer, etc., then my products and services aren't really selling themselves, are they?"

You got us. No, your products and services are not just going to magically sell themselves without a little research and strategy on your part. However, once you discover what your prospects need and can clearly point out how your product or service can cure what ails them, the rest is simple.

Here are some tips to make the most of your trade show experience (and get a leg up on competitors).

Get to Know Attendees Beforehand

Before you set foot in the exhibit hall, you should know what industries your prospects are in, what types of roles and decision-making power attendees hold within their organizations and what their concerns are so you can directly address their hot buttons in your marketing material. After catching their attention, you can start the types of meaningful conversations that lead to a conversion.

Check out the List of Exhibitors

Knowing the types of businesses who will be at the show will help you prepare a competitive strategy. By anticipating your competition's sales pitch, you’ll be able to showcase features or benefits your company offers that they don’t.

To give yourself even more of a competitive edge, consider purchasing a booth at a show not typically associated with your products and services. When you attend a niche show, your competitors will most likely not be there, giving you the opportunity to “cross-pollinate ideas into your product lineup, and come up with things your competitors and clients have truly never seen before,” says starterist.com.

Make a Good Impression

Once you’ve done your competitive research, your goal should be to make such a good impression on the prospect that they 1) realize their need for your product or service and 2) are so impressed with your company that they don’t feel a need to research other vendors. The only thing that attendees evaluate more than the product or service you are selling is you, which is why you must make the best first impression possible.

One of Our Sales Associates in Action at a Recent Trade Show
Be aware of your body language. If you’re sitting down, talking with an associate or flipping through your own material, attendees assume that you are too busy to talk with them. Instead, approach them, engage them and welcome them to your booth.

Once you draw your prospects in, listen to their concerns before jumping into your sales pitch so you’ll know exactly which topics to stress when you do start talking about your product.

Then, draw upon the knowledge you’ve gained during your attendee research to answer as many of the prospect’s questions as you can. If you don’t know the answer, tell the prospect you will find out, get their contact information, research the answer to their question and be sure to get back to them within a few days.

Give them a unique toll-free number that redirects to your direct line so that the prospect has an easy way to get in touch with you and so you can easily track any phone leads from the show.

Follow up with Leads

Always follow up with leads. Send a personal email to clients who had questions you’re researching the answers to or who expressed interest in making a purchase.

For leads who visited your booth but were still on the fence about what you had to offer, shoot them an email offering to help them answer any questions or address any concerns they may have. This will help you stay at the forefront of the prospect’s mind without seeming pushy.

The next time you attend a trade show, jump on the chance to get to know and understand your future customers, match them with the product or solution that best meets their particular needs and watch your product sell itself.