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The Hidden Value of Trade Shows is Very Real

All companies that invest in exhibit marketing should have a good understanding of “Why” they are investing, “What” they hope to achieve, “Who” they need to get in front of to accomplish the goal(s) and “How” they need to interact with the target prospects once in a face-to-face environment.


However, too many organizations minimize the detailing of goals and leave the extensive potential value of investments they are already making on the trade show floor.  So whether you are quantifying and measuring to establish a formal ROI (Return on Investment), or simply want to enhance awareness of the many values trade shows offer your firm, below are five extra gifts from the world of exhibit and event marketing.

  1. Your Senior Management has opportunities to initially meet or strengthen relationships with contacts at key accounts, whose only tie to your company may be their particular Sales representatives. Management (or owners) also have the benefit of witnessing their teams in action as well as spending quality and intense time with their teams in a compact amount of time.
  2. Your company has an investment in its Brand. Unless you’re a start-up, the efforts to build and enhance a brand started long before consideration of what your exhibit would look like.  The brand is everything from your people, the logos on their shirts, the industry’s perception of your company and its products or services. A trade show amortizes the investment in your brand because it likely has the largest collection of potential customers in one place at one time.
  3. What’s next for your company’s growth? Gather some research. Before you invest in tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) in product development, utilize the fact that the future buyers of a new product are already assembled at a trade show. Take the time to implement some informal research on their openness to acquiring the future product or their ideas on how you might improve it.
  4. There are plenty of training opportunities at trade shows. The training can be on key benefits a manufacturer wants to convey to its distributors, or a professional services corporation that want to reinforce skilled training among a geographically dispersed sales force.  Training can be veteran staff working with newer staff in the booth, or can be taking advantage of classes, seminars, breakouts and speakers that are part of most trade shows.
  5. Your competition is likely exhibiting at the same trade show you are. Check them out!  Get close to their products; notice the people they are meeting with. Are your competitors meeting with your customers or prospects, too? I’m not suggesting clandestine or sneaky approaches, but it doesn’t hurt to go shake a hand and meet the competition.  One of their better employees may be your next superstar!

There are many reasons to exhibit at a trade show. Take time to think about the benefit exhibiting has brought your company outside of what is listed above. Let us know what value you’ve found from trade show exhibiting in the comments below.


tradeshows timeline sheet calucaltion roi
Trade Show Planning Timeline (PDF)

Download this all-in-one trade show planning timeline to keep track of your trade show deadlines. Our timeline includes exhibit design & build tasks, technology considerations, pre-show promotions, booth staff tasks, lead management and miscellaneous items. Also included is; budget planning information, a booth staff schedule, typical show services deadline list and a budget calculator perfect for trade show veterans and those newer to the industry.

About the Author

Steve Hoffman, President of Skyline Exhibits & Design, Inc. has spent almost 30 years in the selling and marketing of marketing products. Following a successful career in the TV Program Syndication business, he joined The Holt Group/Skyline Displays as a Marketing Consultant, then moved into management, ultimately purchasing a portion of that company. He is the author of "The Reality of B.S. (Big Sales...That Is)." Steve is dedicated to helping his South Carolina trade show displays clients achieve their worldwide exhibit marketing goals while improving their efficiencies, too.

One response to “The Hidden Value of Trade Shows is Very Real

  1. Great article Steve. Finding out what competitors are up to is always a must for me. I used to work with a gentleman who had this amazing ability to get the competition at trade shows to tell him everything about what they were doing. He was never hiding the fact that he was a competitor either, but for some reason, he could always get people talking about their strategies and ideas or other things that were in the pipeline. It was an amazing skill; I wish I had it.

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