Most businesses seem to hit trade shows as if they are a necessary evil for lead generation. They do what is needed, but don’t try to stand out. At a time when budgets are tight and trade show attendance is dropping, is this approach wise?
As I was walking through the Global Petroleum Show here in Calgary on Tuesday, I was struck by a few insights.
Fitting In – The 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule applies to big trade shows. 80% of the displays looked pretty much just like most of the other displays. Even the big ones seemed to waste the benefit of the large footprint for which they paid. They certainly didn’t have more significant percentage of traffic.
Less than 20% of the exhibitors actively greeted or engaged with people passing by. They waited for people to approach them. However, they didn’t have anything to make people stop in.
Personally, the ones I found the most attractive weren’t the ones that had the biggest equipment on display or the most expensive displays.
That is Interesting
It was the vendors that made it clear what problem they were solving in an innovative, new way. They were interesting.
People go to trade shows for a variety of reasons.
Innovators go to trade shows to learn, to find new ideas, and to explore new ways of solving problems. Visionary sales people think beyond what they sell and their competitors – they look at how they can add more value to clients by expanding their network and making connections outside of their segment.
How Google defines it:
Trade Show (noun) – an exhibition at which businesses in a particular industry promote their products and services.
“You’ve got to attend trade shows to find out what’s new and unique in the industry.”
Vendors attend a trade show to generate new leads, brand awareness, and to connect with existing clients. If they are in the 20% club, they are bringing their innovative and newest solutions.
Capture the Imagination and Win Leads
The 80/20 rule is fractal. If we take the top 20% of the vendors and then look at the top 20% of those, we have the top 4% overall. By drilling down, we start seeing the results from the intersection of innovative and engaging solutions mixed with creative booths, displays, and trade-show teams that stand out.
We are quick to write off leads that aren’t “buyers.” However, trade shows are networking events, and you don’t know who that junior person you met might know.
Above all else, people tend to remember how you made them feel:
- Important enough to be wowed by the booth team
- Excited at discovering something new
- They are interesting and connected to others
Here are a few examples that stood out from the first day, not because their booths were necessarily the biggest and best, but because they were interesting and engaging.
Going Green – Coconut Oil and Increasing Production
Those are the words that caught my attention. It turns out that they have a sister company that produces biodegradable fluids from sources like coconut and palm oil. They invented something new. Because the industry is risk adverse, to prove the concept, they decided to form their own Exploration and Production (E&P) company.
Specifically, this company acquires abandoned or under-producing wells. Then it cleans them up and re-stimulates them using the new products from that sister company. This process results in significantly increased production.
You can check them out at Revitalize Energy.
Drones, AI, and Robotics
Okay, I have a technical background and have a personal interest in where technology is going. So when I saw a geomatics company and some drones, I was interested enough to stop and chat.
The owner was quite willing to talk to us. It turns out that these are not the drones you get at the store. Commercial drones can cost you over $100,000. Then you have to install many different types of sensors and electronics. Those sensors are often custom built, then mounted in the drone. $30,000 for a sensor is nothing to sneeze at.
After the more exciting part of flying drones, the real work and value come together. A lot of data from many sources is combined and analyzed for each customer. They get the insights and results they need.
You can check them out at Ventus Geospatial.
That Is So Logistical
I wasn’t looking for a logistics company. But, the person at the booth was quick to remember us from last year and was enthusiastic. Now, I just wish I had a need for a warehouse or shipping.
As companies struggle to keep a lid on costs, they can look to outsourcing some or all of their warehousing needs in Calgary and Edmonton.
Still, that is not the most exciting part. It is getting your products from the warehouse to customers around the world fast and efficiently. This aspect is where they can shine via creative shipping solutions and partnerships.
You can check them out at Complete Shipping Solutions.
Online Marketing Lessons
It is easy to think that trade shows are different from other marketing activities.
Instead, I challenge you to think about how your online marketing can take these lessons – be interesting, engagement, and connecting – and bring them to the Internet to win leads.
Looking to learn more about how to creating interesting online marketing, that will attract and convert leads? Check out the free Guidebook.