The B2B Value of Trade Shows

It seems like every discussion about improving B2B marketing campaigns revolves around the Internet; and for good reason as the Internet has become the primary hub where consumers access information.

But the current explosion of digital media choices is taking its toll on the financial vitality of traditional B2B advertising vehicles such as print publications and direct mail.

In the United Kingdom, the use of direct mail among B2B advertising agencies has dropped significantly, according to an annual B2B marketing trend report conducted by Circle Research. On average, the total share of budgeted spending allocated to direct mailing efforts among B2B firms has dropped from 17 percent in 2009 to a projected 9 percent in 2011.

Statistics analyzing direct mail use among B2B marketing agencies in the United States are less conclusive. However, research firm eMarketer projects the Internet will account for 21.5 percent of overall ad spending in 2014; suggesting a growing shift in the outlets where companies believe they are more likely to capture prospects and generate sales.

Conversely trade show spending is projected to reach more than $15 billion in 2014. This amount is more than the combined total anticipated to be spent on e-media and print advertising during the same period, according to private equity firm Veronis Shuler Stevenson.

Why Tradeshows?

The secret behind the longstanding success of trade shows mainly has to do with the age-old desire for human interaction and the perceived value these events have from both attendees and exhibitors.

For exhibitors, trade shows remain one of the most effective methods of reinforcing brand awareness and building on existing relationships with colleagues and other B2B professionals.

More than 90 percent of exhibitors believe trade shows will remain a critical marketing tool for their operations during the next five years, according to a survey of 500 exhibitors and trade show attendees conducted by Skyline Exhibits. This is made evident by the nearly 10 percent of additional spending planned by exhibitors in 2011 to enhance their trade show presence, according to the survey.

As for the consumer perspective, a strong majority of trade show attendees view such events as essential to the product sourcing and buying side of their businesses. Nearly 60 percent of attendees indicate their participation in a trade show typically results in a major purchase or the finalization of an important deal within three months after the event takes place, according to the Skyline survey.

While the Internet provides quick and easy access to information on goods and services, consumers are still skeptical about making a purchase without first having an opportunity to examine the product. Trade shows are able to fulfill this desire by allowing attendees to compare products and meet suppliers quickly and conveniently.

As technological advances have improved the ability to access the Internet remotely, an increasing number of B2B firms are taking advantage of social media tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook to promote and provide exposure to their participation in trade show events.

Even though the practicality of many conventional B2B marketing methods are starting to show their age, new life can be breathed into these once popular marketing strategies by integrating new technologies with conventional marketing tactics.