B2B marketers are continuing to scrutinize the return on investment for marketing programs and campaigns. One expensive tactic on the chopping block for a lot of companies is the trade show. Since 2001 (9-11), business travel and trade show attendance dropped. In our current economic environment, trade shows are suffering even more because marketing and sales departments are cutting out shows they’ve attended for years. Some of the trends affecting trade shows include:
Increase in alternative methods to showcase products and services. The Internet with web sites, videos, webinars and Go To Meeting sessions is creating alternative ways to reach prospects and customers.
Increase in number of shows and therefore competition for your prospects’ attention. With commerce expanding all around the world, trade shows are being held in countries that never had them before.
Consolidation of trade shows. Trade shows that used to compete are merging or being acquired by larger shows.
Trend toward regional shows. To accomodate business executives and others who just don’t want to spend all their time and money traveling, shows are moving to a regional format.
Trade shows are going hybrid. New show formats are emerging, including the Hosted-Buyer Model. In this model the trade show pays all or some of the buyer’s travel expenses and meeting fee. Exhibitors sign up to hold scheduled appointments with buyers who attend the show. Associations like the Independent College Book Association has benefited from this model.
I think that trade shows need to go regional. That’s more work for the exhibitors and the show companies, and less work for the buyer. It’s another sign that the buyer, not the seller, is in control. I think that there is or will be a backlash against webinars and virtual presentations and a move to more quality face-to-face meetings. We want to buy from human beings, not from the Internet.
For some ideas about how to increase your ROI on trade shows, see my post “Trade Show Tricks to Maximize B2B ROI.”
What’s your opinion on the future of Trade Shows? Please comment below.