The trade show used to be the annual, must-go trade gathering. It was the vehicle where deals were struck, contracts signed, order books filled and contacts made. But some experts suggest that the trade show is done, a defunct relic from a bygone era.
Or is it?
With premium event venues from London to Edinburgh will full event calendars and the news that the NEC Birmingham is set to expand its footprint in the coming years, trade shows and similar events are still attracting attendees and exhibitors. So what’s the real picture? Are trade shows worth the expense or not? Are they an investment that reaps long term rewards?
What’s the problem?
In short, the internet and the ways in which it has changed the way we live, work and do business. With the potential to reach customers any day, any time and any place, the trade show, it could be argued, has had its day.
And yet, the full event calendars at event venues and centres across the UK kicks ‘the trade show is dead’ argument out of the arena;
• 75% of people who responded to a survey felt positive about the future of trade shows.
• 68% of professionals value face-to-face networking over online means.
What the trade show delivers!
With these stats ringing in our ears, what are the reasons why trade shows are still work attending as both exhibitor and attendee?
#1 Build relationships
If the above statistics speak for more professionals across most industries, then the trade show is still the place to start, grow and maintain relationships, important in both B2B and B2C sectors.
In this anonymous digital age, isn’t it nice to put a face to a name?
#2 Dovetail with your online audience
For too long, we have been presented with offline and online marketing as two competing areas. However, it is clear that one supports the other.
Get it right, and your pre-trade show social media campaign will bring people to your stand. Likewise, with email still being the popular tool for communication, swelling your email contact list should be top of your trade show agenda. With experienced promotional staff ready to make every conversation count, surely the trade show is a winner?
#3 Increase brand awareness
Getting noticed online is tough, isn’t it? With so many competitors and competing content, being different is hard to do. It doesn’t always deliver the quick results that we are led to believe comes with online marketing unless that is, you have the money to throw at a big online campaign.
At the right trade show (and it’s important you choose the right one), you can significantly increase brand exposure and awareness. No business can afford to turn that down.
#4 Collect valuable data
There is a thing called ‘social listening’ when, as part of your online marketing and buzz, you take notice of what people are saying (and what they are not saying or doing).
The trade show offers an opportunity to do that in real life, in real time. What issues are affecting your customers now? What issues and challenges, as well as opportunities, can they see on the horizon? What do they want to see more of and what do they want to see from you?
Data capture staff collect vital information that has value, the perfect team for your next trade show.
#5 Harness the community feel of a trade show
Not everything in business has to be dog-eat-dog. There is a community feel at most trade shows and so you just may find that you win new contracts and clients from referrals you receive from the team on the stand next door…
The right trade show is worth its weight in gold, especially if you have a strategy in place for marketing your brand pre, during and post-trade show. And the best promotional staff on your stand, of course.