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The Value of Trade Shows, by Timothy Schneider, Publisher, Association News

March 8, 2014 Trade Events No Comments Email Email

Attending, exhibiting at or sponsoring a trade show or conference can involve significant expense. In the past year, our company participated in a total of 50 different trade shows and conferences.

When staff and travel expense is factored in, this level of live-event marketing can quickly dwarf the expense of the other forms of marketing our company utilizes.

In recent years, there’s been tremendous growth in the number of live-event marketing opportunities in practically every segment of the economy. There’s also been an increase in the number of appointment-only and reverse trade shows. In our experience, both as an-feb14-cvran exhibiting company and as an organizer of trade shows, we believe there’s a value in adding components to live events that help facilitate deal making. However, we also believe that the traditional tradeshow format provides value that no other format can.

Some trade-show and conference organizers are tempted to forego the traditional trade-show format because they figure they can pocket the money that otherwise would be spent on decorators, displays, materials and drayage. But that approach undermines these basic truths of live-event selling:

A trade-show exhibit allows potential customers to see and feel whatever the exhibitor is selling.Even if the product or service that’s offered is intangible, a trade-show display can often communicate more about the product or service in a shorter amount of time than the company’s representative.

A trade-show exhibit addresses the imbalance that often occurs between a buyer who’s ready to buy and the representative of the exhibiting company who may not be prepared to close the deal. Indeed, many exhibiting companies send junior-level representatives to work trade shows or hire contractors to staff their booths. In these instances, having a compelling display that tells the exhibiting company’s story is even more important.

A trade-show exhibit extends branding efforts that occur through other marketing channels and serves as a place where prospective customers can walk in to and be surrounded by the exhibitor’s brand. A well-designed trade-show display not only reflects the exhibitor’s role in the marketplace, it also allows prospective customers to interact with the brand in a tactile and memorable fashion.

According to all of the latest research, the explosive growth of social media and mobile technology is actually feeding the desire for face-to-face business networking. For companies looking to increase their live-marketing activity, it’s important not to cut corners and to understand the high value that a traditional trade show can provide. It’s also important for associations to make that case as they promote their own trade shows.

For additional insights on the future of conventions and trade shows, please see “Convention Trends 2014,” which begins on page 17. And to experience our company’s approach to live events, we invite you to join us at Meetings Quest in Mesa, Arizona, May 6–7. For more details, please see the ad on page 75, visit or call us toll-free at 877-577-3700.

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