7 Lessons Marvel Teaches Us About Trade Shows

Avengers . . . assemble!

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has taken today’s movie industry by storm. The final Avengers movie, Avengers: End Game, is the highest grossing movie of all time. And even with the Avengers storyline complete, Disney plans on releasing even more Marvel movies (thankfully).

In our marketing world, trade shows and events are also at the height of popularity. More and more companies are investing in trade shows and making exhibiting a central part of their lead gen strategies. It got us thinking: what do these two popular (but completely unrelated) topics have in common? What can exhibitors learn from the MCU?

Let’s take a look at 7 lessons from Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, and the rest of the Marvel group:

#1 Trade Shows Are Full of Opportunity

"There was an idea to bring together a group of remarkable people, to see if we could become something more.” —Nick Fury, The Avengers

This quote, from the very first Avengers movie, explains the initial idea for the Avengers team. Nick Fury and the rest of the good guys wanted to bring together all of the universe’s most kick-butt heroes. Trade shows operate under a similar idea. Events bring together the industry’s top decision makers and companies. This creates an awesome platform to exchange ideas and generate hot leads. In a typical sales setting, getting past gatekeepers to decision makers takes superpowers of your own. But at trade shows, you have the unique opportunity to meet face-to-face with decision makers. According to research from CEIR, 81% of trade show attendees have buying authority, and 92% are actively looking for new products. Talk about a “group of remarkable people.”

#2 Know Your Target

“You should have gone for the head.” —Thanos, Avengers: Infinity War

The first time watching Infinity War, this scene gives you a serious stomach-dropping sensation. You, along with Thor, know he made a massive mistake. He aimed for the wrong area, and Thanos wasn’t defeated. When you think of trade shows, you can learn from this lesson as well. It’s important to set goals before the show and steps to accomplish them. If you don’t know your target audience, your key goals, or your objective at events, then you run the risk of missing the mark. Meet with your team beforehand to ensure everyone is on the same page and that you aim for an area that will bring you the most success.

#3 Finding Control in Chaos

“The city is flying and we're fighting an army of robots, and I have a bow and arrow. None of this makes sense.”  —Clint Barton/Hawkeye, Avengers: Age of Ultron

Trade shows are chaotic. At times, they might just resemble the big, dramatic fight in Age of Ultron. And sometimes we may feel a bit like Hawkeye (fighting an army of robots with a bow and arrow). Leads may slip through the cracks, or awesome conversations get lost on the trade show floor. Thankfully, there is tech out there to make your job easier and much less chaotic in the booth. A lead capture solution can automate the capture process, qualify leads, and send them straight into your CRM. By simplifying the process, you give your team more control on the trade show floor.

#4 Watch for Burnout 

“I can do this all day.” —Steve Rogers/Captain America, Captain America: The First Avenger 

Let’s face it: we don’t have the admirable endurance of Captain America. On the trade show floor, you can get quickly wiped out from all the standing, talking, shaking hands, networking, etc. Events are a whole different arena compared to your typical day at the office. The average salesperson has 6.6 conversations a day, but that number is blown out of the water at trade shows. That’s why it’s important to watch for burnout and take breaks. Remember to pack healthy snacks, drink plenty of water, and schedule time away from the booth. After all, if you want to represent your company at its best, you have to be at your best.

#5 Measurement & ROI

“Is that the best you can do?” —Thor, Avengers: Age of Ultron

Thor is one of the funniest Marvel characters, regardless of what situation he finds himself in. You may remember in the start of Thor: The Dark World, he is fighting against a considerably larger foe. Of course, being Thor, he isn’t the least bit intimidated and jokingly says, “I accept your surrender.” Then, in one hit, takes the opponent out for the count. So it’s no surprise in Age of Ultron when he asks the giant robot army, “Is that the best you can do?”. What we can take from this, from an exhibiting perspective, is to ask ourselves this question often. Is that the best you can do? Since events are such a big investment, it’s important to measure and compare event success. See which areas were most successful, and which weren’t. You can always improve upon your success. Automation, like intelligent lead capture, can help you measure your events, target areas for improvement, and calculate ROI.

#6 No Event Is Perfect

“It's an imperfect world, but it's the only one we got.”—Tony Stark/Iron Man, Iron Man

While trade shows are filled to the brim with opportunity, no event is perfect. In such a high-risk, high-reward setting, things are bound to go wrong. Your marketing flyers came out the wrong color, your branded shirts are hideous, part of your booth is coming apart—the list goes on. But at the end of the day, we attend trade shows because they are a target-rich environment. Keep your focus on your main goal—lead generation—and don’t sweat the small stuff. Because at the end of the day, those hot, sales-qualified leads make it all worth it.

#7 The End Matters

“Part of the journey is the end.” —Tony Stark/Iron Man, Avengers: End Game

This scene is one of the most heart-wrenching, touching moments in the MCU to date. From a trade show perspective, it’s important to keep this in mind—the end is part of the journey. What we do once the show is over makes a big difference in our overall success. Sometimes we are guilty of moving on and forgetting about an event once we arrive back to our office. But effective post-show follow up and post-show marketing is the key to closing deals and a positive event ROI. Remember to follow up with leads within 48-72 hours after a show ends for best results. You can also leverage auto emails for fast reengagement.

There you have it: 7 lessons straight from Marvel. Good luck applying these principles, and we wish you all the best in your trade show endeavors! Remember, as Captain America would say, “This is the fight of our lives. We are going to win. Whatever it takes."

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