Are tradeshows yesterday’s news or a great marketing tool?

Are tradeshows yesterday’s news or a great marketing tool?

With the rapid growth of new digital marketing mediums, tradeshows may seem like yesterday’s marketing strategy. But, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In an increasingly digital world, face-to-face interaction to access information, network, make decisions and close deals is more important than ever.

That makes sense when you consider how major corporate purchasing and partnering decisions are made today. First, research and information gathering starts on the web, and increasingly, final purchases are made online. Tradeshows are critical in the middle of business-to-business purchase and partnering decisions.

A recent survey, conducted by Skyline Exhibits, picked up eight factors that all were selected by more than 50% of the exhibitor respondents. The top three are:

  • Raise awareness of company and brand, selected by 88% of respondents
  • Leads from new buyers and prospects, 72%
  • Create and/or strengthen industry relationships or partnerships, 70%

It is interesting to note that the third highest ranked reason for exhibiting (create and/or strengthen industry relationships or partnerships) is not directly tied to prospects, clients, or brands, but to other companies at the show. This is an example of the long-term, strategic value of exhibiting at tradeshows and conventions. Here are some other facts.

  • 81% of tradeshow attendees have buying authority.  More than four out of five attendees are potential customers.  Source:  CEIR: The Spend Decision: Analyzing How Exhibits Fit Into The Overall Marketing Budget
  • 78% of tradeshow attendees travel more than 400 miles to attend an exhibition, which means you have a national audience at many tradeshows.  Source:  CEIR report ACRR 1153.12
  • 83% of exhibitors agreed that “Building, expanding brand awareness” is a high-priority marketing-related objective for tradeshows. The next two objectives tied at 63%: “New product promotions, launches” and “Brand awareness reinforcement.”  Source:  CEIR Changing Environment Study
  • The top three sales-related objectives at tradeshows are related to relationship management and engagement. Exhibitors want to meet with existing customers, key customers, and prospective customers.  Source:  CEIR Changing Environment Study
  • 67% of all attendees represent a new prospect and potential customer for exhibiting companies. This means tradeshows are a good source for new business prospects.  Source:  Exhibit Surveys, Inc.
  • 45% of attendees visit only one exhibition per year. You’ll be exposed to unique prospects you can’t reach at other tradeshows.   Source:  CEIR Report ACRR 1152.12
  • The #1 reason for attending (not exhibiting) tradeshows is to see new products.  92% of tradeshow attendees say they are looking for new products.  Source:  CEIR: The Role and Value of Face to Face
  • 46% of tradeshow attendees are in executive or upper management roles.  A lot high-level executives walking tradeshows have authority to make buying decisions.   Source:  CEIR: The Role and Value of Face to Face

Exhibiting at a tradeshow has numerous business benefits. Establishing a presence, whether big or small, is a great opportunity to meet new customers, reach out to existing customers, and build your organization’s reputation as an established brand. There’s no question that creating a tradeshow booth, training staff, and traveling to the event is a marketing expense. However, like most forms of marketing, with the right strategy, a tradeshow can be a very profitable choice.

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