Trade shows and exhibitions were once key calendar events, providing business owners with valuable opportunities to interact directly with new and existing clientele. There seems, however, to be a growing belief that the rise of digital technology is responsible for a decline in the exhibition industry, with business owners favouring digital platforms over exhibitions.
According to the Centre for Exhibition Industry Research (which holds the world’s largest collection of primary, exhibition-related research studies), this assumption couldn’t be far from the truth, however. Their research has revealed that the exhibition industry is set to grow by an estimated 2.7 percent during 2017 and 3 per cent in 2018. With these figures in mind it’s safe to suggest that trade shows and exhibitions are most definitely still worth attending, but how exactly are these events holding their own against the invasion of digital technology?
Well, as they always have done, trade events and exhibitions provide business owners with the opportunity to boost visibility and gain extra credibility within the industry. For small or large businesses alike, these events provide powerful platforms for business owners and staff to reach out to interested parties and help them to create a more established and reliable brand.
The people who attend trade shows tend to be particularly motivated and enthusiastic. They are there because they want to be there. They want to discover new products and services, and want to network directly with partners and prospects. Sure, in today’s digital world we can interact with them on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media platforms, but there’s just something satisfying about a good old-fashioned handshake when making a new connection.
Trade shows also enable businesses to get the lowdown on what their competitors are up to. Posing as a customer to find out prices and information is a great way to see how competitive your business deals and offers are. You can also observe booths that are attracting lots of interest and try to identify and learn from the way they have set their booths up and the tactics they are using.
Exhibitions and trade shows aren’t cheap and it’s the cost that puts a lot of businesses off attending, but with many suppliers/ customers under one roof at an event, you can often achieve in a day what would usually take a week if you were driving round the country, so it’s important to weigh everything up when deciding if trade shows and exhibitions are worthwhile for you.
The most successful exhibitors are those that recognise the value of exhibiting and attend with a clear list of goals in mind. With exhibitions, you really do get out what you put in, so whether you want to show-case new products, network, confirm sales or complete another type of business activity, the preparation is vital.
When you’re onsite, use your sales acumen to qualify and disqualify the attendees as they come through in order to get the most value from the day. Strategic placing of your booth near to ‘blue chip’ companies can also enhance your brand, develop trust with clients and boost your reputation so be sure to ask the organiser beforehand for a list of confirmed exhibitors (many events’ organisers display this information online). You can then check out the competition and your floor neighbours before the event.
Has digital technology won the battle over trade shows and exhibitions? It doesn’t appear so. Trade shows and exhibitions continue to have an important role to play in marketing and lead generation. These real-life events enable people to put a face to a brand and providing you do your research well and choose the right event for your company they can transform your business into a highly effective enterprise.