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Are Trade Show Events Worth Attending for those in the Business?

Trade Fair

How valuable are trade show exhibits for companies marketing their products and services?

Question: We’re trying to determine if trade shows are worth attending as an exhibitor. Can you give our company any input?

Obviously, if you’ve never attended a trade show as an exhibitor with your company, it can only be determined by attending one. My experience, though, has been that if done the right way, they can be immensely profitable over the long haul.

My Trade Show Experience with a Company

I can also tell you that a company that I worked for over a decade ago, whom I periodically worked trade shows for, decided, in 2007, to “save money,” and thus discontinued their participation in trade shows, and within three years, that company went out of business.

Trade Show ConventionNow, I am not naive enough to believe that is the only reason that company folded, because that was only part of the equation. There was an overall lack of direction of whom to market to and how much.

The owner of the company refused to retire, even though he was in his ‘70’s, but had no plan of succession, or any other plan for that matter. He was “old school” in his thinking, which is good on many levels, but not good on other levels, especially when his firm needed sales to service the debt and overhead the company carried.

The company was also heavily tied to the real estate industry, which began to collapse in 2006, preceding the stock market collapse two years later. So that industry, as most of us are aware, was in a state of decline. If the company had had a plan, they may have been able to shift or broaden their focus, as other companies in the same genre grew during the same time period. Of course, many others failed as well during the recession.

Your Marketing Force Depends on Different Factors

So, whether you attend a trade show or not as part of your marketing thrust will depend on a variety of factors, such as overall marketing and advertising plan and budget, how well your company’s marketing and advertising is currently working, and how focused your company is in its marketing and advertising.

Many companies spend a lot of money placing ads in magazines, newspapers, or trade journals that have no idea if the ads are bringing in business. The ad may have a general message about a product, and the types of magazines advertised in or the TV shows advertised on may focus on your target audience, they think. But do they really know if their ad dollars (or pounds or yen) are working?

Trade show boothIf you know which ads are pulling in which magazines or journals or newspapers or even what sections within those venues, if you have an offer in your advertisements, and a tracking code within the ad, when a potential client calls or emails, you’re able to determine what periodical or TV show or internet advertisement your clients are coming from, as well as which ads are working best.

If you are able, with offers or codes, to know what is working, then you can, over time, sharpen those messages and find out which ad message resonates the loudest with your clients. In this era, you can make quick determinations of what works online with sidebar ads in Google or Bing, often within a few days or a couple of weeks.

You can take your most successful ad messages and convert them to a trade show display and booth, and it is likely that, given the fact that you already know what works in advertising your company, that a trade show would be an excellent way to further boost your business success. So, with the thoughts here, hopefully I’ve inspired you either to exhibit at a trade show, or sharpen up your marketing thrust so that you can attend one next year!


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Barry K. Brown

Barry Brown has been in the Sign, Banner, Decal and Display Business for over 20 years. It isn't what he thought he'd do with his life, but he says he knows too much now to do anything else!

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