Event marketing is one of the areas that don’t get as much attention from small business owners as other types of marketing. Most business owners are comfortable spending money with advertising on traditional media such as newspaper, magazine, radio, TV or Internet. Advertising on these media does not take much time and effort and is deemed to be proven over number of years.
However, if you are not participating in exhibitions and events such as trade shows, home shows and such you may be missing out on one of the best avenues of putting your business name in front of potential customers who are already interested in your products.
The people coming to the trade shows are there because they are interested in the products being displayed there. Many times they are paying money to get in. Where else can you find potential customers that are perfect match for your products, and are paying money just to listen to what you have to say? Compared to spending money on traditional media advertising where you don’t even know if your target customers are receiving the message event marketing can provide considerable return on your investment.
Event Marketing Challenges and How to Overcome Them
Many small business owners argue that event marketing takes more time, money and effort compared to other forms of advertising. While this is true to some extent there are ways to overcome these challenges with some planning.
You will need to reallocate some of the employees from taking care of business to take care of tradeshows. However, this is just a temporary pain. You should try to work with fewer employees for some time or hire a temporary help who can take care of the business during the tradeshow. You will get higher return on your investment by having employees work at the tradeshow than running existing business.
The argument for spending extra effort on tradeshow is similar. You will receive high return on your efforts because you are spending time with potential customers who are perfect match for your products and who are already in the market to buy them.
As far as cost goes, yes, tradeshows do cost in terms of participation fees and displays and other material. However, this cost is justified for the reasons I mentioned above. The best approach is to divide your marketing budget between traditional advertising and event marketing. The cost of traditional advertising will be on par with event marketing when you look at the return on your investment on both.
Best Practices for Event Marketing
Showing up at the event with a folded table and an employee just sitting behind the counter is a waste of time and money for event marketing. To succeed at event marketing you need to get involved and engage with potential customers. You need to ask questions about what their needs are and explain how your products can address those needs. Also, ask them to fill out their contact information for follow up in the future. This is not the place to close a sale. That can happen in the future meetings.
You should also use professional exhibition display stands and printed hand outs to create the best image of your business. You do not want to be “one of the many” at an exhibition. Your goal should be to stand out and make a lasting impression.