Trade shows emerge as a powerful marketing component...
Every so often, someone comes along and asks me hat a Trade Show Consultant does. I'd like to say that we sit at country clubs, play golf, play cards and clip coupons. That would be nice but... "it ain't necessarily so". So I explain that our function is to help companies recognize the importance of trade shows as a marketing tool, and then prepare them to get the most from their participation.
Simple, right? You may think so, but the looks I sometimes get seem to say otherwise. Often I'm told that the trade shows aren't a real marketing tool. This is the point at which people in my business really begin our work. Educating the uneducated is a major part of our responsibility.
Recently we've been given some new ammunition for our arsenal. The results of several studies document the emergence of trade shows as a primary marketing tool.
The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (www.ceir.org) recently released the results of a landmark study on Maximizing the Role of Exhibition in the Total Marketing Mix - The Power of Exhibitions!
Among the findings was the fact that companies that integrate trade shows as part of their overall marketing budget, expenditures for exhibitions rank second only to those spent on direct/field sales expenses and ahead of advertising, direct mail, public relations and telemarketing expenditures.
By industry, the percentage of the marketing budget spent on trade shows is as follows:
In all cases, expenditures for exhibitions ranked next to the top in budgeted dollars.
How do these same companies rank exhibitions as a source for generating sales leads? When comparing the effectiveness of exhibitions, advertising and direct mail, the results were:
Another indication that trade shows are gaining respect is found in a study conducted by Dr. Allen Konopacki, a noted trade show consultant, in which industry CEOs indicated that they are starting to attend trade shows with more frequency. When asked why they will attend shows in 1996, the following reasons were given:
This attitude seems to indicate that the boss wants to be where the action is.
Why the change in the attitude toward trade shows? Those marketers that are faced with downsized staffs and budgets have decided to explore new efficiencies for expanding their marketing dollars. Those who have known all along that shows made good marketing sense are evangelizing their success in the boardrooms. Open-minded executives are listening to the message and becoming converts of the exhibition industry.
Whats next? For those companies that have experienced the benefits of trade shows, there is the desire to improve upon presentation techniques, display choices and upgrade what they have been doing for some time. For the newcomer, it is time to build a strong marketing plan that includes exhibitions as an integral tool.
Companies that have the vision to see the complete marketing program will accrue a greater benefit to the bottom line than those who only look at marketing as a piecemeal exercise.