News & Opinions
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11 New Rules of Trade Show Marketing
Mike Thimmesch / Skyline Trade Show Tips / September 24, 2013
In the last 10 years or so there have been fundamental technological and economic changes that have rewritten the trade show rule book. Not rules like how close to the aisle your exhibit structure can be or how loud your music can play, but rules about what it takes to succeed on the show floor.
Some changes evolved slowly over the years, and some were wrenched into place almost at once. Here’s what’s changed – and how you can adapt to those changes:
1. More Uncertainty: Economic uncertainty has lasted for years, and shows little signs of going away. This makes your top company executives reluctant to commit early to trade shows, and buy capital-intensive larger exhibits. You have to balance their need for financial flexibility by waiting longer to commit to shows and vendors, and yet still avoid more expensive rush charges. (I sincerely wish you luck walking that tightrope.) Rental exhibits help avoid capital expenses, too.
2. Measurement A Must: Gone are the days when you could end the show by saying to your boss, “We had a good show, didn’t we?” and that would be enough. Your trade show spending is being compared to more explicitly measurable electronic marketing mediums. So even if your trade show is producing greater results, if you don’t prove it with real numbers, such as ROI ratios or sales generated, it didn’t happen in the minds of your bosses, and your budget is in jeopardy. Here’s a free tool to help you measure your trade show results.
3. Trade Shows Stronger Than Some Expected: Trade shows are one of the winners in the marketing media wars. Along with electronic media, trade shows have retained a greater share of B2B marketing budgets than print and direct mail. That’s because trade shows still provide what all marketers want: face time with lots of real buyers in one place. So be sure to take full advantage of your face time at shows, because it’s harder to reach buyers elsewhere.