Last week I visited The Business Start-up Show in Excel London. I had a pretty fascinating experience that I will like to share with you. It will give you an insight into strategies for marketing your product and services.

As I walked from stand to stand and saw other people walking around, an odd question popped into my mind.

The question was: who actually profited from the event?

Judging from the audience and from the way they walked pass the stands, it became obvious to me that someone was making money from the show otherwise they will not be having it…but who?

I am almost 100% certain that the majority of exhibitors end up leaving empty handed. If they manage to get some leads, I am convinced the maths in terms of return on investment for their time and money does not add up.

I am sure aside from the feel good factor that most exhibitors had, happy that they did some form of marketing, not a single one of them with gun to the head will be able to demonstrate a positive return on investment for exhibiting at the business start-up show.

Maybe the only people who ended up walking away with some spoils were those who held presentations at the event. I said maybe because many of the people I saw around there did not look to me like people willing or ready to part with their cash.

Let’s assume I am right, the majority of exhibitors walk away with zero return on investment, why do businesses keep exhibiting year after year at the show when they are not deriving any benefit from it?

The answer to this question is twofold:

Firstly, the show organisers have good marketing people who keep selling hope to the exhibitors. Maybe just maybe this could be the year when they will make that big breakthrough they had been seeking by exhibiting.

Secondly, for most exhibitors, it is an easy form of marketing. Instead of thinking of complex marketing strategies that produce results, it is easy to stand up there for two day hoping upon hope.

If it does not work out at least they can console themselves that they tried and gave it their best shot…it is not their fault…it is the economy.

Poor guys…it is not their fault but the fault of the government…The Eurozone crisis etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Talking about fault, I said before something very fascinating happened I know you have been thinking to yourself what’s fascinating about exhibitors not making a return on investment.

Well here it is.

While I was at the show a guy rang me. He had been hounding me for the past few weeks, he is part of my Business Growth Blueprint Meetup group. He has not yet attended any of the events but he had been in constant communication with me applauding my effort telling me what a great job I was doing with the group.

I kept wondering what is it he wanted to speak to me about…

He explained to me how he felt sorry for me that I was well intentioned but the entrepreneurs I was dealing with were not a good target market. They were bunch of blood sucking leeches who hop from event to event for freebie.

He moaned about how he has been at it for 18 months and had finally decided to return to paid employment because he could not make a living in business consulting.

I responded to him that I did share his concern and took his point but I had made some changes to the group structure in order to change the target market.

I put it to him like this: customers have the right to choose the vendor they wanted to do business with. In the same token, vendors had the right to choose the customers they wanted to do business.

If you are dealing with a group of people whom you consider bunch of cheapskates the first thing it demonstrates is your customer selection process leaves a lot to be desired.

Secondly, you do not have to continue transacting with them. If they cannot pay for your service, just leave that group and find another group of people who can afford to pay for your service. Period.

He was not buying it… he was hell bent on blaming his inability to attract customers on outside forces, so I let him.

Coming back to the show which is the purpose of this article, as I walked around and noticed that it was a losing battle I was not going to get any prospect form there, I decided to take my own advice and leave to the CPA show since I had also registered for.

On my way to the CPA show, I stumbled upon the alternative medicine show. I was not registered for it but I somehow managed to talk my way into it. It was a completely different atmosphere.

Whereas at the business start-up show I could not even speak to a single person of substance, I spend an hour at the alternative medicine show and came out with twelve leads including three solid ones.

There is a high probability I could close more than the three because there were a few connectors and influencers I spoke to.

The first thing that is instructive about this story is this: the doctors were very easy to speak to, they were polite and friendly even if they were not interested in what I was selling they did not blow me away, they smiled to you and politely said thanks but no thanks.

If I went or called their practices, the chance getting direct to them is zero but there they were like sheep in the slaughter house for me to choose as I wanted.

I could have wasted my time at the business start-up event keep on trying my luck and hoping like the exhibitors that maybe just maybe by the end of the day, I will meet that someone who will give me the million pound contract.

But the sooner I noticed that I was swimming against the tide, I decided to leave and went to the people I was looking for.

So answer this question, do you keep going after the same target market like the exhibitors hoping that maybe just maybe someone will show up with the pot of gold, or are you doing what I did and just say next?

I hope you do!



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