Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.
Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.


What’s Your Biggest #Tradeshow #Marketing Challenge? (Survey Results)

A couple of weeks ago I posted a one-question survey which asked tradeshow marketers to identify their BIGGEST challenge when it came to creating a successful experience. To me, success means coming away form the show with more leads than last time, having a booth staff that’s on top of their game, a booth that really shows your company’s brand and identity and in general leaves you wanting to get back and do it again!

The survey went out via our tradeshow marketing list twice and was posted a handful of times on a few social media sites. In other words, it wasn’t scientific but was instead mean to capture a snapshot in time of what people were thinking when they clicked through to the survey.

The question read like this:

What is your biggest challenge in using tradeshows to market successfully?

The question was designed to be as straightforward as possible without trying to steer anyone to a specific answer or topic. There were eight answers possible. These came from the general topics under which all tradeshow marketing elements would likely fall:

  • Determining your show objectives
  • Budgeting
  • Pre-show marketing and preparation
  • Creating an awesome booth that represents your company’s brand and image
  • Booth staff training
  • Lead generation
  • Post-show follow up
  • Keeping track of everything from show to show

The survey was designed to let respondents to choose only one answer. I’m not sure if it would have been better or worse if respondents could have chosen more than one. My thought was it forced people to settle on just a single choice, no matter how many challenges they had in tradeshow marketing. Besides, the question asked respondents to tell us their ‘biggest challenge,’ not their two or three biggest challenges.

As responses to the survey came in, there were two answers that stood out as being the most challenging to the respondents: post-show follow up and creating an awesome booth. For a time it was neck and neck, but in the end, ‘post show follow up’ edged out ‘creating an awesome booth that represents your company’s brand and image’ but not by much.

Tradeshow challenges results
Results from the one question survey: What is your biggest tradeshow marketing challenge?

Bottom Line: the answers don’t surprise me much. In my experience, some of the biggest challenges in tradeshow marketing that people recognize revolve around having a great booth, and taking care with all of those leads that come back to the office with you once the show is over. Booths can be expensive to create and maintain, and leads are often difficult to shepherd through a follow up process. About 80% of all tradeshow leads do NOT get followed up on, so that result is not surprising.

What was interesting to me is that booth staff training didn’t get a single hit among the three dozen or so survey respondents. Staff training is often one of the most overlooked and neglected areas that can influence a company’s tradeshow marketing success.

The fact that about 16% of respondents chose ‘pre-show marketing’ and ‘lead generation’ also indicates some challenging problems in identifying what is the best approach to driving traffic to your booth and, once they’re there, to capture leads in an effective manner.

Tradeshow marketing isn’t easy, nor is it cheap. If it was, everybody would be doing it and growing their businesses faster than they could keep up with. However, done right, it is one of the most effective ways of promoting new products and reaching new markets.

7 Ways to Use Surveys at Tradeshow

What do you think?

When exhibiting at a tradeshow, you’re there to make sales, brand your business, brand your product, schmooze with industry partners, scout out competitors and okay, do a little partying (perhaps).

Are you using the time to do some specific research by using surveys? No? Too bad, it’s a great way to uncover useful information that you may not find elsewhere at ten times the price.

Since you’re already there at the tradeshow, you might as well take advantage of the opportunity. Here are seven ways you can use surveys at tradeshows to bring home more than just some sales and the memory of a great after-hours party.

1. Product comparison: put your product up against a top competitor, much like the old cola wars taste-tests. Take the labels off of your brand and a competitor’s (if you dare), and put them up against each other side by side. If the results come back in your favor, issue a press release, tweet it out.

2. Quickie 2 or 3-question survey: easy to put together and easy for your visitors to take 15 seconds to answer. You can hold a clipboard and pencil, and ask visitors if they can spare just 15 seconds to answer three questions. Be specific and don’t go past that time. Ask the questions, and then finish with a “Would you like to learn more about our product?” and if they say yes, direct them to an associate. If they say no, thank them for their valuable time and release ’em back to the wild.

3. More in-depth survey: offer this only to people that have indicated a willingness to learn more about your products or services. If they seem like good prospects, ask if they mind if you can take just three minutes with them. The survey should be handed to them either in the form of a piece of paper on a clipboard or a laptop. Either way, invite them to leave their name and contact information at the end so you can follow up with the more interested folks.

3. “Live” visual feature or product comparison: set up a graphic and interactive exhibit that asks visitors to make a choice between various possible features or products you may be offering in the near future. Tell them that this research is part of the evaluation process your company is doing. Whether you’re showing 2 or 5 or 9 choices, make the graphics easy to understand and the choices easy to make (hopefully!). Have baskets or jars set up so that visitors can drop something (tennis balls, marbles, etc.) into a jar that echoes their sentiment. Over time each jar will slowly fill up with the choices. By doing this you are giving a visual accounting of how the ‘voting’ or surveying is going.

4. Brand effectiveness: depending on your company and brand, you may want to survey your visitors on how they perceive your brand in comparison to your competitors. While this may take a little more thought to set up, the survey can yield some very worthwhile results in how you are perceived in the marketplace.

5. Measure effectiveness of pre-event marketing: if you do extensive pre-event marketing within your industry in trade magazines or other media, you can survey the effectiveness. If you do a lot of social media promotion you can also judge its effectiveness. Set up a survey that asks visitors IF they heard of you, WHERE they heard of you and if the MESSAGE they saw inspired them to visit your booth (or if they just stumbled across it…).

6. Get input for future events: take some time to ask visitors what impacted them the most at the show. The feedback can be used to help craft your booth, marketing, graphics and promotional slant for the following year’s show.

7. Get feedback on a new product: if you have a product that’s been on the market a short time, the survey can be used to get feedback on how that product is perceived, used or consumed by visitors.

Take a few moments and ask yourself ‘what can I learn from all of those thousands of tradeshow visitors that will help the company?’ Then come up with a great way to elicit that information via a survey. Feel free to share any ideas you may have in the comment section!

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photo credit: bisgovuk

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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