Are Trade Shows Worth the Investment?

I responded to a reporter’s question recently about the value of trade show participation for businesses. It’s a question that I have often pondered myself. “Are trade shows worth the investment?” Having attended trade shows, both as a participant and as an exhibitor, my opinion tends to lean toward “no.”

In my experience both as an exhibitor and an attendee at trade shows I’ve often been struck by the fact that trade show exhibitors are “stuck” behind their booths while much of the interaction that takes place at these events is occurring elsewhere. Often attendees avoid stopping at booths because they don’t want the “sales pitch.” Those who do stop tend to be those already engaged with or familiar with that organization (and/or those just “trick-or-treating”).

More meaningful–and far less expensive–connections seem to be made over beverages/food in the exhibit hall, during/after sessions, at receptions, etc. It’s my belief that, in many cases, simply being there and interacting with those present can generate the same, if not better, value than investing full bore in developing and staffing an exhibit.

Still, many organizations, including very large and–one might assume–“savvy” organizations not only participate in trade shows but also participate in them to a significant degree. Surely they’re examining whether or not their participation, and the related costs, make sense.

What do you think? Is the investment worth the effort?

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

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