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Are Trade Shows a Waste of Time and Resources?

Category : trade shows

90

Tradshow ROIIf the answer to any of the following questions is true, the tool below might be for you.

1. Have you ever wondered if trade shows are more of a drain on your organization than a benefit?
2. Do you start to sweat when the business leaders in your organization begin asking about the return on trade shows you attend?
3. Are you routinely asked to attend trade shows that you do not believe will add value?
4. Do you have people in your organization that are emotionally charged about attending a show?

Deciding which trade shows to attend can be a difficult decision when emotions enter the decision process. It seems that every show has a strong advocate trying to convince the organization to attend.

Statements such as, “all our customers will be there”, “the market will think we have disappeared if we don’t attend”, “the trade publications won’t think we are a serious player”, and “this is the largest show in our biggest market segment” are a reflection of feeling, not fact.

Conversely, with very tight budgets and demand to show ROI, deciding which show to attend can prove to be just as difficult.

While establishing better goals and metrics is a usual course of action to prove marketing return, trade shows can be particularly challenging.

To ensure the show success it is important to set up quantitative and qualitative metrics prior to deciding to exhibit. If you establish goals such as the number leads, number of customer meetings, and the number of brand impressions you can mitigate emotional decision making.

Driving to Trade Show ROI

To measure ROI it is important to fully capture the costs and benefits of a show. Below I propose some metrics that can be used to demonstrate the benefit of a show. Three metrics in particular are the calculation of Advertising Equivalence, cost savings from customer meetings, and monetizing brand impressions with speaking engagements.

I would recommend the development of a standard template that includes the elements listed below. It is also important to consider the timing of when you validate the results. I have found that it is important to check at least three times: Immediately, within a month or so and then again when deciding to attend the show again.

Trade Show Costs

Event Sponsorships/Exhibition

  1. Exhibit costs
  2. Speaker costs
  3. Sponsorships
  4. Individual registrations
  5. Other

Transportation

  1. Booth / Equipment Shipping costs
  2. Other Transportation

Travel

  1. Number of attendees x the average cost per day x the number of days

Promotional gifts/collateral

  1. Promotional gifts
  2. Printer materials
  3. Other promotional items (pre-show mailers, etc.)
  4. Graphics /Banners / Signs

Resource Costs (Time x salary)

  1. Attendees
  2. Creative services costs (agency, writers, designers, etc.)
  3. Show planner
  4. Marketing manager
  5. Product manager
  6. Other

Customer Meetings

  1. Meeting room
  2. Food and beverage
  3. Marketing materials
  4. Other

Show Benefits (Included both quantitative and qualitative measures):

Leads

  1. Number of leads
  2. Total revenue resulting from closed leads
  3. Increased Brand Awareness and Reputation
  4. Estimate impressions (total attendees at show that see sponsorship of a general session)
  5. Booth traffic impressions (Track for a period of time and then extrapolate)
  6. Brand survey results (taken at the booth)

Public Relations

  1. Press Release Coverage (Number picked up by trade publications)
  2. Speaking engagements (Number and survey results showing interest)
  3. Ad Equivalency (Cost for a full page advertisement / the amount of coverage space in an article)
  4. Press meetings/ new relationships developed

Customer Relationship Development and Savings

  1. Number of customer meetings
  2. Savings from travel to individual customers (number of meetings x number of staff x travel costs – total cost of travel to individual meetings)

Market Research Insight

  1. Number of research surveys completed
  2. Document and key learning from customers at the show
  3. Competitive information gathered

When using criteria such as the above, you should be able to add the total costs and the total benefits and ultimately be able to calculate the shows ROI (benefits-expenses/expense).

Hopefully, this provides some additional insight into the measurement of trade shows.

Do you see anything that is missing from this list?


Comments (90)

You can really maximize your ROI by choosing industry specific promotional products. Attendees will always remember a company who offers a unique gift over those who offer no gift or a very typical one.

Great article. I recently started blogging and I’m glad that I found your site.
I definitely have a love/hate relationship with tradeshows and have always felt that analyzing the post-show ROI is an almost impossible task.

Let’s face it, trade shows are ridiculously expensive. From I&D to lead retrieval to union labor to drayage to oversize printing, the markups in this industry are outrageous, but we continue to participate because these shows are the foremost opportunity to gauge the state of the industry.

Although the hard line ROIs for tradeshows are hard to determine, you can’t dismiss the non-monetary opportunities that they provide. This includes opportunities to observe trends, obtain honest customer feedback, network with synergistic partners and keep your ears open at all times (especially true if you share a lunch table with strangers.)
Now if we could just do something about the cost of drayage…

Gail Levy
http://www.tabletkiosk.blogspot.com

I agree that promotional items can be very effective in accomplishing tradeshow goals. For example, using a pre-show mailing to indicate that the keynote speaker will be signing books at your booth during a certain time can certainly lead to more booth traffic. Alternatively, providing simple daily needs can be just as effective. Offering premium coffee, assuming the show decorator will allow it, can also be effective.

I certainly agree that there are qualitative benefits to be gained when attending shows. I guess the question to ask first is could you simply attend the show, instead of exhibiting and receive the same benefit without all the cost. I would argue that you could even learn more, without an exhibit, as there would be less distraction from exhibit hours, I&D, etc.

Having said that, I agree that tradeshows are an important marketing tactic to be used when appropriate and measured carefully to ensure you are optimizing the experience.

I believe it is important to establish specific goals, even those goals are qualitative, and the measure those goals to ensure success.

Oh, BTW – I could agree more about the Drayage costs…

Perhaps we can start some dialog about the best ways people have found to avoid them.

What a fantastic article to make people think about the benefits of exhibiting. I do agree that promotional items can lend a hand in the success – I have seen when a client properly markets their promotional items by way of pre-show marketing it really helps benefit booth traffic. There are several marketing tips that I have seen that work well for
Promotional Items & Marketing

The rising costs of drayage would be a great topic of discussion, it is tough for the smaller companies that want to begin marketing via trade shows to actually get over the hurdle of the exhibiting costs, let alone the cost of drayage.

Tom-

Another benefit is business development. Large trade shows that everyone (truly) attends are great opportunities to meet with partners. This can be more cost effective than taking several separate trips.

I will probably get beat up for saying this, but I personally do not see the value of tradeshow giveaways. Yes they are great for pulling in booth traffic, but are they pulling in potential customers or attendees looking for swag to take back home to the kids. There are tons of people who attend tradeshows looking for free goodies who could care less about the products you showing.

The exception to this is to have a targeted giveaway that you provide to those you can identify as real potential leads.

At the end of the day, the number of qualified leads you get is worth a lot a heck of a lot more than booth traffic you attracted because of a free giveaway.

Gail Levy
http://www.tabletkiosk.blogspot.com

Great overview. But I didn’t see two items:
1. Training salespeople how to sell and qualify prospects at the show (Hill Group).
2. The types of lead acquisition system to use at the show to gain the most qualified leads.
The Sales Lead Management Association has articles on its site about trade show training. One of its advertisers is NewLeads the lead acquisition company.
With proper training salespeople can quadruple the number of qualified leads. With a superior inquiry acquisition system you can get amazing information about the people who inquire. This article should also be on the SLMA web site.

[...] 11, 2008 Tom Reynor su Lonely Marketer “Are Trade Shows a Waste of Time and [...]

I agree with Gail. Having a great booth giveaway can draw a lot of traffic, but is it the right traffic? No wonder Sales only follows up on 10% of trade show leads (SiriusDecisions). They know that a lot of the names that come back from a show are just the guy who wanted the cool giveaway and have no interest in your product.

A better tactic would be to attend a targeted trade show where you know the attending companies are the right fit. Then you have a starting point from which to find the right decision maker in those companies. We are talking a lot about this at http://www.theb2blead.com, if you want to check us out sometime.

Trade shows – a big subject and one that I am struggling with at the moment. I have had a number of new projects recently with clients that used them none of whom could justify them in terms of directly attributable sales.

By using a monitoring stystenm like those that I build into my sales process management tool Ascent I can see potential if execution were improved in some areas, but its still borderline.

Targeted shows only mean that visitors are a rough fit, but rarely can you be sure they influence on purchasing to the extent that you need. The give-aways is a red herring as has been pointed out – you get increased visits, but no change in sales – but generally the numbers just don’t work.

If your KPIs are PR and feelgood factor – although this is hard to measure – you might get closer to making a case, but the trouble with that route is that you have to have a stand with real “Wow!” factor and that just pushes up the investment. There is often a better ROI from other initiatives.

If you are a new business looking for exposure or a mailing list, there could be a case for trade shows as a part of an integrated campaign, but, again you have to make a splash and few small businesses have deep enough pockets.

There’s also a big difference between BtoB and public trade shows and what you can do with each of them.

In my experience, trade shows can be a huge waste of money, but they can also provide serious benefits, if approached strategically.

Spending tons of money on flashy booths and giveaways is for the giants…a smaller company may get huge benefits building relationships with potential partners (business development, as mentioned above), walking the floor and spreading the word about recent success stories, handing out business cards….This old-fashioned word of mouth marketing can pay off big dividends for small- and medium-sized firms at trade shows…without breaking the bank!

Every tool to promote your products and grow your brand is a great tool if you can afford it . Id you can’t is not. I think is that simple.

Every tool to promote your products and grow your brand is a great tool if you can afford it . If you can’t,then is not. I think is that simple.

I think John’s comment comes close to the right approach for a small organisation – don’t take a stand, walk the aisles. But it doesn’t change my view that its all about the “big idea”. It doesn’t have to be large scale or particularly expensive to execute, but unfortunately small businesses rarely combine the idea generation and the standard of execution required to make it wow!

Having worked in marketing for many a start-up, I have had to come up with my share of “big ideas” to drive booth traffic without breaking the bank. The latest was a booth theme of Let’s Make a Deal, you know that game show from the 70′s where contestants dressed in costume. We definitely drew a crowd with Fred and Wilma Flintstone walking the show floor. For a good laugh, you can see pictures here: http://www.theb2blead.com/b2b-marketing-ideas/marketing-wtf-playing-dress-up-is-not-just-for-halloween/

The biggest issue here in Europe are unmotivated or badly trained sales staff.

Invest in it, special training, procedures and so on. Then, almost any trade show becomes interesting.

Also here in Europe, a trade show is more and more seen as an informal contact moment with existing clients.

Best regards,

GL

The Netherlands
http://www.lening-geld-lenen.nl/

[...] As a marketer with limited resources, I am always tweaking my programs and trimming the fat or trashing completely anything that isn’t helping to generate revenue. For a small company, impressions and brand awareness mean basically nothing to me. My job is lead gen, period. For me, events and trade shows have been one of those areas where I do get some good leads but the ROI often does not justify the expense. One of my favorite blogs, The Lonely Marketer, was discussing this topic in the post Are Trade Shows a Waste of Time and Resources. [...]

I’ve had this article bookmarked for awhile, as I contemplated your points. In my previous life, I used to provide counsel on conferences from a PR perspective. You raise some good points; however, I disagree with this point –
“Ad Equivalency (Cost for a full page advertisement / the amount of coverage space in an article).”

I’m not a big fan of this as there are too many ways to calculate this. And sometimes, a smaller article will drive more traffic to your website than a well-known pub, hence skewing the actual value of that coverage.

Beyond PR, I do believe that tradeshows play important role in one’s marketing mix. From my company’s perspective, we see more organizers adding online components, such as webcasting keynotes/panels live, recording sessions and making them available for download post-show, virtual tradeshow, and more. (Note: my company does webcasting).

For those unable to bring a larger team or attend due to other conflicts, online availability raises another set of criteria to consider: Reduction of travel, lodging, food and staffing costs; Number and quality of leads at the show and via online; Amount of closed business from face-to-face online leads; and more.

I’m curious to know what you think.

Best,
Cece
http://www.ON24.com

I completely agree that using Ad Equivalence is a very subjective measure. The point I was trying to convey is that Ad Equivalence can be used to help justify and quantify the value of a show. At a minimum you can begin to compare one show against another.

Cece makes a good point; qualitative measures should be considered as well. A really powerful article that drives web traffic can provide more benefit than the show itself. I guess that should be added as a #5 in my list of PR metrics.

However, the question still remains. Is that article, and the leads it generates, worth the cost of attending the show? I would argue that without consistent measurement, regardless of what criteria you specifically use, creates the potential to make a show become a waste of time and resources.

With regards to the ongoing trend towards more online trade show components, I certainly see the ability to increase revenue and reduce expenses. If an online component can provide broader reach, of say a keynote speech, it seems logical that more leads could be generated while reducing the overall cost.

I will admit that I have not had much experience with this “mixed” show approach and would be interested in any hard facts about the benefits anyone has seen.

As an online show can be a series of digitized sessions to a full blown “virtual tradeshow,” I think that we’ll see more research on this.

For example, we took a look at webcasts produced by B2B publishers on our platform last year. We found that a single webcast provided an average ROI of $35 per registrant and $63 per attendee. Attendees spent an average of 40 minutes viewing webcast content. This is based on an average of $20,000 to market and produce a webcast (may vary depending on costs).

Though we looked at the value of single events – not a series, I think that this does provide a snap shot to the potential value of a virtual trade show.

I feel the trade show results should be carefully tracked to determine if it pays for itself.

If it does, it’s a great way to get additional customers. A lot of thought though, has to go into capturing the max. number of customers during the trade show days.

Flint

[...] Are Trade Shows a Waste of Time and Resources? [...]

If people in B2B are looking for a solution or there is a real need, their first reaction is to investigate the Internet.
This is more practical, more cost effective and more timely than going to a trade show.
So your leads are or have already been on your website.
The search engines have turned the Internet into a 24 x 7 worldwide trade show.
Instead of hoping people will find you on a trade show, keep the costs low and invest in a website visitor company revealing service, as for example LEADSExplorer. This service will generate leads every day, not just during trade shows.
Find your on your website

Tracking leads is a very good thing. I would argue that you should use marketing tactics like everything else in life: In moderation.

Although John’s post appears to be a shameless product plug, he does bring up a good point. You cannot ignore the cost benefits of modifying a more traditional marketing approach with the use of electronic marketing methods. The art of marketing is to recognize which tactic to use when. Without choosing appropriate measures, and then using those measures to make decisions it is much more difficult to optimize your results.

While other marketing channels might be better for specific industries, I think trade shows serve as another opportunity to generate a leads for your company. Some customers might prefer Googling, others prefer word-of-mouth, while others may rely on trade shows — so it’s always swell to be in front of hot prospects wherever they may be.

As with everything in business, I think it takes a lot of testing and experimentation — developed over years — to really know what works best and what doesn’t work too well to generate your company’s leads.

Nice post. The surveys still show that most B2B companies consider trade shows a very important part of their marketing mix. Unfortunately most totally blow their trade show opportunities and have little to show for it. I wrote a post last year on Trade Show Basics that is very supportive of your post.

Trade shows can provide an extraordinary ROI if properly planned and executed.

I Don’t Want to Do That Trade Show, No Matter What You Say…

I can’t remember the last event I sponsored (at any company) that offered me a positive return on our investment. The only one I can really think of was at a previous employer … the salesperson had created an opportunity in Salesforce.com after an e…

Hi,
I really enjoyed the article, it and all the comments are very helpful. I recently exibited at a very small trade show and just recently had some training. They showed us how to qualify your customers. I agreed most of the time, but there again, you have to look at each individual. Some people don’t have a need for what you have, but know someone who does. Even later on they may recall your product in a totally different conversation. So to dismiss someone who is just looking at the time could mean a missed sale later on, especially if they remember how you treated them. I’m trying to start small and slow to learn the correct way to deal with it.

I think everyone has relevant points. The truth is as the market place becomes more and more competitive with cheap goods from the Far East you have to exhibit at exhibitions. As always how much you’re prepared to spend and how creative you’re prepared to be can mean the world between getting 100 sales leads to 100,000 leads. What more and more companies are doing is using interactive kiosks so potential customers are not having to queue to speak to a representative. They can browse products and services via these kiosks and also book appointments with rep’s and leave there contact details. This way no potential sales leads are lost even if they don’t equate to sales.

trade shows are helpful. the exposure you get is worth it.

my experience as visitors on some trade show, it more exposed or give benefit for large trader. small trader just behind on them, even occasionaly it can promote small trader too.

If you’ve got a new product and want to create some buzz, trade shows can be a great platform to showcase your stuff. But your right, its all about the ROI. I’d probably explore some other advertising means before jumping for the registration form…

One can certainly pick up some good, bright, innovative ideas and perhaps meet potential business partners. Although same of the weary pitches can make you cringe all too easily..

I think that trade shows are often a huge throw away, but if you approach it the right way, it should be good. Been there couple of times myself and handle it in the right way, so its good for me. Kind Regards, Aislin

It’s really dependent upon the show and the person attending. I have been to shows that I found to be a complete waste, while friends found them very useful and vise versa.

I agree trade shows are worth the resources when you’ve got enough devotion to it and present yourself in a decent manner.

Have to admit that trade shows are becoming more and more a prestige thing, showing off against your competitors and reducing quality of the actual trade show.

In my experience, trade shows can be a huge waste of money, but they can also provide serious benefits, if approached strategically.

Spending tons of money on flashy booths and giveaways is for the giants…a smaller company may get huge benefits building relationships with potential partners (business development, as mentioned above), walking the floor and spreading the word about recent success stories, handing out business cards….This old-fashioned word of mouth marketing can pay off big dividends for small- and medium-sized firms at trade shows…without breaking the bank!

-Jeff

Very nice article about the ups and downs of trade shows. Still, carefully consider which shows to attend and which not.

very interesting article. Some good points made by most that have commented here.

A company in IT security on InfoSec gathered 120 leads (after cleaning out the known projects and the non suited “contacts”) on about 12,000 visitors.
The cost of the trade show was $100,000.
That’s about $833 / raw lead.

On their website they have about 400 visitors / day. About 60 companies / day can be identified using a web service. This low number is mainly due to the fact as they have many non-company visitors because of their stock market listing (retail investors).
Typically about 50% can be qualified as raw based upon the visiting data. Thus number of raw leads / day = 30.

Thus their website generates about the same number of raw leads every 4 days.

So why spending the money on a trade show?
Just for the word of mouth?
Just for the presence?

It’s amazing how many comments this topic has drawn. My two cents is that trade shows can be a waste of money IF DONE WRONG or a very cost-effective (but relatively expensive) form of direct face-to-face marketing IF DONE RIGHT. Like any type of marketing, there will be those that work hard and smart and who’s efforts pay off, and those that just show up, and then wonder why the trade show didn’t “pay off”. I just read another blog about trade show giveaways and one person commented that their company gave away steel luggage tags with their company name on them as their trade show giveaway. The problem was that when a person slid their business card in, it covered up the company logo, and the steel tags set off metal detectors! Lesson? Marketing only “pays off” if you do it right! BTW, for trade shows, that includes pre-show marketing, having effective trade show displays that pull people into your booth at the trade show, and post trade show follow up. Well, I suppose I’ve said more than my two cents…

The numerous comments on this subject suggest that there is a wide rsnge of expereicnces for different companies at different trade shows. While many may be a totasl waster for many companies, just one good show can bring that golden, long-term deep-pocketed prospect.

At the end of the day, trade shows and roulette are close cousins.

I personally believe in tradeshows. But the success and returns in participating in a tradeshow is highly dependent on the organizers. Without proper and experienced ones, it’ll be a waste of both time and money.

Well.. Trade shows are definitely not a waste of time. If your company is not reputable, you can bring your company up by showing what you have. Where as those reputable companies can market all those new technologies and products they have and see how the market reacts to it. If there’s not enough experience, there’s always event planners.

Tradeshow is like every once in a year and I don’t see why it is wasting time..It is the time, they introduce themselves to the market..

Very keep up informative information about trade show, keep up the good work

As Pinacle said, if done wrongly, tradeshows can really cost you dearly. In fact, before you even consider a tradeshow, you’ve got to assess the potential damage it can do, before you go ahead.

I think trade shows are really interesting to go because I get exposed to all kinda of companies/organizations under one roof. So, I don’t think its a waste of time and resources for those companies/organizations

Personally, i think its depends on the value that each lead to be generated from the tradeshows that matters. Businesses will have to weight the cost and efforts that will be put into participating in the show as well as the value of returns. There are other ways to generate leads as well and it may not be neccessary for businesses to “feel bad” about skipping one or two. I am sure customers will prefer you to keep them updated of your products rather than a one-off BIG bang in a tradeshow :)

I think it also depends on the quality of the turnout.
Obviously you have to make sure the people attending are your target market and not just no hopers.

I enjoy going to trade shows and conventions; I find that the only positive for business aspects are the contacts I create, which is worth it.

This is all good discussion;anything that makes a company at least think about its efforts more deeply is likely to help. But I’m of the mindset that attempts to “quantify” soft benefits are doomed to failure–but that does NOT mean soft benefits are less important or dispensable. We can get so caught up in our ROI and “monetizing” talk that we lose sight of a whole different level of value from trade shows–not just strengthened relationships, but professional pride and camaraderie.

In case you’re interested, here’s a recent blog post on the subject:
Click Here

Nice post. Obviously, I have an opinion, too, and as a marketer for an enterprise ISV, we have to include technical demo costs (integration, developer, sales engineer, at a minimum), which I didnt see in your list. Yet all it takes is one deal to close to cost justify the event from a pure economic perspective.
Please read my post for a more details http://davidcastroflorida.blogspot.com/2008/05/trade-shows-can-work.html

I think that trade shows are a big waste of time because the money you spend on that would see a much better result online(depending on the industry that is). I mean how many people can you possibly get to come to your booth at a trade show in a day? no more than a few hundred I would think?

Here is my theory with regards to trade shows.

Any product/service of any merit will become known without the pass to check in, the parking that is not always covered, depending on your employer, you peruse and somehow an entire afternoon is simply wasted.

Todays market is now

Instant gratification

I want something, I research it, I buy it.. simple

Saving time has always saved money, yet trade shows no longer fit that description.

Should I use ie instead of mozilla no

Should I pay someone instead of using glyphius

again, no

It has to be fast, which saves money

Trade shows no longer fit that bill

I am very much amazed on how many exhibitors have comments on this article. the best way to make sure that trade shows are not awaist of time is to do pre-show marketing and follow up on the leads you get from the show. I think most exhibitors are just attending shows with teh wrong atitude. No one going to just come up to you at any trade show just beacuse your booth is there. First thing its to have a pre show plan, mailers e-mails etc. Second make sure your booth have a theme ( hint somthing that relates to your product as well as preshow marketing ) Last but not least You are not at the show for sales you are there for leads that eventually turn to sales.

My parents own a small retail store, and are constantly going to trade shows. My mother swears that they are vitally important to go to; my father says they are a complete waste of time, money and effort. I’m going to email them a link to your post for them to consider between now and the next time they commit to a trade show! Thanks for this post!

[...] this postby Tom Teynor, The Lonely Marketer Blog, he discusses the value of tradeshows and how to measure [...]

The brand recognition from appearing at the 4 major trade shows in your industry was significant. At some of the shows, we sold product from our booth and would show an immediate profit from the booth sales. Where we used the shows to get leads, these leads were no better than othgers and maybe worse as the guiy that stpped by our booth also stopped by 50 others booths and we became just a number.

[...] convincing business leaders in your organization to pay for it is a difficult process. Those at The Lonely Marketer ask the question: “Are Trade Shows a Waste of Time and [...]

An excellent breakdown of the real costs involved in trade shows.

I just believe if done right, it doesn’t have to cost a lot for small startups. I’m sorry, but I believe there’s no substitute for face to face marketing. Yes, trade shows are a necessary evil but it can make or break a small company.

I would say if done wrong trade shows can be a waste of time and money. If done correct using professional help you can surley see some great returns. Promotional product should not be some random items giv-aways. It should be geared toward the client product. Eample do not give-away an I pod when your products are car rims

Great overview of pro’s and con’s for attending trade shows. In this case there just isn’t a general answer. I dissension is to be made based upon the branch, the company and the specific show that is profitable for you to attend.

[...] Are Trade Shows a Waste of Time and Resources?  [...]

I feel trade shows are important. If you are holding a stall then it is good as it makes you get noticed and if you are attending then it helps you to learn the new advancement in your field.

Here in Holland trade shows are always a big happening. Newspapers and televisionprograms pay quit alot of attention to them.

Great post. Trade shows will remain a very important part of the marketing mix. You will have to capture the costs versus benefits though as this is upmost important to calculate Return on Investment.

I agree ROI can be increased by choosing industry specific promotional products. And Tom Teynor really good presentation about pro’s and con’s in attending trade shows…

This is a great topic! I do not think there is a single answer that works across industries. I’m in defense aerospace and have a very small number of large customers, that we know very well. It would seem that there would be no reason for my company to attend trade shows, as there are no other customers for us to sell too. However…(heh) attending trade shows allows us to interface with our customer’s customers, which is very powerful for our brand.

One thing about trade shows that cannot be denied (as several previous posts have highlighted) is that you get out of it what you put into it. It is not about swag, it is about proper training of tradeshow personnel, ensuring that they have the proper tools for success, and expedient post-show follow-up. Even a simple “thank you” card is very powerful.

I always disliked trade shows as it’s nearly impossible to truly measure your ROI. I also noticed that my business always received a ridiculous amount of post trade show solicitations. It was almost as if some of the trade show sponsors were selling info to marketing companies as soon as the show ended.

I think that – above and beyond sales contact – the real benefit of the tradeshow can be for lead generation and prospect work – especially in the IT and technology marketing area. Think about the effort you can put in before the show communicating about your presence with prospects (even identifying leads and booking appointments at the show) – and then afterwards you should have some great content to communicate with everyone that wasn’t there (so many buyers don’t take the time to go to shows these days, but still value your write-up or views on what was important).

Trade shows can’t be a waste of time and resources when it has a specific target audience. Trade shows provide a great opportunity for establishing new network of same-minded individuals in the industry. Just make sure that you have the contact info of the people you meet during trade shows.

You would hope these questions are obvious but apparently not. It is terrible when anyone spends resources on any marketing program that doesn’t provide results.

I have attended many trade shows over the years and have built a network of friends and associates that will last a lifetime. Yes, attending a trade show can get mundane and boring if you go with the wrong motives. However, approach it will the adventure of meeting new connections and possibly stumbling upon the next great promotional product and your attitude and experience will grow in leaps and bounds.

I think trade shows can be important to business, but I think it also depends on the industry. If you can get good press then they are worth it.

First off let me say that this a very good post! My opinions stays the sames on trade shows, I never liked them for some reason; Im thinking its just the way I run things and its just not a suitable thing for me. Im glad other people find them fun or useful!

Great post! If done wrong trade shows are a waste of time and money. If done right, using professional help, a company can see great returns. Promotional product should not be some random giveaways. Gear it towards the client product. Thanks!

I feel like trade shows are very beneficial, you just have to be selective when it comes to picking the ones to attend. At trade shows, you meet people in the industry and this is where business relationships can begin. Thanks for the article, I enjoyed reading both the pros and the cons.

This is a great overview of the pros and cons… honestly, I think all kinds of corporate events, industry trade shows or anywhere that you’ll be able to make connections and reach prospective customers is a great opportunity.

I think that trade shows are a big waste of time because the money you spend on that would see a much better result online(depending on the industry that is). I mean how many people can you possibly get to come to your booth at a trade show in a day? no more than a few hundred I would think?

I disagree with you. I like trade shows very very much and display my products at them all the time.

I love attending wedding trade shows and conventions and find that I meet many business contacts through this medium. The cost needn’t be too high if you put your mind to it.

It is true that at the end of the day, it will come down to ROI. Doing a cost and benefit analysis would certainly help to project if joining trade shows would be beneficial to the business or entity. But one thing that I think that must also be given importance as well is the possibility of negative publicity which could happen on the day itself and wasn’t given precaution prior to joining the show. It happens.

In Trade Shows , We also get latest information about the things as well as we can also share our view with other and also gain latest and advance knowledge about the technology..

ya, it waste our time but also provide information about new ideas ..

Trade shows becomes a waste of time and resources only if the cost surpassed the benefits of joining.

From a vendor’s perspective tradeshows often break even. They’re a greta place to get away from HQ or home and have an excuse to go work and play during the same week – and in a different city – but at the end of the day vendors usually do not make much form exhibiting.

From a customer’s perspective, tradeshows can be a greta place to meet other colleagues and potential partners or affiliates. After all, no amount of technology (yet) can replace that good ‘ol face to face.

this is a wonderful tool for evaluating the worth of doing a trade show. the break-down of all the expenses and potential benefits is very comprehensive. it’s important to really think about statements like this one -“this is the largest show in our biggest market segment”. larger usually means more expensive, and doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to land better or bigger clients. breaking down all of this information is vital in determining whether or not trade shows are worth your time. i urge anyone to use this tool when deciding to go to a show or not.

A great way to get traffic to your booth at a trade show is to send out a mailer prior to the show if you are able to get the attendee list. For example send out a piece of a puzzle and let your audience know that they will get the rest of the puzzle when they stop by your booth. It creates interest. The suggestions in this article were great. You need to offer something that is unique

Well in the age of the internet the shows might be overdone, i don’t even visit many other shows anymore because they have nothing to add over the internet. There are no premieres anymore, just show of what most people already knew.