In a crisis, companies tend to follow predictable patterns. Imagine the panicked stereotype, railing through the halls, arms waving, calling for budget cuts, lay-offs and the end of free snacks in the coffee room. Minimizing expenses and maximizing revenue suddenly take on an urgency beyond mere business goals or best practices. Leadership can easily lose sight of the big picture. It’s easy to start slashing things.
Marketing departments invariably hear that they need to cut their budgets without guidance on revised corporate priorities and objectives. Too many companies view marketing as a cost center, rather than as a profit center. Advertising, trade shows, even sales support … we can do without these things, right? Halve the marketing budget! Do away with it altogether! (Furrowed brow, dismissive waving of hands, pounding of fists on the table.)
If money has to be cut, it has to be cut. That’s what a crisis is. Your original budget wasn’t just spaghetti on the wall and didn’t include unnecessary expenses but now you need to cut, and may not have much direction about expectations, results, or priorities. Still, we want to be very mindful about really understanding the gives and takes of everything we do, each choice we make. We want, instead of pulling our hair out or acting rashly, to go through the problem-solving in a very informed, non-reactionary way and to understand the implications of everything we might do.
For instance, when we think about trade shows, there are ways still to be there, but to be there with a more economical and effective presence. Eliminating trade shows altogether sends the wrong message to the industry, and particularly to your segments, about your product.
If we think about multiple points of contact before a potential customer converts in some way – whether that’s getting their badge scanned at the booth, snapping your QR code, clicking through an ad, or signing up for your newsletter – we don’t want to eliminate trade shows, where we can get our products into the mouths of so many people.
Instead of skipping shows, use those opportunities to have operators try your product in a setting where you know it has been properly prepared and presented without the expense of individual sales calls. Trade shows give you efficiency – the very people you need to see and to talk to come to you, rather than you having to go to each of them.
Use tradeshows to accelerate opportunities into your sales funnel by maximizing returns on your marketing investments faster. Make sure your sales and marketing teams work together, before, during and after the shows, so that your booth and pre-show communications target the right audience, collect the right information, and allow salespeople to connect with qualified customers. But don’t stop there. Enable your sales team to follow up with show leads and close sales through a solid plan of post-show communications.
This can all be done economically. You may ask, “How can we be at a show like the National Restaurant Association, for instance, but be there for half the spend that we had last year?” What would that look like? Believe me, we’ve been asked that question and achieved that objective. You can still look professional, make an impact, generate interest, and communicate effectively across the industry.
In our trade show consulting and management, ESA can recommend enhancements to your presence and strategy that fit your budget and your needs from the show. Rather than pulling back from trade shows, downsize. Reassess, reevaluate. How do you show up? How do you drive show traffic? How do you get the most out of trade shows in general? Don’t just throw the baby out with the bathwater. ESA can help figure out how trade shows can continue to help you advance your brand in the market, as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.
Did you watch Catherine and Stephanie talk about trade shows in our recent webinar?
If not, take a look: Trade Shows!
An expert at accelerating growth in foodservice channels, Catherine has led re-branding efforts, developed insights-driven selling propositions, segment-specific marketing strategies and led new product development and commercialization initiatives.