Are trade shows still worthwhile? Can we afford the time and money it takes to visit or exhibit? Is the ROI measured and justified? Or, can we really now find everything we need, including new customers and business relationships on the internet?

Are trade shows in decline?

Up until the phenomenal explosion of web marketing, trade shows were considered a valued source for new suppliers, contacts and customers. Many businesses find they still have an important role to play in their marketing strategy and lead generation.

With resources being continually stretched though, do businesses really want to spend the time and investment in visiting or exhibiting at a trade show?

Visitor or exhibitor?

As a visitor you might find some new suppliers, but if that is your present need, wouldn’t you just ask Google? You might find exhibition offers up for grabs if they can pin you down on the day, but in the current climate customers may have the upper hand in negotiating deals. In fact, would it be fair to say that now we have the world at our fingers tips and often in our pockets, can’t most information, be found at the touch of a button?

For exhibitors to achieve a healthy and targeted ROI they should maybe ask some questions. Who is attending, do they specifically match the customer profile? What are the objectives of attending and can those objectives be met elsewhere? What are you selling? Is it event driven or something most customers will need? If the former, will anyone really want to know about you if the event hasn’t happened..? What is the level of competition attending? Can you compete at the trade show or will they dominate? Are you going just because the competition is there? What are the figures? Can you afford to pay for the stand, be a few men down for a day or two, travel expenses? Have you got the time and will you follow up leads? The list goes on, but four necessities are; know your objectives, know your audience, measure your ROI and follow up leads.

Great people beat great stands

After all those questions have been satisfactorily answered and you are designing your stand with never been done before special effects and theatrics, think of the human element first. Often the most basic 9m sq shell scheme stand with a clear, consistent message can achieve greatness if the right people are manning it. After-all haven’t visitors agreed to be sold to by simply entering the trade show? Stepping away from the comfort zone of your stand and engaging with visitors who walk past, even if it’s just to ask about the weather outside, will pay dividends.

Bright or bleak future?

So does opinion seem to be changing about the value to be gained from exhibitions and trade shows? Surely the right face to face interaction is the best way to develop business and personal relationships, or in twenty year’s time will world domination by social media be complete..?

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