About In-Person Exhibiting
Most trade show marketers I know can’t wait to get back to business as usual at real live events. Because of the global pandemic, many businesses are facing big losses and a temporary stay in their ability to market face-to-face. As we in the industry know, there’s no replacement for in-person marketing. It’s what we love to do, and here are just a few reasons why we look forward to the return of trade shows as soon as possible!
One of the primary reasons why people go into marketing and sales is because they are relational. They want to connect with people. It feeds them and it gives them their edge. Connecting with people on a personal level is what enables sale peoples to anticipate their customers’ needs and meet their expectations. And customers respond to that connection. Customers like to be “known,” to feel like someone gets them.
We’ve all been in situations with a member of a wait staff or a salesperson or even our barista and we just hit it off with them. That connection makes for a better experience than if the exchange is awkward or forgettable.
Connecting in person just can’t be beat. Trade shows and exhibiting events are the perfect way to be relational with customers and clients and prospects. Phone calls, emails, and even ZOOM meetings just can’t offer the personal touch that in-person marketing can.
Likeability is really a 1st cousin of connection. When we connect well with other people, it’s usually because we like them or something about them. Part of what we like about people is noticing that they listen to us, that they care about our needs, that they respond in kind to conversation, questions, jokes, etc. While this is extremely easy to navigate in person, it’s very difficult to manage digitally. Body language, eye contact, and personal space all play a role in non-verbal communication, and those are exactly the cues we use to determine if we like or connect with someone.
It’s not impossible to form a likeable bond over a ZOOM call or the phone, but it’s much easier in person. In person, we’re much more likely to strike up a casual conversation about our life or family, to mention what Enneagram type we are, to comment about superfluous matters. Digitally, we are much more apt to try and wrap up the call, keep it brief, and stick to business. As an Enneagram 7, I can’t wait to get back to the fun of the trade shows!
Again, trust is closely related to connection and likeability. Think of the people you trust most. Do you like them? Are you connected to them in some way? Probably you are. Even your butcher has your trust if you’re letting him choose your meat and your cuts and you’re taking his recommendations. When people can look you straight in the eye and get a feel for what you’re about, they’re more likely to know and trust you. In person, we “feel” a connection to someone we can trust (and we also sense those we can’t trust).
While we are all distancing and sheltering in place, we can still build trust with a brand. We can help our customers trust our business and our brand and we can encourage more personal trust by being loyal and committed and serving them well during this time. Eventually, we’ll be back to business as usual building trust personally and in person.
Trade shows are a great opportunity to really show what we’ve got. Our customers and clients get to see our very best. We create specials around our products and services. We build prototypes and let them play with them. We offer one-of-a-kind experiences for them to participate in. We get to know them better through meet and greets. The possibilities are really endless in person.
In person is best. You are your own 3D model of excellence. Even though prospects and clients can watch videos online (and even if you have a super stellar website), it’s not the same. There is a lot vying for their attention online. Even if you have them on a ZOOM call, there are a lot of distractions surrounding them probably.
Bottom line: inside your booth at a trade show is a controlled environment. And you control it. You make it as excellent as you want to. And it shows. You surround customers with your brand, and you control the feeling you want them to have. All of that is out of your control once it goes digital.
All of the previous perks really lead up to this last one – growth is the ROI of any trade show and marketers achieve that through connection, likeability, trust, and excellence. People flock to trade shows to see YOU and you have a condensed, captive audience with whom you can build relationships. You are a big fish in a small pond.
Outside of the trade show, you are a small fish in a very, very big pond. And casting your net seems futile sometimes, as there are so many nets out there already floating around. Hopefully (and thankfully!), trade shows will be back bigger and better than ever very soon.
Not being able to put exhibit investments to use is costing businesses big, which is why it’s important that trade shows are able to come back stronger and safer than ever.
Skyline Exhibitor Source is looking forward to the day that becomes a reality, so we can start helping the world trade once again.
This article was inspired by "3 Things Trade Show Marketers Are Losing Out On When Unable to Exhibit" by Briquelle Neyens and first appeared at skyline.com