Are Trade Shows Dead?

We all know the old expression; “you learn something new every day!”   Well, I think this one will be interesting to many readers.   According to a number of surveys that questioned marketers in the B2B environment on what marketing activities were very effective in providing leads, tradeshows, yes tradeshows, were very high on the list.  Marketing Profs’ survey, B2B Marketing Today found that 40.1% indicated that tradeshow were highly effective in generating leads. Google’s 2011 B2B Marketing Outlook found that 28% of marketing budgets are for tradeshows.

To be honest, my first reaction was, “who did they talk to come to this conclusion?”  But after taking a deep breath, I did some “research” of my own.

Consider the follow factors that have an impact on tradeshows:

1-      Tradeshows used to be a “get together”, a chance to catch up, exchange resumes for attendees and booth duty/sales/show management personal.  Granted there was real business being done for the show and lots of preparation for it, but in past years most shows were more oriented towards a “reunion atmosphere”.  With the economic down turn, it became an act of God to go to a show from the vendor side.  As for the attendees, it was basically the same situation.  So on the positive side, this major constraint has caused vendors to be very focused and provide real value, make important announcements, and thus shows have become a better value. On the attendee side, those showing up have specific purposes, like a real intent to get information, seeking specific product or service data, and a tradeshow is one way to accomplish this.  These forces have resulted in better qualified leads (potentially more leads even if the funnel is now smaller).

2-      While, the absolute number of tradeshows and attendance is on the decline, the ones remaining are either of better quality (content) or specific (like pharmaceutical)  or niche  industries (like needle pointing)  Thus companies are now utilizing tradeshows to marquee their company/brand and offerings for certain types of buyers.

3-      While digital marketing activities are becoming a bigger piece of the marketing budget, there still is some concern about their effectiveness, reluctance to change, and the lack of a track record with new metrics to help justify the related expenses.

4-      While the Internet has become a source of information about companies, products, and services, it also provides a great way to get the message out and a quick glimpse of what you might see about a company or products at an upcoming tradeshow.  Thus some of the potential savings from the traditional promotional activities can be put into the actual shows themselves.

5-      Lastly tradeshows still provide the best lead generation activity, the sales person!  Tradeshows provide in one place an opportunity to make numerous “sales calls” and start or build relationships.

A few key points:

A-     Do not always jump to new technologies just for technology sake.  Look at what is appropriate for your company and products and how it supports your overall marketing strategy.

B-      The issue regarding tradeshows is not about; “is this the correct amount to spend?”, but “how do tradeshows fit into our overall marketing mix and is there an integrated plan that tradeshows support and are supported for overall maximum impact?”

See you at the next tradeshow.

 

RHL 01/25/11

1 comment to Are Trade Shows Dead?

  • Jim Matorin

    Dick: Once again you are spot on. People are jumping the gun if they think all trade shows can go virtual.

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