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Are Trade Show Sales Leads Worth It?

If you are attending trade shows, there is no doubt that one of your goals is to gather leads. However, often business ask the question, “Are trade show sales leads worth it?” This article explores this question and how trade show attendance can assist your company in various ways.
No doubt a great deal goes into answering the question, “Are trade show sales leads worth it.” The dynamic between a business and an existing and potential customer at a trade show is complex and can vary from industry to industry and business to business. Yet, there are some undeniable facts about the nature of business and the nature of trade shows that shouldn’t be ignored.

Are Trade Shows Worth the Time?

Considering the question, “Are trade show sales leads worth it?” really means answering the question as to whether or not trade shows are really worth your company’s time and resources. This is actually a surprisingly easy question to answer in that trade shows are all about maintaining a presence and profile within your given industry. Often companies look at the amount of money that they are spending on their trade show presence and wonder if they are capturing enough qualified leads to make it worthwhile.

The bottom line is that if you are not at a trade show and your competitors are, you potentially at a considerable competitive disadvantage. You can hope that your competitor is incompetent and will not capitalize on your conspicuous absence, but is that really a way to run your business? Clearly, allowing your competitor to take all the limelight at a trade show while you sit it out is a very risky proposition.

When you ask yourself, “Are trade show sales leads worth it?” don’t forget to ask the accompanying question, “Am I comfortable allowing my competitor to get all of those leads instead? In the long term, information is power, and you want to know the players are that are interested in your products, goods and services. In short, you want details about who is attending trade shows and what it is that they want.

Trade Shows are Not Just About Leads

It is safe to say that the primary goal of any trade show is for participants to find new customers or cultivate their relationships with existing customers. This goal should never been forgotten. However, savvy executives and businesses realize that trade shows are also invaluable for gaining knowledge about one’s respective industry and keeping tabs on competitors. There is a reason that some people observe trade shows with great intensity, and that is because they are in the process of learning.

Your trade show sales leads are worth it on several levels. Attending a trade show isn’t just about the leads you acquire. It is also about maintaining your industry profile, learning about new developments, keeping your competitors from taking all the leads for themselves and keeping tabs on what your competitors are up to as well.

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Custom vs Modular Trade Show Exhibit Companies

As we’re sure you are aware, there are an abundance of trade show exhibit manufacturers out there trying to sell your company its next booth. For example, if you type “trade show exhibit companies” into Google you will get over 6 million results, which is an extremely daunting number of companies to sift through to find the right one to fit your needs. So what’s the difference between all these trade show companies? We’d like to highlight some of those differences to help eliminate a few companies right off the bat.

Generally speaking, there are two distinctive types of tradeshow companies: custom houses and modular exhibit companies. The modular exhibit companies are large national entities that have branches in nearly every city. These branches are individually owned and operated businesses, hence the reason we define them as “franchise” companies. If you are familiar with the trade show industry, you’ve probably heard of some of these companies we are referring to: examples include Nimlok, Skyline, and Nomadic. We have a unique perspective on the franchise companies because we used to work for one. Here are some of the differences between the franchise companies, a trade show provider like Metro Exhibits (you knew we had to have at least one plug):

Double Markups: Same Cost, Less Product
When purchasing an exhibit from a franchise company like a Nimlok or Skyline, you place an order with the local “branch”, which is independently owned, that turns around and buys the product from the manufacturer. Then the product is sold to you. Logically, the manufacturer has to make a profit and the local company has to make a profit, meaning you bought something has was marked up twice. Conversely, companies that make their own exhibits themselves don’t have to charge unreasonable costs for the same product.

Separate Resources
The franchise companies will eagerly provide you with an energetic pitch about their network of connected offices, shared resources, warehouse space, and discounted rates. These tales, however, are usually just not true. The independently owned franchises do not cooperate much at all, don’t share warehouse or storage space, and generally don’t even speak to their counterparts in other cities. About the best that they can really offer is the same “discounted” rate on shipping and other basic services that other companies can offer too.

No Personal Touch
Generally speaking, the franchise companies design and manufacture products in their national facilities much like cars are made. Just like cars, the end products have the same basic chassis and interior with a few customizable elements. It’s a factory assembly line for exhibits. If your company has a unique brand that you’re proud of, its ok to cringe at the last part. You’re probably thinking that you deserve a unique exhibit that truly captures the essence of your brand, company, and product. We couldn’t agree more. That’s why we invite you to experience the difference.

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Metro Expands to Las Vegas

Metro Exhibits celebrates over 1 year in business and expands to Las Vegas.

It seems like no matter where you turn these days all you hear about is doom and gloom news regarding the economy: companies laying off thousands of workers, slashing budgets, and pausing advertising campaigns. Naturally this recessionary effect has trickled down to the tradeshow industry where it has hit especially hard, causing many companies to rethink their exhibiting strategy as shows experience reduced attendance. One tradeshow exhibit supplier, however, is bucking the trend and managing successfully even in this economy.

Metro Exhibits in Fairfield, New Jersey, is currently celebrating its first successful year in business and is still growing despite the slowdown. The company was founded last May by Philip Zamloot and Joseph Cancro after the pair started out on their own from another exhibit house they thought was being mismanaged.
“A lot of people are surprised to hear that my company is doing well, with all the new trends in online marketing. But to tell you the truth, I’m not surprised at all. Face to face marketing is extremely successful and my clients see the results. I am able to offer phenomenal personal service and quality exhibits which is the winning combination in this industry” states Zamloot.

“By no means has this last year been an easy ride…the economy has made a lot of my clients nervous. But somehow we keep managing to acquire new clients and grow, even with [the economy] in rough shape. We pride ourselves at being able to come up with effective tradeshow solutions for our clients while staying within their budget,” says Metro founder and President Phil Zamloot. Zamloot attributes the company’s growth on a strong focus on customer service, viral word of mouth marketing, and affordable pricing.

Recently Metro has expanded by adding a rental depot in the Las Vegas area, home to some of the world’s largest tradeshows. Now the company can offer both tradeshow services and rental exhibits for shows in Las Vegas and California at reduced costs because of the new local presence. Back in New Jersey, Metro added additional warehouse space after landing several new clients and went from 9,700 square feet to 19,000 square feet in total storage space.

Currently Zamloot is planning the continued expansion of Metro Exhibit’s service offerings and client base. He’s excited about the company’s prospects and is looking forward to coming out of the recession, at which point the sky’s the limit as far as this dynamic company is concerned.

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Are Trade Shows Obsolete? Don’t bet on it

With the growing dominance of the online realm, many companies are beginning to rethink the marketing channels they use to connect with customers. It is very tempting to throw trade shows into the same bucket of declining channels as print and television advertisement. If you look a little deeper, however, trade shows can be a very valuable source of new business when used correctly.


Tradeshow Attendees: The Right Audience Statistically, around 85% of trade show attendees have some purchasing power of goods or services for their company. That means a large majority of attendees in the sea of people at your next show could be potential customers, it’s just a matter of identifying and establishing relationships with the right prospects and generating booth traffic.


Lead Cost According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, the average cost of a exhibition lead is $215. Comparatively, a non trade show lead can cost as much as $1,039. This takes into account the marketing costs to generate a lead and the extra effort it takes to achieve the same face to face interaction. Consider your average cost of acquisition for a non show lead.

In the end, it just makes sense… Finally, considering the high level of competition with other channels, especially online marketing, trade shows just make sense. In no other setting do you have such a captive audience that is attending an event geared specifically to your product or service.

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