Today’s era of connected technology has given rise to the dominance of online marketing and advertising. Advertising space is plentiful and inexpensive, and there are countless inexpensive platforms to harness when promoting the visibility of your brand. By comparison, many traditional marketing and advertising strategies seem almost obsolete. For example, tradeshows cost hundreds to thousands of dollars to attend (not to mention days of prep time and attendance), and on the surface, don’t seem to offer the volume that online marketing can.
However, there are some significant advantages to tradeshow marketing that you can’t get with any other medium, even in today’s age—and no traditional marketing strategy should be overlooked. The question then becomes, are the advantages of tradeshows worth the cost of attending them?
Modern Advantages of Tradeshows
These are just some of the reasons tradeshows might actually have an advantage over your online marketing strategies:
Automatic audience targeting. According to Magnum Systems, “Every tradeshow attendee wants to be there, and is a potential target for your business. You can’t buy that kind of audience targeting online.” Though many online marketing strategies revolve around filtering your audience down to only the most relevant individuals, tradeshows do this automatically. Almost anyone you come across in the same tradeshow as you has the potential to become a customer, which dramatically increases your chances of success.
Face-to-face interactions. According to Warren Bennis, “Learning in a face-to-face human community, as humans have evolved to do over hundreds of thousands of years, may always be the ideal – especially in an endeavor that is as relationship-driven as business.” In today’s era of emailing and social networking, face-to-face interactions are often an afterthought, but they can be extraordinarily powerful when forging new connections with people. Tradeshows give you that opportunity.
Lead generation. In the words of Allen Malapit, “Limit giveaways to those who give you their contact information. In other words, try to avoid giving marketing collateral to unqualified leads.” Tradeshows have built-in customs and processes that allow you to generate an enormous number of leads. Every person you talk to will likely have a business card on them, and everyone you engage with at your booth will likely give you their name and email address. As long as you start on the right foot, you’ll be well-equipped to make a sale sometime in the near future.
Direct sales opportunities. Depending on the nature of the tradeshow and what you’re selling, you may have the opportunity to make direct sales when you’re on the floor. In an online environment, visitors and leads have to go through a lengthy process of qualification before they talk to a salesperson or convert onsite; in a tradeshow, that process can be quickly accelerated, especially if you find out your prospect is attending specifically to buy what you’re selling.
Networking. Finally, tradeshows give you the opportunity to network with a vast audience of like-minded individuals. Sure, you could join a social media group or peruse the internet to connect with more people in your industry, but you won’t find the same volume or face-to-face opportunities that you’ll find in a tradeshow environment. These events are designed to connect people, and are therefore perfect opportunities to do so.
Are Tradeshows Worth It?
The bottom line here is whether or not these advantages are “worth” your investment in tradeshows, and unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer. Tradeshows range in cost from just a few hundred to several thousand dollars, and can be even more expensive when you factor in the cost of marketing collateral and the time you’ll spend attending. If you go into a tradeshow knowing their inherent strengths and weaknesses, and come equipped with a plan to make the most of your attendance, most reasonably priced tradeshows will be well worth your money.