We all know the appeal of a big, flashy trade show. The amazing booths, the energy of the people, and, let’s not forget, the private parties. These things, and more importantly, your sales and marketing efforts, make them a valuable part of your event and lead gen strategies.
But, how much consideration have you given smaller conferences and events? While not as flashy, they bring a lot of value and can help set the stage for your overall event success.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a sucker for large trade shows. I love the chaos of the floor during set-up, the excitement on opening day, and the packed exhibit hall aisles. BUT, when it comes to the real opportunities, more intimate, vertical focused conferences provide greater access to those you’ve been vying to meet face-to-face.
Here’s something to think about: a CEIR study found that 46% of trade show attendees are executive or upper management. It’s safe to say those numbers apply to small events too. In fact, that number may even be higher. With a lower number of attendees, the odds are in your favor to make contact with your target audience.
In my experience, top decision-makers actively participate in the opening networking reception and can be found strolling the aisles with the other attendees. And, since the show floor is smaller, they tend to walk past your booth several times. Faces become recognizable and, by the end of the show, you feel like you know everyone there. You’ll find key people engaging with others at their booth, rather than hiding out in a private conference room. And you’re always pleasantly surprised by who you meet standing in line for coffee or catching up on emails on a bench in the outer hallway.
With niche conferences, you’ll find that while the quantity of leads isn’t as high as larger events, it’s the quality that counts. The relationships created are lasting, and the conversations are more memorable. These relationships are what drive lasting results. A study conducted by AIRC found that 53% of exhibitors see the most success reaching their target audience at smaller/regional shows. A fact that cannot be ignored.
It’s important to attend and exhibit at the right events, whether they be large or small. The key is to do your research and diversify as much as possible. I’ve had the opportunity to exhibit at the Las Vegas Convention Center more times than I can count, as well as at convention centers all across the country. I’ve also exhibited at the largest exhibition halls in Europe. And at the end of the day, one of my favorite events is held at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, NY circling the Unisphere, with a simple tabletop, some sunshine (or maybe a day filled with rain), and a lot of great conversations.
With all that has recently happened in the world, people will be cautious to jump right back into a large group of people. And while there is no doubt that trade shows will come back stronger than ever, the smaller events are where people will start first. Take advantage of these shows as they start back up, create the relationships that come with them. And then, when the large shows are back, those you have interacted with at the smaller events will seek you out at the larger ones too.
I’d love to know what some of your favorite events are (whether they be large or small). I’d also like to hear about the successes you’ve had at smaller events. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.