Tradeshowing like it's 1999

Hey all,

I know it’s not fancy inbound marketing and all, but I wanted to know if anyone has ha any experience or advice when it comes to tightly niched tradeshows.

I sell a CMS and marketing suite to solo and small firm attorneys called AmazeLaw. The national Bar Association is holding their annual solo and small firm conference in the fall and I’m trying to figure out how to determine if it’s a decent marketing opportunity.

And if it is worth it, how do I make the most of it?

So, does anyone have any experience good or bad when it comes to being a vendor at an industry tradeshow or conference?

Typically you can sponsor at various levels. For example I can have a manned booth for $1500. I can sponsor a meal or coffee break and have my logo on conference banners for $5k, and for $10k I can have time to speak. If you’ve done these shows before, is it worth it to sponsor at higher levels, considering I’m also going for brand recognition?

The traffic for this particular event would be ~250 solo attorneys, i.e. the decision makers and chief beneficiaries of my product.

Any other ideas on how to make the most of an event like this? Sponsoring an after party? Swag? Giveaways?

Any and all experience is welcome.

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I know of a medium size bootstrapper in my niche who says he has made them work via sponsoring (logo in banners/brochures etc) - but not sure how :wink:

I tried sponsoring swag before (and I thought it was quite useful swag!) - and it got me zilch as far as I could tell.

If I were to do it again I would do manned booth (even though it would end up a LOT more expensive than $1500 by time you put in all costs) but crucially have something in place to get contact details of visitors and follow up. Then you know for future if its worth it or not.

Judging by your pricing and assuming an average churn for your app (which looks great btw), I think you can make it work from a LTV point of view if you get 2+ new customers out of this.

So the question is: If you talk to 50 attorneys (assume 20% stop by your booth), can you convince 2 to buy?

There’s a conference in my community (magento imagine) that I’ve gone to for four years now. I’ve met a lot of great people and deepened relationships by going very year.

I’ve never paid for a booth. Have had a few people tell me that it didn’t really produce a lt of good leads.

Merchants tend to avoid the booths because they’re like meat in a meat market at those conferences.

So the value I’ve gotten out of the conference has been much more from networking and getting referrals.

Do it.

There is a bi-annual conference in my niche market that was coming up recently. I only realised at the last minute this would be a great opportunity to pitch my idea - but it was too late to organise a booth. By coincidence I had found a great image at Gapingvoid I wanted to use. With their permission I made business cards, a couple of t-shirts and 6x4 magnets and walked the floor for 3 days talking to whoever would listen, sticking the magnets to anything made of ferrous metal (although never to anyone else’s stand, just building fixtures).

It turned out to be a great idea - I validated the idea (yes, it has legs), had a lot of good conversations and refreshed a lot of relationships. It has taken me years to come to realisation that this is as much (actually, more) about people as it is about your product. There is no substitute for being there and talking to people, especially if your product / service is anything more high-touch than an iPhone fart app.

Typically for me, it was 2 days after I put up so now I have two things to do. And two small children. And a day job. Good one. But…

Just do it. Forget the fear, if nothing else you will validate the market.

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