Mobile Tours Can Replace Flagging Trade Shows

Steve Randazzo

Once upon a time, trade shows were deemed the kings of B2B marketing events. Top business leaders flocked to convention centers to learn about new equipment, technology and other tools. This gold standard of education brought awareness to potential clients and gave brands a platform to flaunt their latest products. If attendees were lucky, a little fun was mixed in for good measure.

Today the fairytale-like success of trade shows has dwindled, and the shows seem more like a hassle. High-powered decision makers no longer feel they have time to travel or roam around for a week accumulating briefcases full of brochures.

According to the 2017 Center for Exhibition Industry Research Index Report, the fourth quarter of 2016 was yet another sign the reign of trade shows is over. Attendance has plummeted at shows that once were industry staples for luxury brands, oil and gas companies, and more. Others, like the Food Marketing Institute show in Chicago, have disappeared entirely.

This may seem like a big blow to B2B marketing tactics, but the decline of trade shows presents a new opportunity to elevate engagement with prospects to new levels.

Trade shows certainly offer specific opportunities, but what they do for one brand, they do similarly for others. Instead of setting up a booth next to competitors, brands can gain a client’s undivided attention and differentiate themselves by presenting the client with something much more appealing: an educational field trip.

Field trips are the future

Remember what field trips felt like when you were a kid? You actually looked forward to going to school because these adventures broke the monotony of your daily routine.

By embarking on a mobile tour, your brand can provide a similar feeling to decision makers within your target audience. Simply load up your product into a van, truck or trailer and visit every company on your dream list of clients on their turf. Offering a fun, interactive experience for the whole office could capture each individual’s attention for anywhere from 45 minutes to two-plus hours.

When a mobile tour visits an office, prospects leap at the opportunity to get away from their desks for a while. Because the brand is brought directly to the company, there is no need for the usual trade show inconveniences such as spending money on airfare, staying in uncomfortable hotel rooms and being away from family. Plus, because it’s on-site, decision makers are present alongside their support teams, so conversations happen on the spot.

The ROI on a mobile trade show is incredible, as you’re speaking to a captive audience of just the right people at just the right time. Clients have told us that mobile trade shows have doubled their pipelines and halved their sales cycles.

Hands-on experiences created by mobile tours are successful ways for brands to stand out. Although trade shows held a special place in B2B marketing events for many years, it’s time to take their best educational elements and transform them into captivating experiences that can be executed anywhere. The potential of mobile tours is enormous, and it can be as simple as giving hardworking adults the kind of field trip their inner children would rave about.

Steve Randazzo is the founder and president of Pro Motion Inc., an experiential marketing agency located in Missouri.


Eager To Hit The Road On A Mobile Tour? Here’s Where To Start:

Frame the offer properly.

Don’t be timid about asking consumers for some of their time. Remember, you’re providing key advantages: an insider’s look at something interesting or valuable to your target audience, without the inconvenience and expense associated with travel. The experience is free and there’s no risk for your customer to visit. You’re doing your audience a favor, so make a mental note to effectively communicate that perk.

Make it immersive

Handing out brochures and business cards is a great way to be forgotten. Keep in mind that a mobile tour isn’t just a live infomercial in which you shout out statistics and dramatically show off a product. The best way to draw in prospects is with a knowledgeable, hands-on experience. Make it fun so it doesn’t feel like work.

Start with some quick welcoming words from a passionate brand advocate, and then let attendees examine your product on their own terms. The presenter should answer questions and facilitate the experience but shouldn’t come off like a pushy salesperson.

Solve a problem

Focus on the company you’re visiting, not your product. The company’s key players have unique needs, and you created a product to help relieve their specific pain points. Attendees should never feel as if you’re marketing to them.

The best part comes when your targeted consumer fully understands and sees value in your product. This facilitates the strongest response your product can receive: a ringing endorsement from one co-worker to another.