Trade shows and events have long been a key weapon in the B2B marketer’s arsenal. From lead generation to maintaining existing relationships to sealing deals to hunting new partners; trade shows perform a whole host of functions in the life of the average business.

Digital marketing has seen an astounding rise in adoption over the period of the last ten to fifteen years. It has eclipsed all other offline marketing channels and it is safe to say that offline marketing is losing importance day by day. However, trade shows are still of great importance to B2B businesses and take up a major part of their budgets.

While it’s great to allocate budgets towards a platform that is tried and tested, it’s even better if you utilize your budget allocations to the fullest extent possible. Here are a few thoughts on how your business can turn trade shows into the star marketing tool that they are capable of being.

Build a reputation as a thought leader.

A trade event typically has people both from the demand side and the supply side of your industry gathered together under one roof. This is the kind of audience most businesses would kill for. By signing up as a speaker at a trade event, you put your business at center stage, where all concerned parties can notice it.

More importantly, you subtly convey the message that you’re someone who knows the business inside and out, a real thought leader who can be trusted with their business if they needed your services. Public speaking can be terrifying for the best of us, but buckle down and attempt this at least once. The difference you’ll see will encourage you to repeat the process over and over again. Here’s a great resource on preparing for that stage and bidding adieu to those cold feet.

Related: 7 Ways to Get the Most Out of Exhibiting at a Trade Show

Lead generation.

Make the most of having the important people from your industry in a single location by setting up your own stall/kiosk where potential customers can walk up and get information. Build a strong funnel of qualified leads by scheduling face-to-face meetings with key prospects at the event.

Create an event page on your website updating visitors about the trade show and your participation. That will ensure that interested parties know they can drop by at the event and talk business, face to face.

Discover new suppliers.

When most businesses participate in a trade show, they restrict themselves to just hunting for new leads and customers. Considering the fact that there will be tons of participants from the supply side, doing this is a complete waste of a golden opportunity. Avoid becoming rooted to your kiosk and move around the event grounds to meet up and network with various suppliers and channel partners for your business.

Get quotes for the tools and software that your business uses regularly and compare them with your existing prices to figure out the best deals. Mingling with suppliers at trade events also means that you’ll stay current with innovations in manufacturing and service delivery in your industry. That can definitely give your business an edge over competition.

Related: 10 Questions to Ask When Preparing for a Trade Show

Win SEO brownie points.

The website and other collateral for a trade event typically list all participating businesses, along with a short description about each, to help other attendees figure out who to meet and network with. Event websites typically link back to your website when they mention your business’ participation.

If it is a marquee event in your industry, a link back from the event website goes a long way in raising your site’s link profile and helping your overall SEO rankings. Even if it is not a very famous event, back links don’t hurt.

Emails from the event organizers to their registered database often carry details about businesses that will be participating. Making sure that your business gets a link back is another step in the right direction from an organic SEO perspective. Besides, an accurate NAP listing with a business description will also help your local SEO, as events and trade shows typically are geographically localized phenomena. Getting this piece spot-on offers a huge boost to the rest of your B2B marketing strategy.

Related: 5 Ways Small Businesses Can Afford a Big-Time Trade Show