80/20 Pareto Law – How to apply it to Trade Shows
Ever used that 80/20 rule for your business in the past? Did you participate in a trade show or exhibition, thought it went splendidly based on the pile of business cards you’ve collected… only to fail to make a single sale after you followed up with your leads?
The reason may lie in how you approach leads and the so-called 80/20 Pareto rule. The 80/20 principle was formulated by Joseph M. Juran and named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. It states that 80% of any business’ sales come only from around 20% of its customers. The 80/20 principle can be applied to any aspect of your life, personal or professional. 20% of your employees will be responsible for 80% of your organization’s input, 20% of your products will be responsible for 80% of your revenues, and 20% of your customers will produce 80% of the complaints.
Finding the 80/20 at trade shows is critical for maximizing your performance. Making the most out of your next trade show doesn’t necessarily mean collecting a huge pile of business cards but rather, finding the handful of valuable leads. This ties into the importance of planning – when it comes to trade shows and exhibitions, preparation is key.
80% of attendees prepare their visit – only 20% of exhibitors perform pre-show marketing
According to the Trade Show Exhibitors Association (TSEA), 80% of attendees will already have an idea about which companies they’ll want to see at the show. At the same time, however, only 20% of exhibitors bother with any sort of pre-show promotion to attract them. So, not only are you losing on valuable leads (the 20%) but if you don’t have a pre-show marketing strategy, you are definitely not setting yourself up for success.
So, how do you apply the 80/20 at trade shows? Firstly, you need to understand what your company’s 20% are. This may include your best-selling products and services but also what makes your booth attractive and which part of your presentation is the most engaging. Find the products, services and approaches that generate the highest income and drop the rest. It’s more cost- and time-efficient to focus on the 20% than spend valuable time and energy on the 80% that provide you with only marginal benefits.
Apply 80/20 to sourcing
You can also apply the 80/20 rule when it comes to trade show sourcing. Let’s put it in simple words: 80% of met suppliers at the next show will not be the right fit for you. To make the most out of the trade show, you need to put your energy into finding the right 20%. Then, focus on nurturing and developing those relationships. One way to do so is by asking questions.
Find out if the supplier in question manufactures a given product himself. Are they a factory or a just trading company? Many organizations prefer to work directly with a factory, rather than with middlemen. Inquire about which countries they export to – if the answer is ‘Africa’ or ‘The Middle East’, this may be a sign they’re distributing a lower quality product. Ask about their quality control systems and, of course, take a note of the price. If the answers to all the above are satisfactory, congratulations: you’ve found your 20%.
You can apply the 80/20 rule at trade shows when you are collecting leads, too. The principle is the same: get to know a potential lead to find out if they’re to go into the 80% or 20% pile. However, it’s important to note that the Pareto principle isn’t set in stone, meaning it doesn’t always work out to be exactly 80/20. Depending on your industry and specific circumstances, it can be 70/30 or even 90/10. The exact numbers don’t matter, it’s the principle behind it. It’s better to spend time on a limited few than waste it on the trivial many.
80% listening and 20% speaking
When gathering leads at your next trade show, apply the 80/20 principle to your interactions with them, too. This means listen 80% of the time and only speak throughout the other 20%. This can help you identify the leads worth following and gather information that will in turn help you create trust.
In fact, when it comes to succeeding at trade shows, it’s often more important to build long-lasting relationships built on trust with clients rather than simply build leads. Of course, leads should be a priority when it comes to attending trade shows. However, instead of counting the number of business cards you get, aim to create a memorable conversation. Listen to what your potential leads need and identify their issues; talk primarily about their concerns and problems. This will not only foster a greater sense of trust in your organization but will also help you find the 20% of leads that are worth following up.
At an exhibition, your goal should speak to as many people as you possibly can. Remember: speak only 20% of your time and listen for 80% to your visitor. After you’ve done that, ensure you know who the essential few are – and follow up with them consequently. Set yourself for success by following the 80/20 rule at trade shows.
The most famous and experienced expert for applying the 80/20 rules to corporate marketing and business is Perry Marshall. He has developed comprehensive content including software tools about this topic. Perry has published a 240 pages book “80/20 Sales and Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Working Less and Making More”. Definitely worth reading it carefully or even several times.