What Attracts Exhibitors To Trade Shows

Summary

  1. Social value (networking opportunities, brand image) has a positive influence on BOTH an exhibitor’s willingness to pay and intention to return
  2. A company’s size has a positive influence on their intention to return BUT has a negative correlation on their willingness to pay
  3. Prior experience has a positive influence on their intention to return BUT has a negative correlation on their willingness to pay

Trade shows have been around since the late 18th century.

Unlike other traditional marketing channels like newspapers, trade shows continue to grow. One of the reasons for that is because trade shows provide exhibitors one of the best opportunities for face-to-face communication as well as to promote their products and services at the same time.

The purpose of this post is to look at what are the key underlying factors that affect an exhibitor’s decision to exhibit at a trade show. Previous studies have categorised the goal of trade shows into four categories:

  1. Sales-related
  2. Marketing-related
  3. Market research-related
  4. Strategic benefits-related

Among these goals, one of the main goals of exhibitors attending trade shows is for its networking opportunities. In this study, we refer to these benefits (networking opportunities and image development) as social value.

We assume that the social value aspect of a trade show is one of the key factors that will affect whether an exhibitor is willing to pay for a booth space and their intention to return if they do.

In this post, we look at whether social value actually improves a company’s willingness to pay for a booth space and their intention to return. We also take a look at whether the size of the company and prior experience have any impact on these factors.

We believe the findings in this study will prove useful to trade show organisers in improving their marketing strategy to attract and retain exhibitors.

Does social value improve exhibitors’ decision to exhibit?

The answer is yes. It improves both an exhibitor’s willingness to pay and their intention to return.

  • Social value has a positive influence on exhibitors’ willingness to pay
  • Social value has a positive influence on exhibitors’ intention to return

The more social value such as networking opportunities and brand spotlight an exhibitor receives, the more likely they are to pay and most importantly to return for the next show.

Other than improving their brand image, companies may also exhibit at trade shows in order to avoid any misunderstanding that may result from the company’s absence at the show. This is to avoid creating an image that their absence may be interpreted by competitors as if the company was having financial or managerial difficulties.

Does company size improve exhibitors’ decision to exhibit?

Not really. It improves their intention to return but it doesn’t influence their willingness to pay for booth space.

  • Company size has no influence on exhibitors’ willingness to pay
  • Company size has a positive influence on exhibitors’ intention to return

Many studies assume that the bigger the company, the more likely they are to pay for future shows. However, this study shows that the company size doesn’t determine their willingness to pay.

On the other hand, bigger companies have shown a higher tendency to return to the same show compared to smaller companies. One of the reasons for this is because smaller companies are generally more conservative with their budgets than larger companies. This leads to fewer small companies returning to the same show.

Does previous show experience matter?

Yes and no. Previous show experience improves an exhibitor’s intention to return but it doesn’t improve their willingness to pay.

  • Prior experience has no influence on exhibitors’ willingness to pay
  • Prior experience has a positive influence on exhibitors’ intention to return

Another key finding in this study shows that the more times an exhibitor attended the same show, the less satisfied they are with it. This leads to a reduced willingness to pay. However, with that said even with a reduced willingness to pay, exhibitors still have an intention to return to the same show.

Bottom line

Out of all the three factors (social value, company size, and prior experience), social value is the only factor that influences an exhibitor’s willingness to pay.

All three factors have a positive influence on an exhibitor’s intention to return.

Our range of exhibition displays

Source

How To Be Top Of Mind For Trade Show Leads Without Sending Emails

According to Harvard psychologist George A. Miller, the average human mind cannot remember more than seven brands at a time in a product category. Ask someone to name all the brands in a selected product category and rarely will he/she name more than seven. The majority will only name up to two brands.

Multiple studies have shown that the higher up a brand is in its respective category, the higher the probability of customers buying from them.

This applies to trade shows too.

Trade show attendees will visit hundreds of booths and have interacted with booth staffs from multiple companies. The chance of them remembering your booth and brand is not great. Hence, staying top of mind is essential to a trade show’s success. If they don’t remember you, they won’t buy from you.

Why Facebook retargeting is one of the best ways to stay top of mind?

Most post-show strategy consists of sending follow up emails and most of the time…

  1. The lead would turn cold
  2. The lead is not ready to buy yet

Retargeting is one of the most overlooked ways to stay on top of your prospect’s mind. It is a form of advertising that advertises to people who have interacted with your brand before. It is also not interruptive and most importantly is considered a “touch” between your brand and the lead.

“It can take 7 to 13+ touches to generate sales-ready, qualified leads.” – Online Marketing Institute 

Another benefit of retargeting is it requires little to no maintenance work after everything is set up. Once you have your ad creative and targeting setup, it is a system that runs on autopilot.

How to get started

To get started, go to Facebook Ads > Audiences > Custom Audience

Step 1: Select Customer File which will be your list of trade show leads

Double-check that your file is in CSV format not XLS or any other format because Facebook only accepts CSV (or TXT).

Step 2: Select the first option (Add customers from your own file or copy and paste data)

Step 3: Upload your CSV list and give this upload a name

For example, Caravan Show 2017 leads, CES 2017 leads, etc.

In the future, you will be able to create ad campaigns that target those specific leads again. For example, are you going to exhibiting at the same trade show again next year? Good, set up an ad campaign to target leads you got from the previous year’s show.

Hence, it is important to keep everything organised.

Step 4: You are done and ready to create your ad creative

If you want to expand your list, there is a feature on Facebook called Lookalike Audience. What this means is Facebook will find similar people to your audience. In this example, it would similar people to your trade show leads.

Best of all, you just expanded your audience for free. The only thing stopping you from reaching those people now is your budget.

“A Lookalike Audience is a way to reach new people who are likely to be interested in your business because they’re similar to your best existing customers.” – Facebook

You can learn more about Lookalike Audience here.

Step 5: Design ad creative

This is the most important step and will determine your level of success.

It is the same for any advertisement campaign, TV, radio, print, etc. If you run a TV advertisement and your ad is terrible, no matter how engaged the viewers are in that channel, how much research you have done such as between 10pm-12pm is the best time to run your ad campaign, your ad is going to fail.

This applies to retargeting campaigns too.

You can:

  • Setup your ad account in the most efficient way
  • Target the most qualified leads
  • Afford to pay the highest CPC/CPM
  • Done the most extensive research to find the best demographic to advertise to
  • Done the most extensive research to find the best time to advertise on

You can do all the above but if your ad creative sucks, your retargeting campaign will fail.

Here are some resources on how to create a good ad creative:

Step 6: Setting up your ad

  • Trade show leads – Check
  • Ad creative – Check

Now, the only thing left is setting up your ad which is pretty straightforward.

There are hundreds of tutorials out there on creating a Facebook ad so I won’t reinvent the wheel. Here is a good tutorial to watch to get started.

Bonus: Target trade show attendees who didn’t become leads

Another advantage of using Facebook retargeting is the ability to advertise to trade show attendees who didn’t become leads. They saw your landing page from one of your trade show marketing materials and are interested in learning more and instead of talking to one of your booth staff, they go to your website.

  1. Your sales reps can’t reach them because you don’t have their phone number.
  2. Your marketing team can’t reach them with email newsletters because you don’t have their email.

With Facebook retargeting, you will be able to reach these people who can’t be reached with any other method.

To do this, you need a dedicated trade show landing page. Meaning anyone who visited that landing page is a trade show attendee and the only way to find out about that landing page is via trade show brochures, trade show graphics, or any marketing materials from the trade show.

Tip: You need to have an enticing enough offer for them to visit your trade show landing page. If not, why would they visit your landing page when they can just go to your homepage?

Bottom line

Studies have shown that the higher up a brand is in its respective category, the higher the probability of customers buying from them. Manually sending emails to each trade show lead is just one way to stay on top of your prospect’s mind.

Running a retargeting ad campaign is another method to achieve a similar goal to improve your probability of winning a new client.

Our range of exhibition displays

Trade Show Industry Trends in Australia and Asia

Summary

  1. Exhibitors are spending more on booth space and promotion whereas spending on exhibit design and show services have decreased.
  2. China remains the #1 country in Asia in terms of booth space sold and is six times larger than the #2 country (Japan).
  3. The trade show industry in Australia is still healthy and growing at 3.1% per year.
  4. More exhibitors around the world are incorporating digital services and products into their exhibits. 100% of exhibitors in Germany have already digitised their booths.

Trade show plays an important part in a country’s economy. For example, in Germany, the trade show sector generates over 3 billion euros per year.

In 2014, there were over 2,000 exhibitions staged in Australia, attracting over 9.3 million visitors and over 65,000 exhibitors. Exhibitions as part of a conference were the most common type of exhibition, although these events tended to be small in scale.

Trade shows in Australia

Number of exhibitions 2,157
Number of attendees 9,354,553
Number of exhibitors 65,203

Overall, 3% of exhibition visitors were from overseas, 6% were from interstate and 91% were from within the event state.

Trade show spending and budget allocation

  • Exhibit space increased from 29% to 39%.
  • Promotion increased from 9% to 13%.
  • Exhibit design decreased from 18% to 11%.
  • Show services decreased from 18% to 11%.

Exhibitors are spending more on booth space and marketing whereas their budget allocation to exhibit design and show services have declined.

Fastest growing countries for trade shows

In 2016, 20.77 million m2 of space was sold globally by exhibition organisers which represented a 5.5% increase compared to last year.

Out of that, 58% was sold in China at 12 million m2. To put that into comparison, the space sold in China is six times larger than Asia’s second largest trade show market, Japan (2.06 million msold)

The Philippines was the fastest growing in Asia in 2016 with a growth of 9.6%.

Country Growth in space sold
The Philippines 9.6%
China 7.7%
India 7.4%
Vietnam 7.3%
Indonesia 5.8%
Thailand 3.8%
Australia 3.1%
Korea 2.7%
Taiwan 2.3%
Japan 0.5%

Asia also now offers more exhibition venue space than North America. Europe still remains at the #1 spot and captures 45% of the global exhibition market share.

Total number of exhibitions (Asia-Pacific)

Industries No.of exhibitions
Industrial and heavy machinery 346
Discretional consumer services, education, and travel 277
Electronics, IT, and telecommunications 204
Consumer goods and retail trade 190
Building and construction 181
Food and beverage 174
Transportation 130
Medical and healthcare 134
Agriculture, forestry, and energy 107
Business services, financial, legal, and real estate 95
Security and defence 67

Total space rented (Asia-Pacific)

Industries Average size (in sqm)
Consumer goods and retail trade 3.1 million sqm
Building and construction 2.6 million sqm
Industrial and heavy machinery 2.3 million sqm
Discretional consumer services, education, and travel 2.3 million sqm
Electronics, IT, and telecommunications 1.7 million sqm
Transportation 1.1 million sqm
Food and beverage 1.0 million sqm
Medical and healthcare 0.9 million sqm
Agriculture, forestry, and energy 0.6 million sqm
Business services, financial, legal, and real estate 0.4 million sqm
Security and defence 0.3 million sqm

The exhibition industry is going digital

In UFI Global Exhibition Barometer 2017 report, 2 out of 3 survey participants reported that they have added digital services/products like apps and digital signage around their existing exhibitions.

In Germany, 100% of survey participants reported that they have added digital services/products in their exhibit booths. 82% in Brazil and 73% in US.

Digitisation efforts % of respondents
Added digital services/products around our existing exhibitions like apps and digital signage 65% said yes
Changed internal processes and workflows in our company into digital processes 59% said yes
Developed a digital transformation strategy for individual exhibitions/products 33% said yes
Developed a digital transformation strategy for the whole company 23% said yes
Created a designated function in management 23% said yes
Launched digital products not directly related to existing exhibitions 19% said yes

Bottom line

  1. Exhibitors are spending more on booth space and promotion whereas spending on exhibit design and show services have decreased.
  2. China remains the #1 country in Asia in terms of booth space sold and is six times larger than the #2 country which is Japan.
  3. The trade show industry in Australia is still healthy and growing at 3.1% per year.
  4. More exhibitors around the world are incorporating digital services and products into their exhibits. 100% of exhibitors in Germany have already digitised their booths.

Our range of exhibition displays

Source

  • http://www.ufi.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/2014_exhibiton_industry_statistics_b.pdf
  • https://www.iaee.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/2004EEAABenchmarkingReportFinal.pdf
  • https://eeaa.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/FACT-SHEET-EEAA-Market-Monitor-2015-Wave-7.pdf
  • https://eeaa.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/AMAA-Insights-for-the-EEAA-FY2015.pdf
  • https://eeaa.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/EY-report.pdf

Will Digital Marketing Take Over OOH Advertising

This graph shows the search interests for out of home advertising, billboard advertising and digital marketing between 2004 and 2010.

Back in 2004, OOH advertising had a much higher search volume than digital marketing. Today it is a completely different story. Digital marketing has taken off while the search interests for OOH advertising and billboard advertising have been languishing.

Out of all the marketing channels, the decline of Yellow Pages was the worst. Twenty years ago, everyone was on Yellow Pages. Business owners were there. Consumers flipped through their big yellow books to find the products and services they need.

Today Yellow Pages is gone. Go ask any 10-year old what is Yellow Pages. They wouldn’t know what it is.

How about the marketing spend?

Google’s advertising revenue in FY18 is $95 billion. That is bigger than the total advertising revenue for the US TV industry combined!

That $95 billion on advertising sales is just from Google alone. It doesn’t include advertising revenue from Facebook, Instagram, other media networks like Conversant and RadiumOne, and websites selling advertisements individually. It also doesn’t include advertising revenue from email newsletters, affiliate marketing, and other forms of online advertising.

With that said…

Will digital marketing take over OOH advertising?

My answer is no.

Here are five reasons why.

1. Organisations do not allocate all their marketing budget to one channel.

Organisations don’t allocate 100% of their marketing budget to one single marketing channel unless it is a small business. It’s the same as how you don’t put all your investments into one basket.

You don’t see Apple allocating 100% of their marketing budget to digital. They have over 500 retail stores in 25 countries.

You don’t see Google allocating 100% of their marketing budget to digital. They have advertisements in channels such as billboards and TV.

One of Amazon’s billboards. Similar to Google, they also invest in TV advertisements.

2. Even with digital, you can’t reach 100% of your target audience

For example, the majority of teenagers are now on Instagram but baby boomers are still watching TV. So if you want to reach this demographic, TV is still a better bet than Instagram.

3. Different marketing channels have different levels of influence on a customer’s purchasing decision

For example, trade show is a marketing channel with one of the highest influence on a B2B’s purchasing decision. If your products and services are priced in the six-figure range, trade show is a marketing channel to consider. Don’t expect to close a six-figure B2B deal from a Facebook ad that directs to a shopping cart.

4. Different marketing channels target different levels of the customer journey

For example, someone looking to purchase a pair of shoes might browse the retailer’s website first and after they found a pair they like, walk into the store, try it and if everything is good, make the purchase.

5. Possibility for lower ROI in digital marketing spend

More advertisers = Higher CPC and CPM = Lower ROI

As more businesses and marketers move towards digital marketing, the landscape becomes more competitive. CPC starts going up. CPM starts going up. When both of those costs go up, ROI drops.

One of the biggest reasons why digital marketing has skyrocketed in the past ten years is because of its affordability. You can pay $0.20 for clicks in AdWords back in the days. Today, a click for that exact same search term would cost you $2. As more businesses start pouring money into digital marketing, the cost will only go up as more advertisers are competing for the same search term.

The reason for that is the advertisement cost for Google and Facebook is priced via an auction-based system. This means your advertising cost is based on what other advertisers are willing to pay.

Let’s say right now you are paying $1 CPC on AdWords and you’re ranked #1. Tomorrow, a new advertiser can come in and set his/her CPC to $2 per click and that pushes you down to #2. To claim back your #1 spot, you would essentially have to increase your CPC budget to $2.01. You can watch a video on how the Adwords auction system works.

Note: This assumes all other factors remain equal such as your ad relevance, CTR, etc.

As more advertising budgets are allocated towards digital, the cost will gradually increase until the point where only the best advertisers can afford to advertise. Look at TV, there are only a few advertisers and you see the same businesses all the time. You rarely see a small business advertise on TV and that is because of the cost.

This is already happening to digital as the ones who can’t compete stop showing up.

Google in 2003

Back in 2003, you could have easily find keywords to bid on for $0.10. Today, you would have to pay 1000% more for the same search term. The average CPC today is between $1 to $2. If you are in a competitive industry like insurance, a keyword like car insurance would cost you over $30 per click.

The good news for OOH advertising

The good news for OOH advertising is as more budget is allocated towards digital, less budget goes into these “old school” channels. As fewer advertisers are advertising here, media companies would drop their cost to fill inventories.

CPM comparisons among marketing channels

A report by Wells Fargo and Nielsen showed that the average CPM for digital ranges from $5 all the way up to $17.50. The average CPM of Facebook is $7.19. Compare that to OOH advertisements:

  • Bus shelters – $3.38
  • Posters- $3.63

Smart marketers who know what they are doing will capitalise on this trend and create top of funnel (ToFu) and middle of funnel (MoFu) marketing campaigns via different channels like OOH and radio to generate the most amount of brand awareness at very low CPMs and competitors won’t even know who is stealing their market share.

The rise of OOH advertising

Earlier this year, Netflix offered $300m for a billboard company in Los Angeles. Netflix has been investing in billboards for years now. Just google “Netflix billboard ads”.

Investment decisions are made based on metrics such as ROI, NPV, and IRR. On the other hand, marketing decisions are rarely made based on any metric. One of the reasons is because there is a disconnect between old school marketers vs digital marketers.

  1. Old school marketers (TV, newspaper, and radio) don’t understand digital.
  2. Digital marketers don’t understand TV, radio, and OOH advertising.

Hence, they just stick to what they know. However, the organisations with marketers who understand this will be able to capitalise on this trend.

Look at Amazon.

Every retailer’s worst nightmare has been opening up bookstores since 2015 and they have a total of 12 stores now (based on their Q3 2017 report) and they generate almost zero profit from these bookstores.

So why do they keep opening up bookstores eventhough they generate almost no profit from them?

If you look at it from an advertisement point-of-view, advertising their books on Google would cost a fortune. Using a retail store as an advertisement is an overlooked strategy by most organisations and marketers.

Amazon CFO Brian T. Olsavsky told investors that the stores represent another way to reach customers. Amazon isn’t using its stores to generate sales but as a marketing channel to reach customers. He also said the stores are also a great way to showcase Amazon’s hardware devices.

Digital marketing will completely takeover OOH advertising when…

Everyone stops going out.

There is a reason why they call it OOH advertising or out-of-home advertising.

If I’m going to place my bets, I would place a huge bet on us still getting out of our homes which means OOH advertising will continue to exist for decades to come.

Right now, digital marketing continues to dominate and as more advertisers allocate their budget towards digital marketing, the costs will continue to increase. This will make traditional marketing channels more attractive and based on the report shown above by Nielsen and Wells Fargo, the costs for radio and OOH advertisements have already become very attractive.

Summary

  1. OOH advertising will continue to exist unless we stop going out of our homes.
  2. Organisations don’t allocate all their marketing budget to one marketing channel.
  3. More advertisers on digital = Higher CPC and CPM = Lower ROI.
  4. As digital marketing becomes more expensive, more budget will flow back to traditional marketing channels like OOH.

Trade Show Staff Etiquette: The Do’s and Dont’s

Do’s

Dont’s 

Be mindful of appearance and hygiene

As much as we like it or not, people do judge a book by its cover. You want your booth staffs to be presentable as appearance will affect your company’s brand image.

Eating in the booth

It makes you look like you want to eat more than you want to talk to attendees.

Look approachable and friendly

A warm and inviting smile will set the first impression with attendees. Plus, it also makes you look approachable and friendly.

Using your phone for non-work related purpose

Attendees will walk past your booth eventhough they might be interested because they see that you are busy on your phone.

Adhere to a dress code or company branded apparel

Having a dress code not only makes your company look professional, it also allows attendees to easily identify your booth staff when they need someone to talk to.

Ignoring attendees

Don’t let appearances fool you.Even if the attendee might not look like the right prospect, a simple acknowledgement will go a long way.

Be enthusiastic

Positivity and energy attract attendees. No one likes to do business with a negative nelly.

Hanging with the gang

Have you ever tried starting a conversation with a group of strangers talking to each other?

That is similar to booth staff talking with other booth staffs. It is nerve-wracking to the attendees and gives them a huge reason to proceed to the next booth.

Good body language such as good posture and hand positioning

Who would you prefer to talk to?

Body language plays a big role in trade shows.

Sitting

Sitting shows the attendees that you aren’t interested in a conversation. Avoid giving them a reason to pass your booth.

Talk less, listen more

According to an analysis of over 500,000 calls by Gong.io, they found that the highest performing sales reps talk less than the worst performing reps and they listen more than the worst performing sales reps.

Keep pitching, pitching and pitching

No one likes someone who keeps talking about themselves.Secondly, most attendees are busy and have other booths to attend to. A long-winded pitch might actually result in a negative outcome.

Our range of exhibition displays

Infographic done by NWC Displays