Look, I love online.
I’m an online presence nut.
But there is nothing like being at a show and talking to people in person. Statistically, it takes eight touches with a person online or over the phone before they buy from you.
In person you can cut that down to one sometime, and their desire to get more information from you is exponentially higher when you meet them. I can get 10x more email subscribers in a two day event than I do in a month.
So why live shows?
It’s the easiest and quickest way to get immediate validation that you are a legit company.
Because you paid for a booth. You sat down, had wares to show, and just by doing that you are immediately a professional in the eyes of most attendees and, equally important, vendors.
Your biggest ally in this world are the other people doing what you do. They are going to be your biggest fans, and the only people who trying understand what you do. They will shout you out. They will buy your stuff. They will be there for you.
The fans are fantastic and I love them to death, but being legit in the eyes of other vendors is so crucial, and you can only truly do that if you’re behind that booth.
Why don’t people like live shows?
Where I generally hear this come from are people that go to one show a year and think that is enough.
Newsflash: it’s never enough to go to just one.
Because people’s minds are fleeting. They need to see you over and over again. They need to keep passing your booth, and if they like your stuff one time, they will eventually buy it.
Additionally, I hear it a lot from people who have no follow-up sequence. So they go to a show, get no emails, build no audience, and go home with nothing, having just blown a few hundred bucks on a booth.
So audience building at shows is important?
It’s mission critical. It’s more important than selling at shows. If you are not collecting emails, en masse, at a show, then you are wasting a huge opportunity.
Even at a small show we want to collect 50–100 sign-ups…because most of our audience growth is at live shows.
We collect dozens of signatures at shows, then we set up an auto responder sequence to build trust, and a weekly newsletter. We provide value and personality throughout the year through social media, and then at the next show, we have a deeper connection.
You can say what you want about online, there is nothing like shaking somebody’s hand. I can’t tell you how much we’ve sold to people that found us online, liked what we had to say, and bought our products at a show.
Found us at a show, signed up for our mailing list, listen to our podcast, and come back at the next show and buy products then.
There is no single way to do this. You can’t be a live show guy with no online presence. But you also can’t be all online with no in person. People need to see you. They need to hear you. They need to know you are flesh and blood.
But shows are expensive!
I don’t care. Business is expensive. Audience growth is expensive. The ROI is massive though, especially when you hit certain benchmarks.
You don’t have to go to a big show first. You can find a trade show, or a fair, or a local show at your favorite shop. Start there, and grow to the big shows.
But you are only hurting yourself by not getting out there.
It’s also great to test branding.
Live shows are the best way to test branding, pitches, and marketing strategies in a compact setting.
In a two day show you speak to hundreds of people, and they will tell you exactly what works, what doesn’t work, what they respond to, and where you should focus your attention.
Every time I release a product I spend months going to shows with it, testing pitches, and trying different marketing materials before I settle on something that works.
When I find something that works, I know it’s because it’s been through thousands of tests with customers to hone the messaging.
Long story short: Get out to shows. Don’t wait. Do it now.