For the past 8-10 years the relevance of trade shows have been questioned as the business environment continues to change due to emerging technologies and economic pressures that compel business professionals to measure and question every expense.
Given this background, The Center for Exhibition and Industry Research (CEIR) conducts regular research on exhibiting trends. These are some surprising facts that have been uncovered.
Surprising facts uncovered by CEIR during their 2016 Changing Environment of Exhibitions Study:
- Business-to-business exhibitions ranked 2nd among the most popular primary Marcom and Sales tactic following company website. This was when they were given twenty possible marketing communications and sales tactics and asked which they used primarily. The rank for business-to-business exhibitions was the same as it was in 2011.
- 77% of respondents indicated that business-to-business exhibitions’ was their primary tactic.
- Social media jumped significantly in importance from 2011, 9th to 5th most important in 2016.
- In-person visits to existing customers ranked 3rd as the top tactic for 60% of respondents followed very closely by in-person visits to prospective customers.
- In-person corporate events are more popular for larger companies with 67% of companies with revenues over $100 Million to $499.9 Million using them
- While 41% of respondents indicated they plan to use more in-person corporate events, only 25% plan to exhibit at more business-to-consumer exhibitions and 20% plan to exhibit at more business-to-business exhibitions. However, 63% plan to keep their participation the same at b2b events, 56% of plan to stay at B2C events and 51% plan to stay the course for in-person corporate events.
One unsurprising aspect the study uncovered is how some digital marketing strategies are now considered standard. Tactics such as social media, online meetings or forums, digital advertising and e-newsletters may be considered new to some marketers, but to others, these tactics have become another tool in the marketing toolbox.
Ultimately, I think the key takeaway is that marketing is always changing.
Face-to-face interactions are still important, but now we have the advantage of new tools to help us become more effective at communicating so we can get to that very important moment of developing a business relationship. Digital marketing, such as websites and social media, are great at getting basic information across, but in the end, your company is best represented by the type of people you hire. Whether it is at a trade show, a consumer or business event or an in-person visit, getting to shake someone’s hand and talk to them about your problems is irreplaceable.
About the Author
Sofia is the Customer Engagement and Industry Relations Manager for Skyline Exhibits. An experienced marketing professional with branding, innovation and product commercialization expertise, she heads up Skyline’s marketing efforts in customer engagement, exhibitor education, industry relations and market research. Sofia has more than a decade of experience with both B2B and consumer packaged goods companies and an MBA from the University of Arizona Eller College of Management with an emphases in marketing and entrepreneurship. Sofia is fluent in Spanish having lived and studied in Latin America, and currently sits on the board of directors for the Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa.