There can be little doubt that we are living through tumultuous economic times, in which many entrepreneurs are struggling to survive. Such difficult financial circumstances require entrepreneurs to adapt, and identify new ways in which they can market their products and services.
Trade shows offer a fantastic opportunity to do just that – even when marketing budgets are tight. And if your business is already exhibiting, you should think hard before cancelling trade show appearances because of financial pressures.
Research Suggests Exhibiting is Recession Proof
The US-based Center for Exhibition Industry Research released a report in 2009 entitled The Effect of Economic Recessions on Exhibitions – the study compiled data taken between 1968 and 2007, and the results were surprising. By analysing a range of key metrics including traffic density, buying plans, audience interest factor, first time attendees, buying influence, and the average hours spent visiting exhibits, CEIR discovered that economic recession had little effect on the value of trade shows for exhibitors.
The metrics remained stable – and whilst attendees and exhibition space did indeed decrease during economic downturns, trade shows continued to attract key buyers, whilst the percentage of attendees who planned to buy remained high, even during the toughest financial years. Exhibitions attracted a high quality audience before, during, and after recessionary periods.
Why Exhibiting is Such a Powerful Tool
There are various reasons why exhibiting at trade shows is such a powerful marketing tool. Exhibiting is a highly cost effective way of reinforcing a business’s brand presence, reputation and position – and it offers a substantial and measurable return on investment.
Whilst your business typically has to chase potential new clients to gain new custom, at trade shows potential customers come directly to you. Moving directly to a key stage of the sales process – personal contact with genuinely interested buyers – you are significantly reducing the amount of time it takes to secure a deal. Experts have estimated that it requires at least eight “touch points” (a touch point is a phone call, an email, or a meeting) before a sale is closed – a lengthy and costly process bypassed during trade show exhibitions.
Trade shows are a particularly useful place for small and medium-sized businesses to develop leads and generate sales. Attendees are actively looking for solutions to problems – and you have a great opportunity to reach out and offer those solutions, to people who may never have heard of you or your company.
A Limited Budget Shouldn’t Stop your Exhibiting
If your business is, like many, facing financial difficulties during the recession, you may think exhibiting an expensive extravagance that you can really do without. It’s possible however to economise and reduce exhibiting costs, and ensure you still have a presence at trade shows.
Online you can source high quality but competitively priced exhibiting equipment such as banner stands – this equipment will last years, and can be refurbished if it becomes damaged or shabby.
Paying sales staff to work at your stand is one of the key costs of exhibiting. To reduce costs you can minimise the number of staff at the trade show by sending only your best salespeople. Using local sales personnel will cut down on travel costs.
It’s much better take less exhibiting space than to drop out of a trade show completely. If you hire less space you will not be able to display as many products, but by concentrating on marketing your best-selling product rather than your newest, you can still gain maximum benefit from exhibiting.
We wish all entrepreneurs the best of luck during these challenging economic times.
About Author: Brit Peacock is a blogger and entrepreneur who enjoys writing about issues concerning small business, and offering tips to those struggling through tough economic times.