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  • Writer's pictureSharon Cumberbatch

Is It Worth It To Exhibit at Conferences?

Since we just returned from exhibiting at the @Black Expo and Health Fair with @QC Empowerment Network, we thought it would be good idea to discuss conferences and review the pros and cons of participating in them for small to mid-sized businesses.

SMB's often have limited resources and budgets for marketing and advertising. However, exhibiting at conferences can provide a range of benefits that can help these businesses to reach new audiences, increase brand awareness, generate leads, and boost sales. In this blog, we will explore the advantages of exhibiting at conferences, the potential drawbacks, and some expert tips for making the most of your event.

Advantages of Exhibiting at Conferences:

  1. Increased Brand Exposure:

    1. Exhibiting at conferences can help small to mid-sized businesses increase their brand exposure by showcasing their products or services to a wider audience. According to a survey conducted by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), 85% of conference attendees had not been contacted by the exhibiting company before the event. This suggests that conferences offer an excellent opportunity to reach new potential customers and create brand awareness.

  2. Networking Opportunities:

    1. Conferences provide a platform for businesses to network with industry professionals, potential customers, and other exhibitors. According to a study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, 87% of exhibitors stated that networking with other exhibitors and attendees was their primary reason for exhibiting at conferences. Exhibitors can use these opportunities to make new connections, develop partnerships, and gain insights into industry trends.

  3. Lead Generation:

    1. Exhibiting at conferences can help businesses generate new leads and potential customers. In fact, according to CEIR, 81% of conference attendees have buying authority, making conferences an ideal place to meet decision-makers who could become long-term customers. Exhibitors can use lead capture tools such as QR codes or business card scanners to collect contact information and follow up with potential customers after the event.

  4. Competitive Advantage:

    1. Exhibiting at conferences can also give small to mid-sized businesses a competitive advantage over their competitors. According to a survey conducted by the Exhibitor Magazine, 81% of attendees said that they remember the companies that exhibited at a conference, and 79% said that they use the products or services of companies that exhibit at a conference.

  5. High Cost:

    1. Exhibiting at conferences can be expensive, especially for small to mid-sized businesses with limited budgets. However, businesses can mitigate these costs by carefully selecting conferences that align with their goals and budget, negotiating booth rental fees, and using cost-effective marketing strategies.

  6. Time-Consuming:

    1. Exhibiting at conferences can be time-consuming, especially for businesses that are short-staffed or have limited resources. Preparing for a conference requires significant planning, including creating marketing materials, developing an exhibit design, and training staff to interact with attendees. However, businesses can make the most of their time by selecting conferences that align with their target audience and goals, prioritizing their activities, and delegating tasks to staff members.

Expert Tips for Exhibiting at Conferences:

  1. Set Goals:

    1. Before exhibiting at a conference, businesses should set clear goals and objectives. These goals could include generating leads, increasing brand awareness, or networking with industry professionals. Having clear goals will help businesses to develop a strategy for their exhibit and measure their success after the event.

  2. Develop a Strong Brand Presence:

    1. Businesses should ensure that their exhibit design and marketing materials reflect their brand identity and messaging. This will help them to stand out from their competitors and create a memorable experience for attendees. According to a study by the Event Marketing Institute, 71% of attendees said that they remember the exhibit design of companies that exhibited at a conference.

  3. Train Staff:

    1. Staff members who interact with attendees should be trained to communicate the brand message effectively, answer questions, and collect lead information. According to a survey conducted by the Event Marketing Institute, 74% of event attendees say that engaging with knowledgeable staff is the most important factor in their event experience.

As you can see, exhibiting at conferences can provide small to mid-sized businesses with numerous benefits, including increased brand exposure, networking opportunities, lead generation, and a competitive advantage. However, there are also potential drawbacks, such as high costs and time constraints, which businesses must carefully consider when deciding to exhibit at a conference.

To get the most out of a conference, businesses should set clear goals, develop a strong brand presence, and train their staff members. Additionally, one tip that most folks may not know is to follow up with leads promptly after the event. According to a survey by the Exhibitor Magazine, only 70% of exhibitors follow up with leads after a conference. By promptly following up with leads, businesses can increase their chances of converting them into long-term customers and maximize their return on investment.


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