I read an article in The Drum last week headed;
“Repetitive, obtrusive and unscrupulous – public perception of advertising hits a record low”
In a nutshell;
The public’s perception of the value of advertising has hit a record low, according to research from thinktank Credos.
A number of reasons were cited for this feeling. Quoting just a little from The Drum’s piece;
“Respondents said they felt ‘bombarded’ by advertising due to the volume of ads they’re seeing as well as constant repetition. They also said they felt overwhelmed by the ‘obtrusiveness’ of advertising, particularly online where they said brands unfairly delay or disrupt the user experience. Others bemoaned the creative execution of ads, lamenting ‘irritating jingles’ and ‘poor humour’.
However, broader areas of concern arose around the ‘suspicious techniques’ used by advertisers, including instances where it’s unclear whether something is an advertisement (such as influencer marketing) as well as the impact on well-being, like creative work that portrays unrealistic body image ideals.”
“Trust is as scarce as attention”
In his book “This Is Marketing,” Seth Godin writes about this state of affairs (I’ve used his heading for Chapter 18 in his book as my sub-heading above).
A core message of Seth Godin’s book is that today, trust in a business, product or service has to be earned.
But gaining that trust is just as hard as gaining a prospective buyer’s attention.
As The Drum’s article highlights, people, are fed up with marketing bombardment.
Worse still, they trust the truth within those messages less and less.
What has any of this to do with trade shows?
In this context, trade show audiences are ever more valuable
They must be.
People choosing of their own free will to attend a place where they know businesses will be present who want to sell to them is the opposite of the situation revealed by the research from Credos.
And that’s why the value of show participation is so valuable.
As you’ve probably heard a million times, buyers come to you.
So making the most of this unique quality and sales opportunity is what you need to do.
Here’s a tip that has served me well in all kinds of sales situations including exhibitions.
Trade show sales: The opportunity to go deeper
Think about this. People who represent businesses of many different shapes and sizes come onto your stand.
From start-ups to multi-nationals.
This is what makes working at a show so interesting (bored stand staff please note – be interested!).
When you are working on a stand you get to learn about so many things.
Yes, you have to be aware at busy shows not to waste time with general chit-chat but once I have all of the basics squared away I like to find out more about how my prospective client’s business works.
Specifically, where are they in their buying process?
As we know, most things that are sold are part of a process.
Usually, you have to go through a series of steps before a sale is made.
Even impulse buys because of all of that aforementioned advertising and conditioning are rarely true impulse purchases.
Whether this is for toothpaste, a chocolate bar (well OK on that one) or a car.
When we buy things there has often been some kind of set-up in our minds prior to the sale.
We have thought about the product in some way or have been alerted to its existence.
At trade shows the same principle applies and then again, it doesn’t.
A visitor who needs widgets looks for new widgets. Maybe lighter ones. Stronger ones. Cheaper ones. But widgets.
But then someone who has never used a widget stumbles across them at a show and realises that this is exactly what they need to solve a problem that’s been driving them nuts.
The widget exhibitor who has never sold to companies like this suddenly has a new market and a new application for their product.
Bingo! There’s something else that doesn’t happen with advertising. But back to the subject in hand.
Go deeper into the buyers’ situation
When you work in sales or marketing, the focus is often on your sales process.
Achieving goals is what you will be judged and often paid for.
But what about thinking about where your client is in their sales process?
I know that when you are working on a stand you’ll ask “when are you likely to buy or order?”
Or, “when do you need this by…” but what about going deeper.
Who have they purchased from before? How has that worked for them?
Why are they thinking about changing suppliers now?
What are the pressures they are under form the people that they sell to?
How could your company help alleviate some or all of that pain?
Who are the contact points within their business? In other words who else is involved in the buying process?
Do you know them? How well are they mapped within your database?
As a young sales person, I was keen to work quickly. I thought this was being efficient and what I was supposed to do.
With more experience, I took the time to learn a lot more about the companies and people that I was hoping to do business with.
Doing so helped me to map who else was involved in the decision-making process and where the person I was talking to most often stood in the decision-making system.
Working this way you get to see connections.
You also get to see just how comprehensive your sales database really is.
Trade shows provide you with what is increasingly a unique opportunity to have these kinds of discussions.
Increasingly, I think that this opportunity to actually meet prospective buyers will be almost as highly valued as any leads that are collected.
In a time when it’s so hard to get through to people on the phone, where we increasingly talk to each other digitally, where consumers don’t trust advertising, exhibiting will provide a means to meet “real” people.
How’s that for a revolutionary concept.