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What’s the cost of being on that trade show floor, and how do you maximize it

For small to medium businesses investing in trade show floor space, without ubiquity, your consumer will chunk your collateral along with everyone else’s, as soon as they get home.

trade show floor

trade show floor

Investing in a trade show booth

Trade shows, gotta love’em. Supposedly it’s the latest and greatest products and services a business will need to survive in any economy on display for business owners. They are products and services that allegedly maximize profit, and save time and money, right? That’s why you’re there, to meet the folks, press the flesh, demo greatness, and maybe, just maybe, that business card they take or nifty handout will make it back into their hands once the conference ends. I just tossed out four bags from trade shows past and didn’t even bat an eye to wonder what was in them – sorry. I know, I promised I’d call you first thing on Monday.

What’s this opportunity costing you these days? I’ve read everything from maybe $900 bucks plus travel and expenses (plus all the shirts and toys you give away) all the way up to the hundreds of thousands, depending on the footprint and scale of the actual event. Towering breathtaking spectacles that cost corporations bookoo dollars to design, build, and transport, all in hopes of making the perfect impression.

The value of being seen

I see the value in being seen, but I don’t think trade show believers really do get it. You see, you’ve missed the point entirely. You blew your entire wad on the event and left zero dollars in your budget to create a sense of ubiquity. Twitter? Facebook? Sorry, not there to buy products, so I’m following you, but not really. Consumer recommendations on social platforms? Whomever speaks first and last is assumed a shill; sorry, it’s true.

Maximizing a trade show spend boils down to knowing where the audience you’re meeting dwells online during business hours, and everything inbetween. A simple ad on a niche publication goes a million miles in reminding a consumer you’ve met them on the trade show floor, and of how impressive you were, and it forgives the consumer for being overwhelmed with all of the oohs and ahhs of the event itself, and it subtly calls them back to you. And most consumers don’t have a reason to go back to the event site, so locating niche publications is critical for maximum visibility (let’s face it, you’re not Chase Bank or IBM). Running short-term burst ads before, during, and after an event shows your dominance, and it completes the cycle of making your brand ubiquitous. It gives you credibility and acceptance, especially if you’re a small to medium business without millions to blow on a national television ad campaign to reinforce your brand.

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What stands out? What sticks with consumers?

I just left a trade show, and I honestly can’t tell you one company that stood out to me, or that I truly remember. Do we sell advertising in-house at AG? Of course we do. Does it skew my view of how you should spend your money? No, common sense tells me that if I were in your shoes, I’d want to be seen before, during, and after a trade show, because I understand the consumer’s experience at a tradeshow – I was never there for you in the first place, I was there for the content, you just happened to catch me walking by out of sheer obligation.

Ubiquity comes with very smart spending, and becoming a household name in business is hard as hell to do, but a lot less hell if you take my advice. Be everywhere your consumer is – that’s how you become a household name in business and maximize your exposure.

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network. Before AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation has received the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular offline events. He does not venture into the spotlight often, rather he believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits and develops, so he gives all credit to those he's empowered.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. jonbenya

    September 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    I’m curious about your opinion on this on, Benn.  How do you make yourself the purple cow at the trade show?

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