This piece is a must read for anyone who thinks trade shows is an old-school/out-dated marketing strategy. Trade shows will ALWAYS be a vital part of any marketing plans. This is the most authentic way of getting in front of your customers.
Trade Shows: An Essential Part of Your Marketing Strategy
Trade Shows are here to stay. Why? Because we humans thrive on connection.
There’s been some recent doom and gloom about the future of the trade show industry. Well, I'm not buying it. The trade show is far from dead. People are just spending more selectively.
Face-to-face marketing is not going away. Ever. We have the Internet, but the telephone isn’t going away. For that matter, we have the telephone, but we’re still getting together to talk in person.
Think back to the Presidential Inauguration. Was there any particular reason why people had to stand outside in 20-degree temperatures (10-below with the wind chill) for hours and hours to see Mr. Obama be sworn in? The crowds were so deep that many were freezing and three-quarters of a mile away from the stage watching details a JumboTron.
Why didn’t all 2 million of those people just stay and watch in the comfort of their living rooms?
Because we have to be with each other. That is fundamentally who we are, and that’s not going to change. It doesn’t matter how sophisticated our technology gets. We now have “telepresence” where you can be talking to someone halfway around the world, and it’s so real you could seemingly reach out and touch one another.
But it’s not real.
It’s close enough to save a lot of money and reduce a carbon footprint. Companies should absolutely utilize technology to avoid spending money on travel just to have a two-hour meeting only to get on a plane and fly all the way back. There is a host of compelling reasons for that. But people are still going to congregate on the National Mall in D.C., when there’s a defining moment in history.
SOCIAL BEINGS THRIVE ON CONNECTION
We are social creatures, and we absolutely thrive on connection. So, to think for a minute that the trade show is going to go away … because it’s being supplanted by what? By blogs?
Virtual parties are not replacing dinner parties. We still want the contact.
Yes, industry studies show some real, tangible trade show shrinkage. But that’s more about people wising up and removing redundancy from the system.
THE NUMBERS ARE REAL, BUT SO ARE THE PEOPLE
At CES this past year, there was a reported 25 percent attrition rate, which doesn’t surprise me given the economy. But it was still a huge show with people waiting in cab lines for an hour to get back to their hotels. My clients may have gone from 10 trade shows a year to four trade shows a year. But they were simply being more selective. They picked the four trade shows that made the most sense for them. But that reduction made intelligent marketing all the more important.
Yes, the big, bloated trade shows are disappearing. But we are fundamentally social beings and we like to transact business that way. It’s just about being more intelligent about how we do it. You’re not going to go to every single trade show that has even remotely anything to do with your business and invest in a 50×50 booth with as big a booth staff as possible. That’s going to break you.
It becomes about making cuts with a scalpel instead of a hatchet: Pick the right trade shows. Populate the booth with the right people. Do the right kind of pre-show marketing and the right kind of presentation to guarantee that ROI will be huge. Just be smart about your investment because trade shows are not going anywhere. We’re never going to stop wanting to meet each other.
My philosophy on this matter and my business are inextricably linked. I don’t believe for a minute that this industry is over. If I did, I’d be jumping ship and finding something else. There are plenty of other things that I could do.
We’re always going to want to connect—no matter how sophisticated we get. I really believe that. I’ve been in the trade show business for 25 years. I’ve seen it go through this incredible cycle—the ebb and flow—but when it comes down to it, people want to see one another.
A colleague reminded me recently that there are very few opportunities to get so many potential customers in one place at one time the way you do at a trade show. That person said: “I don’t care what people say about trade shows being less popular than they were. There is still no better way to do this. The right people are at the trade show. You’re not going to get that kind of situation anywhere else.
“What you have to do then is make sure there’s a compelling reason for them to come and visit you. It’s about something going on in the booth. Sure, it’s about having a good story and a good product, but it’s also about getting people to want to visit.”
Learn more about the author, Ken Newman.
Comment on this article
Posted by Janet Pomeroy, San Francisco, California |
Aug 30, 2009
- trade shows
- trade show presenter
- qualified leads
- booth traffic