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Are Trade Shows Worth It?

Should You Still Consider Trade Shows in 2017?

“Are trade shows worth it?” is a common question in marketing planning meetings. In today’s highly digital age, a number of industry types seem all too ready to sound the death knell on trade shows. However, as the late author Mark Twain famously said, regarding rumors of his demise: “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

Yes! Trade show marketing is alive and well. While the investment in trade events must be balanced with the potential return on investment/ROI, the shows offer value for money far beyond the bottom line.

You will find that exhibiting at trade events provides benefits that are not as easily quantifiable as expenditures and profits. Bear this in mind, because it cannot be overstated: the value in face-to-face interaction is massive! So, what are the main benefits, you ask? Read on!


  • Trade events are a great way to meet many customers in the space of a few days. You will meet prospects that you may otherwise never get the opportunity to know.
  • Exhibiting at trade events leads to increased brand awareness.
  • You can generate sales lead. Your face and personality can be a powerful force in sealing the deal.
  • Trade events offer outstanding networking possibilities.
  • The events allow for industry awareness. What is new? What are the latest trends?
  • You can use trade events as a form of market research, or for product testing.
  • They are a manufacturing resource.
  • You will meet potential suppliers and get to establish a rapport.
  • You might get the chance to see what your competitors are doing/offering.
  • The potential press coverage could be valuable.


Obtaining the best value from trade show participation is contingent on your choosing the right ones to attend. As such:

  • Research industry shows on the Internet, and become familiar with their websites. Select shows that cater to your niche market.
  • Look at the list of vendors and attendees that is usually listed at a show’s website: Are the listed buyers in sync with your target purchasers, the ones you wish to meet?
  • Seek word of mouth recommendations about the best and most appropriate trade show.
  • Identify the stores, buyers and business owners with whom you want to develop a trade relationship, and find out which shows they attend.
  • Find out if your direct competitor will be exhibiting.

DEFINE “Are Trade Shows Worth It?”

Many companies attend trade shows without a clear set of objectives. Without going in with objectives any assessment of success is highly subjective. Marketing people may think a goldfish bowl full of cards is a great success. Are those cards good leads or simply people tossing in a card for the door prize drawing? Salespeople may “pocket” cards that are hot leads, to avoid the risk of such leads going to other reps. Some salespeople later call it a self-generated lead, and the trade show investment is robbed of due credit. Developing a sound trade show strategy, and carefully managing activity and results requires effort. With a few changes, you may find “yes” to be the answer to the question, “Are trade show worth it?”.


Is your company’s management struggling to justify the need for trade show participation? If so, you may want to take a close look at how your staff manages the booth space. Many times the booth staff are not chipper, and enthusiastically engaging floor traffic. Conversations with booth traffic may be idle chatter with the goal to simply get a business card. Before you give up on trade shows, consider applying the following thoughts your company’s trade show planning efforts.

  • Just as location is foremost in real estate, your booth design is paramount in convention trade shows. A great trade show display design is absolutely essential to attract visitors, and its usefulness in developing your brand cannot be over-emphasized.
  • The booth design must stand out! The best custom trade show display manufacturers can design and create an exciting and eye-catching trade show display that leaves an indelible impression on the attendees. The best companies can provide custom graphics and on-site show services for you.
  • You should get a booth as near to famous brand booths as possible. In that way, you can benefit from the football. You will probably have to reserve your booth space early, though.
  • If you cannot get a prime site in advance of the event, check to see if it might be possible to change the location of your booth at the start of the event. The organizers may have last-minute cancellations.
  • Like a good boy scout, “be prepared.” Make your marketing material polished and eye-catching. First impressions really do count!
  • Have clear-cut and specific objectives.
  • Have samples at the ready, and make sure the product you are offering can be delivered with the minimum of delay.
  • If you can, display an enticing “special offer” that is valid only for the duration of the event. It will attract interest, and the urgency inherent to the time-specific offer is likely to elicit on-the-spot purchases.
  • Be ever-present so as to engage with attendees over the course of the event. Take the initiative, and reach out to as many attendees as possible. Remember: trade events are not just for the exhibitors — buyers and business managers are on the look-out for emerging and/or trend-setting brands.
  • No man, or woman, is an island: interact with your fellow exhibitors. It is a form of networking that can prove beneficial. If appropriate, do share contacts. You will certainly broaden each other’s client base.
  • Make use of presentations. You will widen your knowledge and gain inspiration.
  • Exhibit only if participation will help you reach your business goals.

In the final analysis, no other form of direct marketing can take the place of face-to-face interaction between producer and procurer. The human element is priceless. It allows you to engage in real-time conversations, share product knowledge and receive instant feedback.

Additionally, you can make an emotional connection that is invaluable. That is not possible through virtual marketing. However, trade show marketing and inbound marketing do not have to be mutually exclusive. Indeed, you can use both to your advantage. Why not extend the reach of the show via social media? Twitter and LinkedIn are just two possibilities.

Trade shows have not remained static. They have evolved over time, and they continue to be dynamic and vital marketing resources. They are definitely worth your investment. Combine them with online engagement for the perfect formula for building and solidifying business relationships.

Ultimately, the value of participating in trade show events is incalculable. They are well worth the investment and, with your focused participation, the returns can be high.