Inspired Incentives

Why Trade Shows and Conferences Are Essential (And What to Bring)

Posted by Chris Largent

Fri, Sep 08, 2017 @ 03:03 PM

Conferences IMAGE REAL.jpegTo kick off our month of Learning, Enablement, and Development, we wanted to bring up something close to our hearts here at HMI. We’ve been traveling around the U.S. and will be for the next few months. Why are we doing this?

Because we’ve been attending conferences and tradeshows, which are some of the greatest ways to improve and develop your business!

Now, you may have heard that events like these are a waste of time, or that no one really mingles at them. However, we can tell you from experience that, if you keep your eyes and ears open, conferences can be a huge benefit for you and your business.

In this blog, we’re going to give you a few reasons why going to conferences and trade shows should be at the top of your list for learning, enablement, and development, and then give you a list of what to bring.


They’re a Great Way to Showcase Products

Do you have a recent product launch that you’ve been trying to market? You may be paying for ads or sending out emails to your leads, suspects, and prospects about it. With new digital marketing possibilities, there’s no limit to what you can achieve online.

However, according to Heinz Marketing’s 2017 Pipeline Marketing Report, 22.2% of marketers found that the most effective marketing strategies are in-person referrals.

This statistic bodes very well for conferences and tradeshows. These events give customers an idea of how your product may work in a real-life situation. For industries like Building Supplies, Automotive Aftermarket, etc., this can be a golden opportunity to get them thinking or even seal the deal.

In-person marketing can be so much more effective than traditional or digital because, well, you’re right there to explain. Rather than giving your audience a pamphlet or brochure to read and interpret, conferences give you an opportunity to answer all their questions and concerns face-to-face.


They’re a Great Way to Learn from Thought Leaders

How many thought leaders do you follow? Maybe you read their articles and posts on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to see them in person, though?

Conferences and tradeshows are the absolute best way to get in front of these people. Often times, they will have a spotlight or speaking segment at conferences. These talks are a great way to gather ideas, which you can then bring back and implement into your everyday business.

Most of these talks will include Q&As, where you can ask targeted questions of your favorite speakers. VIP passes at conferences may even include meet and greets so that you can have conversations with your favorite thought leaders and discuss those big ideas you have for growth.

HMI is actually going to be speaking at the HARDI Marketing & Sales Optimization Conference from September 17-19 in Philadelphia, PA. Come check us out!


They’re a Good Way to See What Your Competitors Are Doing

It’s always a good idea to keep a pulse on the market you’re in. You can do this through some research into your competitors’ websites. For instance, you can monitor your website traffic and see how you measure up to your competitors using Alexa ranking. Simply type your website URL into the search bar and see where you lay.

Remember, #1 is the best, so the lower your number, the better.

However, unless your competitors are displaying everything you need to know and more on their websites, you probably won’t find the whole picture or any upcoming releases they might be planning.

While you’re at your next conference or tradeshow, leave your booth in good hands for a bit to go explore. If you can find your competitors booths, make sure to ask questions and take the handouts that they have available. You never know what you’ll learn, except one thing: what they’re up to.


Now that we’ve explained why you should go, here’s a helpful list of what you should bring to these conferences and tradeshows. If you’re setting up a booth, these things are essential.

  • Booth Necessities: This include a good number of things:
    • Tablecloth: Preferably branded with your logo
    • Banner: Get noticed and display your products or a slogan or two
    • Computer: Display videos, reference online resources or your web site, or capture client info in your CRM software
  • Another person: You may like to ride solo, but it’s always important to attend with a colleague. This will guarantee that you’ve got booth coverage during multi-day trade shows and can address multiple customer inquiries during high traffic times
  • Order forms: If you’re selling a product, order forms or digital order entries are essential. Mark Cuban once opted out on Shark Tank just because a guy didn’t bring order forms to a tradeshow. Don’t make that mistake.
  • Enticing booth games: Alright, these aren’t essential like order forms, but you’re there to attract attention, right? The best way to do that is to have something to pull people in, for instance, a game of chance that they can win something from. Which brings us to…
  • Some SWAG: People love free things, especially if they won it by random selection or by playing a game. Another great way to get people to your booth is to give visitors something cool that attracts the attention of others walking by them, especially if the items relate to or promote your products, industry or brand. Imagine the conversation, “Hey, where’d you get that sweet bag?”, “Over at the coolest booth in this whole building.”
  • Something to Take Notes: Whether it’s about competitors or those thought leaders, you’ll want to write that down.
  • Business Cards: Obviously.


Interested in other ways to improve and develop your business? Reach out to us at 888.220.4780 or for more ideas.



Topics: conferences, development, learning