Are exhibitions and trade shows still relevant in a digital age?
In a business environment which has seen massive impact from digital marketing channels, how effective is traditional communication ?
Should we focus on engaging with customers at trade shows when the benefits of mass marketing through social platforms and digital media activity are clear to see?
So is there a need for trade shows and exhibitions ?
There certainly is (terms and conditions apply !!)
Attending shows used to require attending as many events as possible, filling the display stand with brochures and sales material and arriving with as many staff as possible to hand this material out. A very defined focus on outbound communication. Now that same material can be downloaded from company websites 24 hour a day so eroding the possible need to attend the show in the first place.
Each show attended had new staffing, rental, graphic and collateral costs so the availability of “affordable” digital advertising channels naturally had an impact on the way businesses had to manage their marketing budgets and their approach to trade show attendance.
Now we see how attendance at trade shows has shifted the focus from mass distribution of material to information gathering and relationship building at selected events.
Take advantage of the right exhibitions to attend
As marketers and business owners we want to talk to the right people at the right time.
It is clear to see how the segmentation that is possible through digital channels allows this to happen. However as trade shows have narrowed their focus, those customers attending shows have very specific requirements or areas of interest and have specific expectations of the companies they intend or expect to meet at trade shows.
Every company now has very specific knowledge concerning their ideal customers persona and can subsequently find out which shows they attend. By aligning your marketing activities with attendance at those shows new product launches for example can be timed to coincide with meeting your ideal customer base at pre-selected shows.
Live Interactions with your customer at Trade Shows
Display shows match interested customers with specific requirements with a number of experienced vendors that are capable of meeting those needs and give them the facility to communicate in face-to-face environments.
There is no substitute for the ‘always on’ nature of digital communication but likewise the power of one to one communication with your customer is not easily replicated in the digital sense.
At a show, you not only get insights into the persona and motivation of your customer but have the opportunity to gather information and feedback that could only become apparent in direct conversation with the customer by skilled brand experts.
The right exhibition stand design, aesthetically pleasing and high in functionality, can bring your customer direct to your space, allowing them to engage directly with you and provide them with the ultimate experience of your brand.
The display show as an opportunity to gain attention
Digital communication channels bring the concepts of mass communication to the doorstep of every business by their ease of use but as a consequence, the level of competition from national and international forces can be fierce.
Depending on the stage of your business and size of purse, identifying the right show to go to can give you the opportunity to gain publicity and exposure not otherwise possible within budget and time constraints.
The trade show you have selected to attend will have key players within your industry in attendance and the exhibition stand you have carefully planned and designed, will give you an ideal opportunity to gain their attention.
Market Positioning and increases in Brand Credibility
Leaders within your industry will also follow the same model of attending those trade shows that are relevant to their and your target customers.
It follows that your credibility will be increased by being associated in the same environment as them.
It will be hard to see the short-term ROI of some of these sales events when considering the costs involved but feedback from sales staff who contact the customer base after the event can gather this information for you.
Competitor Monitoring possible at Trade Shows
Exhibition shows by their very nature mean that all vendors in attendance will have their best foot forward; showcasing latest products and developments in their best light.
Monitoring of online advertising does not give you the opportunity to assess the capabilities and direction of your competition against your own to the same degree as physically being in the same space as competitors.
Exhibitions give you vital insights in the direction your competition is taking and the messages they are communicating direct to customers. On the back of this feedback you may choose to amend your own strategy accordingly.