Missing trade shows and their leads? Read: 18 Ways to be productive when you can't exhibit

The lifetime value of a customer can be huge for your business: So don’t permit mediocre exhibiting

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Posted by , 6th March 2017

Trade show marketing and the lifetime value of a customer

Winning a new client or customer is really important when you consider the lifetime value that a client may bring to your business.

Think about what lifetime value means. The length of time that a new client may be associated with or actively buying from your company may stretch across many years.

Over a ten year period, a new customer signed today may be worth many, many thousands of £’s to your business. And that doesn’t include the ancillary value that can be gleaned from using current clients to attract other new clients.

When you focus on lifetime value, you see exhibiting and the potential that it offers, in a whole new light.

Would you start doing things differently?

If you understand the value and impact that core customers can have on your business in the long term, might you start looking at how you approach trade show participation differently?

Walking around shows you will see stands that appear to tell you that some exhibitors don’t understand the opportunity.

  • Stands that have been put together at the last minute
  • Stand staff disinterested in visitors
  • Stands with nobody on them
  • Unclear messaging
  • Stand staff eating in view of show visitors

These are all signs that lifetime value is not truly understood. Yes, I know, you could also say that these stands exhibit bad stand management, but to me, they are pretty much the same thing. Bad or poor management, comes from not grasping the true value or importance that exhibiting offers. If this was understood, these mistakes would occur much less than they do.

Most salespeople only think of short-term value

Over time, the total spent by a client could be huge. Yet, most people in sales and marketing are focused on the short-term.

This short-termism is not generally their fault.  Their bosses and the owners of businesses have conditioned them to think this way and generally, that’s how salespeople earn their bonuses.

If you work in sales, then you will understand what I’m talking about. When a contract is signed we enjoy the thrill of closing a deal. We may get congratulations from on high, especially if the order is a big one. You are a hero, albeit for a very short time. But, it’s much rarer to hear bosses congratulate their sales teams on the lifetime value that orders represent.

That’s not to say that it doesn’t happen. If you sell aeroplanes, or the engines that power them, ships, military hardware or other very large ticket items, these sales are often expressed to the world as;

This order represents £X’,000’s to us over the next three, five, ten years…

But that’s not the way for most salespeople.

Would you do things differently at trade shows if you were playing for the long-term?

The short-term winning or acquiring of clients is most definitely a very important function of sales and marketing. It has to be done, especially when you are a start-up. Revenue and profit are what you need.

However, when thinking of lifetime value and your trade show spend: Might you take a different view on how much money is allocated to winning new clients? Might you be a bit more dynamic in your efforts to attract and woo them.*

If you work within or own a business that will want long-term repeat customers, then yes you should.

Play for the long-term

No more rushing. Don’t leave the planning of your event to the last minute. It’s the details that can make the difference.

The people that you have working on the stand are so important as is the leadership and management of that team. Rehearse with them. Plan with them. Train each other if you have to.

Positioning your at-show messaging around a strong proposition that is communicated clearly to the audience is vital. Write out that core proposition. Edit until you have the strongest possible version. Declutter your stand, your graphics, your sales scripts and follow-up processes based on your proposition. Build your pre-show marketing around it. Seek ways to promote it wherever it might be seen by potential lifetime clients.

Finding lifetime clients when you exhibit

  • Have a crystal clear profile of who your core customers are or should be
  • Find the events that attract significant numbers of these invaluable people
  • Rank those shows in order of their core audience numbers
  • Participate at a level where you make the biggest impact you can with those core client prospects

If your show or marketing budget is tight, you may have to consider participating in fewer events in order to up your spend on shows that deliver bigger numbers of the right people.

You might consider increasing your stand size at these events. Doing so will enable you to offer visitors a better experience and a more comprehensive view of what you offer.

Event sponsorship options and venue branding opportunities may also be considered. Promotional items can help you make a bigger impression with the people who offer the best long-term association potential.

When you look at client acquisition in this way, the cost of acquiring a client takes on a whole new dimension.

Once you understand the true long-term value of core clients, spending £250 or even £2,500 to acquire each one may represent huge value. Long-term, the cost of acquisition may appear as a drop in the ocean when compared with lifetime spend.

More ideas on this theme

For more ideas on this theme see; In need of exhibiting inspiration; When your exhibiting efforts aren’t producing the results you want


*Compute the average lifetime value of a typical client and you might be surprised (and shocked) to learn what the value represents. My definition of “core clients” are businesses or individuals who match closely the ideal-client profile in your company’s marketing plan.

I was first introduced to the “lifetime value” way of thinking some years ago by marketing genius Jay Abraham. Lately, I’ve found many sources that talk about this method of valuation, but he was advocating this way of thinking many years ago.

For more on Jay Abraham visit www.abraham.com

Posted in Sales  /  Small business marketing  /  Trade show advice  /  Trade show marketing

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