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Marketing Your Products – Why Visitors Avoid Your Stand at Trade Shows

by Paul Forsythe

in Product Development

If you’re looking for new product ideas, do you visit trade shows? I always recommend attending shows that are outside your normal experience, but where you can still understand the subject. Made an unexpected discovery this week – if you’re responsible for marketing, it’s sometimes worth attending a show even when you have absolutely no interest in the subject.

Why would you do this? Because you will experience for yourself how it feels when marketing is directed AT a potential customer who is not ready to buy

I carried out this exercise myself recently to prepare for a show. It provided some surprises that were in tune with some comments about marketing by Grant Leboff that I’d just heard. Some of the observations were predictable and probably familiar to you. If I couldn’t understand what the company did and I couldn’t learn anything without talking to the representative, I moved on. I also found that I didn’t stay if I’d eaten a sweet from a bowl – Guilt perhaps?

I avoided stands where the exhibitors were bored or too busy with their notepads to notice me

I did usually watch a video for a couple of minutes if one was playing

What I did notice was that nearly all the stands highlighted the products and their features. Very few told me why I should care. Only a handful of representatives spent time explaining products when I wasn’t a potential customer and didn’t have an immediate client that would be interested.

The vast majority of exhibitors had failed to realise that marketing has moved on. Their brochures and displays are no longer the only source of information for their products. Potential customers can now research the companies before attending the exhibition. They will certainly research the products afterward before making their purchasing decisions – increasingly via the social media.

At any time, only about 3% of your potential customers are actively looking for a product or service like yours. The information and discussions at a typical trade show might also reach a few others that are ready to purchase but lack an immediate reason. If you are an exhibitor you can engage with a much larger pool by recognising the role of interested visitors who can influence via the social media platforms. Their support will be determined by the value of the information that you freely provide. It will be squandered if you disregard them because they are not customers themselves.

It’s time to look at your marketing material differently – that it must provide value whether the receiver buys your product or not. Aim to offer new insights to the buyer, instantly building credibility and trust, as well as influencing the criteria behind the eventual purchasing decision.

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