The Secret to Selling at B2B Events: Transforming Want to Need

David Betke

Marketing strategies can go awry when the lines between wants and needs blur, leading to wasted resources, lost sales, and a disengaged audience.


It's a common scenario that many marketers fall into, catering to what their audience wants instead of what they need. But understanding the difference between these two is vital in crafting effective marketing campaigns, creating valuable products or services, and ultimately, achieving business success.


For illustration purposes, we will use the example of a company that has developed an event app called SimpleLeads™ to help exhibitors reduce physical waste and waste in their marketing processes by optimizing lead generation.

Want and Need Signs Pointing in Different Directions

Understanding the Difference Between Your Audience's Wants and Needs


First, we must understand the difference between wants and needs. A 'want' is something a person desires or aspires to have, while a 'need' is essential for survival or success. Understanding this distinction is crucial when selling a product or service.


Exhibitors' wants in sustainable marketing may include:

  • Being eco-friendly
  • Reducing carbon footprint
  • Utilizing renewable energy sources
  • Minimizing waste generation

On the other hand, exhibitors' needs revolve around fundamental aspects of their business, including:


  • Generating profit to pay their employees
  • Ensuring financial stability
  • Encouraging innovation and growth
  • Delivering value to customers


By understanding your audience's wants and needs, you can better tailor your sales approach and messaging to address their underlying motivations.

The Art of Transformation: From Want to Need


Transforming wants into needs involves finding a way to align exhibitors' aspirations for sustainability with their core business objectives. Here are a few ways to accomplish this transformation:


1. Highlight the cost-saving benefits:

Show how your solution can save exhibitors money in various areas. For example, the SimpleLeads™ app reduces catalogue print costs by up to 100%, reduces paper waste, and generates a list of segmented leads at the end of each show. By emphasizing the financial benefits, you can position your solution as a need for exhibitors looking to improve their bottom line. It also addresses their wants of being eco-friendly, reducing waste and their carbon footprint by reducing the amount of marketing collateral they print.


2. Emphasize efficiency and productivity gains:

Showcase how your solution can streamline processes and save time for exhibitors. For example, the SimpleLeads™ app reduces print costs and paper waste and automates lead generation, saving exhibitors hours of manual work. By highlighting the time-saving benefits, you can position your solution as necessary for exhibitors looking to increase their productivity and focus on other aspects of their business.


3. Address challenges:

Understand the challenges that exhibitors face in their industry. For example, exhibitors often need help to acquire new customers and generate trade show leads. Position your solution as a need by demonstrating how it can effectively address these challenges. Showcase how the SimpleLeads™ app helps exhibitors acquire new customers by generating a list of segmented leads at the end of each show, making it easier for them to convert leads into sales.



4. Provide social proof and testimonials:

Share success stories and testimonials from other exhibitors who have benefited from using your solution. Social proof can be a powerful tool in transforming a want into a need, as it provides evidence that your solution delivers tangible results. Highlight how other exhibitors have achieved financial stability, growth, and sustainability using the SimpleLeads™ app. You may also quantify the amount of waste your solution reduced by comparing how much they used to print for a trade show with how little they needed to print after adopting the app.

Positioning Your Solution as What They Need


Now that you understand your audience's wants have transformed them into needs, it's time to position your solution as something they genuinely need. Here are some strategies for effective positioning:

1. Create a compelling value proposition:

Clearly articulate the unique value that your solution brings to exhibitors. Please focus on how your solution addresses their needs, such as cost savings, increased efficiency, and improved lead generation. Craft a clear, concise value proposition communicating how your solution meets their requirements.

Example: Our App Reduces Print Costs Up to 100%, Generates Better Leads & Saves Trees!

2. Tailor your messaging:

Customize your messaging to resonate with exhibitors' needs. Use language that speaks directly to their pain points and aspirations. For example, highlight how the SimpleLeads™ app can help exhibitors achieve financial stability by reducing costs and increasing revenue. Use real-world examples and case studies to make your messaging more relatable and persuasive.


3. Demonstrate expertise and credibility:

Position yourself and your company as experts in the industry. Share insights, data, and research that support the effectiveness of your solution. Establish credibility by showcasing your experience and knowledge in helping exhibitors achieve their goals. This will instill confidence in potential buyers that your solution is what they need.


4. Offer personalized solutions:

Tailor your solution to meet the unique needs of each exhibitor. Show that you understand their specific challenges and provide customized recommendations on how your solution can address them effectively. This personalized approach demonstrates that you genuinely care about their success and positions your solution as a necessity rather than just a want.


5. Provide ongoing support and customer success:

Demonstrate that you are committed to helping exhibitors succeed even after they have purchased your solution. Offer training, resources, and ongoing support to ensure they maximize the benefits of your solution. By providing excellent customer success, you reinforce the notion that your solution is not just a want but an essential tool for their long-term success.


In conclusion, understanding the difference between wants and needs is crucial for successful marketing campaigns and business success. By aligning exhibitors' aspirations for sustainability with their core business objectives, you can transform wants into needs. Highlighting cost-saving benefits, emphasizing efficiency gains, addressing pain points, providing social proof, and offering personalized solutions are effective strategies to position your solution as something exhibitors genuinely need. Demonstrating expertise, credibility, and ongoing support also reinforces your solution's value. By addressing their needs, you can successfully sell anything at B2B events.

About The Author

David Betke has dedicated his career to helping brands that give back, make a bigger difference. His campaigns have helped save a 65 000-acre forest forever, reduced carbon emissions in a city measurably, and helped recruit three senior engineers during the height of a labor crisis. One even generated a 6000% return within six months and attracted a couple of great customers for life. David has been personally recognized with seven national marketing awards.