We finished last week confronting the difficult reality of anticipating trade-show ROI, and concluded that most business professionals highly value face to face interaction. We also concluded that although booth style, high budget trade-shows can provide some face to face interaction, they can be risky investments. Part three rounds out our series by discussing multiple avenues for pursuing face to face opportunities, as well as their pros and cons.
– Part 3 – The Diversity Within “Face-to-Face” Marketing
Three main ways Face to Face opportunities can take form are: trade-show style booths, in-office appointments, and pre-scheduled appointments.
1.) Trade-show Style Booths
We have mentioned this many times before, but the big booth trade-show remains the de facto way for many companies to pursue face to face interaction. It is established, familiar, and has the attitude of, “this is how we have always done things” to it. For those companies who can afford the $25,000 to $100,000 budget to do a big booth show the right way, these events are quite lucrative. Those top quality booths really can provide the space, time, and privacy needed for effective face to face business interaction. But for those in the industry who are unable to compete, big booth shows are only two things: Hopeful, and Risky.
Hopeful, because, apart from the amount of money you spend, you have very little control over the outcome of your trade-show experience. You know there are decision makers in the crowd but there is little guarantee of who will actually attend the show, and no guarantee at all that those who are there will even notice or stop at your booth! The number of trade-show attendees who decide to stop by your booth and the number of those attendees who are actually qualified leads is a game of chances.
Risky, because trade-shows are downright expensive and with the lack of guaranteed results it’s hard to know ahead of time whether your investment will pay off for you or not. Will your leads who convert cost $300 a piece or $3,000? When you invest thousands of dollars into a marketing campaign it’s nice to have a little more certainty about the results.
Big booth trade-shows serve their purpose for some companies, and the style of face to face interaction at these events works for some. But if you are not willing to risk big dollars for aisle conversations, unqualified buyers, and no guarantee of quality conversation, it might be best to look for face to face meetings by other means.
2.) In-Office Appointments
A second way get that desired face to face time is by physically visiting the office of those whom you want to meet by scheduling a meeting and traveling sometimes across the county to sit for an hour. The short story about this pursuit of face to face business is that it can work really well on a small scale. In-office meetings can achieve a highly personalized and pointed meeting, targeted discussion, and true connection. The problem is, however, that in-office appointments are by nature, very hard to arrange. Buyers are extremely busy and justifiably protective of their schedules and contact information. And often, you may not even meet with a decision maker.
Secondly, even when a vendor does manage to schedule an in-office appointment, the cost and time of flying out to meet that busy executive is high. If the meeting is crucial, and the return is high enough, of course, the meeting is worth it. But that is a lot of time, preparation, and financial resources for a single meeting with a single client. Bottom line, in-office appointments have a great sales conversion rate so the ROI is justifiable, BUT they are extremely hard to get, very time consuming, and are very expensive. You need a solution that scales.
3.) Pre-scheduled Appointments
For those willing to try something different, there is a third option for pursuing and securing face to face interaction that meets the trade-show standard of seeing many contacts in one place, and the In-0ffice meeting standard of quality, personalized face to face time. That option is facilitated, pre-scheduled, face-to-face appointments. Pioneered 21 year ago in the Lawn and Garden industry by the National Lawn & Garden Show (NLGS), the pre-scheduled appointment format solves many of the problems presented by trade-show booth and in-office tactics.
As conducted by NLGS, the Pre-Scheduled Appointment format begins by profiling vendors and buyers with an extensive survey of their needs and desires when seeking vendors. Then, buyers are scheduled for two and a half days of 10-minute appointments with qualified vendors. Buyers see the products they have expressed an interest in and vendors meet with buyers who have expressed interest in their product category. This fixes the problems presented by the first two ways people often seek out face to face contact.
The Big Booth Trade-show Fix: Primarily, rather than wandering for miles on the trade-show floor, buyers have their own private “office,” a quiet table where they stay stationary while vendors to come to them. And rather than standing hopefully at a booth, waiting for buyers to walk by, vendors get a whole pre-set itinerary of 10-minute scheduled appointments in which they have the opportunity to make their pitch and make a connection. The appointments are guaranteed and the contacts are vetted for reliability, so there is minimal risk of time lost talking to unsuitable vendors or buyers with little decision making power.
The In-Office Meeting Fix: Secondly, all meetings take place over just two and a half days, necessitating only one hotel cost, one roundtrip airline ticket, and less than three workdays of time. Achieve the personal connection of in office meetings with over 30 contacts, but eliminate the 30 flights, hotels, man hours and preparation that 30 in-office meetings necessitate.
Imagine an event where, a month prior, you are sent a list of buyers and/or Product Categories from which you can select those you want meetings with. A month later, you arrive and set up a small display area without the worry of designing, shipping and building an expensive booth. You are handed a two and a half day schedule populated with face-to-face meetings with qualified, decision-making buyers who are looking for products like yours. From there, the speed dating begins. You’ve got two and a half days of fast paced, face-to-face, private and uninterrupted business meetings with soon to be customers.
Are You Ready for Something New?
For buyers and vendors seeking to save time and money while making more deals, the NLGS format is strong contender for achieving face to face time. Big booth trade-shows, while the most popular route for finding face to face time, are expensive, inefficient, and offer no guarantee. In-Office meetings guarantee personalized face to face time, but are only financially justifiable in very limited situations. Lawn & Garden industry representatives need a face-to-face solution that scales, is structured to enable more deal-making in less time, and comes with a guarantee to reduce your exposure as they try a new format for the first time. While the benefits of such a format may sound straight-forward, you may have reservations about the pre-scheduled appointment model because it’s not the norm.
But here at NLGS, we don’t really like the norm. Oftentimes, “how it’s always been” no longer works. But we also understand the reservations in taking a risk outside of the norm, which is why we provide the rock-solid, no questions asked, money-back guarantee you need. Eliminate the big budget and dashed hopes of big booth trade-shows, stop wasting time on tedious, expensive in-office meetings, and try the National Lawn & Garden Show instead.
For a quick summary of the NLGS Model, check out our 1.5 minute video explanation.
To learn more about the National Lawn & Garden Show and our rock solid guarantee, and to register for your itinerary of 10-minute, pre-scheduled, face-to-face appointments, begin by visiting www.nlgshow.com and calling 888-316-0226 (USA and Canada) or 719-488-0226 (International).