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The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. Mark Twain
With all the advances in technology such as on-demand sales presentations, webinars, augmented reality, and 3d virtual exhibits, we are sometimes asked if the traditional trade show is still meaningful. Is it worth the investment to exhibit at a trade show? For several very good and diverse reasons the answer to that question is a resounding “Yes!”
First things first. Exhibiting at a trade show is a strategic decision that should always be made as part of your overall marketing strategy. The value and ROI of exhibiting at a trade show is directly proportional to the amount of pre-show planning that your team has done.
Trade show industry health check
Everyone has a budget so why would you invest in physically exhibiting at a trade show. Are they still relevant? According the Center of Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), the trade show industry is alive, well, and growing. The chart below is from a 2017 CEIR study and clearly shows the upwards trend in the trade show industry.
If your hesitation to incorporate exhibiting at a trade show is based on a perceived lack of relevancy, be assured that live events remain as relevant as ever. But why is that so
Face to Face
There really is no substitute for face-to-face interactions. Social scientists have a theory of why it’s so powerful – the media naturalness theory. The gist is that humans have evolved by direct interaction and observing a myriad of subtle, non-verbal clues, during a conversation. No high-tech media exists that can replicate that experience. No virtual reality system can deliver a warm handshake. That’s what happens at a trade show – people interacting with people at a very human level. Knowing that, the savvy trade show exhibitor will invest in maximizing that interaction by training the exhibitor staff in the value of relationships.
Remember, if someone wanted to simply know the technical features of your product, they would have found that information on your website. A trade show is your opportunity to leverage the power of relationship selling by actually building relationships. Much has been written about relationship selling versus traditional selling. We at Agility summarize it in the following graphic.
People do business with people they like and trust. As long as that remains true, trade shows will be alive, well, and an important part of your marketing strategy.