Trade Shows: B2B’s Black Friday

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We’re coming off of retail’s hottest annual weekend. “Black Friday” has seeped deep into Thanksgiving Thursday and extends an arm all the way into “Cyber Monday” spurring economic growth. This weekend uses a combination of unbeatable deals and a proximity to upcoming holidays to drive sales.  In the business-to-business sales world such a weekend event doesn’t exist. Or does it?

Retail’s craziest weekend has a lot of the traits that make trade shows so important in the b2b world. There is a predetermined date range, usually one that falls annually. A consumer base that is well aware of the buying opportunity. And of course, competition vying for dollars in a tight window. So what do we make of these parallels?

Let’s analyze how retail, both online and brick-and-mortar, market themselves for this period. Just using trends from what I see from hundreds of brands over this weekend, I think we have an idea for what must be working.



Announce Participation

In advance of this weekend, my inbox is flooded with emails just letting me know to be on the lookout for their participation in the retail mega-weekend. Using email campaigns and personal invitations lets attendees, and specifically your prospects, know that you will be at the show.



Increase Frequency

From about a month out through the weekend itself, I receive increasing communication like the above participation announcements along with other emails. Saturating me with the brand via email, text, web ads and even push notifications on my phone. The key here with b2b is to find the line that will get you top of mind without annoying your prospects. Utilize less abrasive, but still highly visible tactics like physical advertisements at the show venue, sponsored hotels and even airports and taxis.



Utilize a Loss Leader

Brick-and-mortar’s favorite option is to offer an unbelievable, one-time deal to get customers in their store. This may be sold at a loss just to capitalize on priming purchasing in that store. Is there something you could offer a show-only deal on to get attendees into your space and purchasing? Consider products or services that can be leveraged into additional, full margin sales on the spot.



Ride Momentum

Retailers know that this weekend is just the beginning of the holiday shopping push by consumers and will a lot of times extend deals and maintain communication frequency. Your show attendees might not have purchased anything at the show, but leverage post show momentum to capture revenue shortly after by strategic follow up.



Do I envision a day when a b2b trade show opens the door to a stampede of aggressive purchasers literally fighting over who can spend their money on your products? No (as intriguing as that may be), but I think the tactics used in retail consumer marketing to create that buzz can be utilized in b2b to effectively drive revenue.

Analyze your clientele, find out their consumer spending habits, find out what works on them during the holiday sales rush. Chances are, it will work on them in the trade show realm as well.