As with almost every aspect of business, the cost of trade shows has recently come under the microscope. After taking a break from trade shows in 2020, many professionals wonder, “is exhibiting at trade shows worth the time, effort, and financial investment?” The simple answer is this: if it was worth it before, then it’s worth it to exhibit in person today. The same benefits apply, and live events have some serious advantages over virtual events that people can casually ignore.
What are the Benefits of Exhibiting at a Trade Show?
Trade shows are most definitely worth attending, due in part to the wide range of potential advantages. However, it’s important that you attend the right shows since your choice of event determines the audience you’ll attract. Selecting the wrong trade show means exhibiting to an audience who may be working in your industry, but has zero interest in what you offer. However, select the right shows, and you gain access to a niche audience ripe with potential clients and customers. This is just one of a handful of benefits associated with attending trade shows in person.
Introduce Your Product or Service with Style
Whether you’re a startup with a fresh idea or an existing business with a new product line, trade shows provide the ideal environment for a launch. If you provide an innovative idea and an engaging demo, even small companies can attract a large amount of interest. Furthermore, many shows have special awards for new products, or perks for startups, such as discounted floor fees.
Trade Shows are Worth It Since You Can Interact Directly with Your Audience
A sound understanding of your audience is one of the most important keys to success. At trade shows, you have a unique and rare opportunity: you get to engage with a lot of people from your ideal target audience.
This provides you with:
- Highly valuable feedback about your booth and product offerings
- The chance to generate new leads and new clients
- The chance to make new industry contacts
Trade Shows are Worth It Because You Can Forge New Networking Opportunities
One of the primary reasons many companies attend trade shows is networking. Whether it’s to generate leads or sales, meet new people in your industry, or improve existing relationships, trade shows are popular and effective networking hubs. Large, well-attended shows might have more opportunities in terms of numbers, but a highly selective smaller trade show can provide a wealth of valuable opportunities too.
Research Your Competition
When you exhibit at a trade show, most of your focus is on your own booth and your target audience. However, most people set aside some time to scope out the competition. Trade shows provide a great opportunity to do just that. Many companies use trade shows as a vehicle to launch new product lines or unveil exciting news, which gives you the ideal opportunity to see just how they do it.
On a similar note, attending trade shows provides you the chance to see what’s happening across the industry. Are the big players pivoting to new target markets or launching product lines that are new to the industry? Identifying and understanding these trends early on gives you the best chance of benefiting from them. Furthermore, there’s no better way to find out about these game-changing developments than to experience them first-hand.
Trade Shows are Worth It Because You Get Exposure and Publicity
Most trade shows, even the small niche events, are covered by industry-specific publications. The bigger shows, especially tech and consumer-focused shows, tend to get loads of press, in general as well as special-interest websites and print magazines. If you can get a mention in a story, or even an interview with a journalist, the free publicity can pay off ten-fold.
Sending out a press release can increase your chance of garnering event-related coverage. Press releases follow a formula for the most part, which makes them relatively easy to write. So it’s an easy way to improve your odds of getting more media coverage.
Some media provides even more opportunities to maximize your exposure. Attendees and other exhibitors are tweeting and sharing pictures of booths on Instagram and LinkedIn, and people also searching for event-related news. You should totally add your voice to the mix. Even if your company is small, there’s no reason you can’t be part of the larger event storyline.
So…Are Trade Shows Still Worth It?
With live events taking a full year off in 2020 due to the coronavirus, virtual events took over. Many professionals are still wondering if it’s worth going back to exhibiting at live shows, especially since so many of the benefits apply to both types of events.
Here’s the deal. Since live events have returned, the benefits of exhibiting at a trade show are still there. You can attract attendees to your exhibit and engage with them face-to-face. If you happen to be in the process of launching a startup or a new product, you’ll have the opportunity to make a big splash. Naturally, the simplicity of networking at an in-person event will always remain true.
The real icing on the cake is that this new world offers new opportunities for you to exhibit since virtual trade shows are also an option. In fact, when possible, it’s a brilliant idea to have both a physical booth and a virtual one at the shows you attend. This is an option when you attend hybrid events, which incorporate aspects of both in-person and virtual events.
Benefits of a Virtual Booth
A virtual exhibit can help you pull in more leads during a show since people who cannot attend in person can still visit your online booth. A virtual booth doubles as an additional source of information for those who attend the live event. For instance, maybe someone cannot attend your live product demo but can view it via your virtual booth. This way nobody missed out on what you have to offer.
Another perk of a virtual booth is that it continues to serve as a source of information and inbound leads after the show. If the event host keeps the website live after the show, your booth will likely stay alive too. If not, you can transfer the valuable information to your company website. A virtual exhibit on your company site could very well continue to attract traffic and generate leads up until next year’s show!
Overall, live trade shows are still highly desirable events. However, virtual events are happening and they’re increasing in importance. The bet thing to do is to have a presence in both space – in person and online.
While in-person trade shows took a backseat in 2020, there’s no doubt that they’re still the best option for most exhibitors. The key to making a trade show pay off is to make careful, calculated choices about which shows to attend. Doing so ensures that you get the best possible ROI on your investment.