Have you found yourself wondering lately what, if any, is the use of the trade show to your business or you personally? As an exhibitor do you feel disappointed with your ROI? As an attendee, do you feel that you are not gaining enough insight to justify the cost of attendance? Given the massive amounts of information available to us online, and our ability to communicate without ever meeting, it’s no wonder that many of us are questioning the value of participation.
We may be left to assume there’s not enough reason to participate in a show when you can acquire everything you need through the Internet or over the phone.
But that’s just the problem—these new avenues of communication, while effective, can never replace face-to-face communication. Trade shows are now more important than ever because they offer a singular opportunity for face-to-face interaction.
Let’s look at the role trade shows play via the numbers: recent data shows that the global trade show business is a multi-billion dollar industry. In 2013, within the United States, business-to-business exhibitions alone passed $11 billion in gross revenues. In 2012, trade shows contributed almost $70 billion to the US economy.
And within the show itself, marketers confirm that face-to-face interactions are core to their sales because it is the only communication platform that includes public relations, web outreach, social media, traditional advertising, and promotions. The unique value of the trade show is that it combines every communication platform into one.
The trade show thus holds great potential for growing your business or gleaning information about the state of your field, and this potential lies in making the most of the face-to-face.
And the evidence isn’t just found in trade shows. There’s also proof in countless other consumer experiences. Take one example from life: buying shoes.
Have you ever ordered a pair of shoes online? If so, were you able to purchase the correct size without ever trying them on? Chances are low. And once this ill-fitting pair arrived at your house, you’d inevitably have to take the shoes to the store, return them, and actually try them on in person in order to find the right size.
By attempting to shortcut this process via the web, we end up wasting precious time and money. Trade shows are no different.
Beyond the fact that most sales are the result of face-to-face interaction, there are further benefits to participating in trade shows and maximizing that face-to-face interaction.
Meeting on a personal level with others who share a common goal—to grow their business in the same field—is a basic building block of community. And community is what enables businesses—especially small to medium sized—to thrive and stably expand into the future. Not only that, but face-to-face interaction also allows exhibitors to get concrete attendee feedback and apply that to future shows and products. For attendees, you come to the trade show to learn, and the face-to-face is a prime space for learning. The most efficient way to discover new trends and innovators is to meet with others in person.
However, you only get out of face-to-face interaction what you put into it. Other reports show that billions of dollars are wasted every year in the face-to-face marketing industry. That means that we must know our audience, target them creatively, and find new ways to communicate and interact that no other platform—not online videos, ads, pamphlets, or social media—ever could. Just like trying on a shoe, the consumer experience is an individual and unique one, and the trade show is the only place to actually find the shoe that fits.
The Hughes Group mission is to maximize on this potential and the way to achieve this is through innovation. Our aim is to help exhibitors gain the best ROI, while also making every show experience well worth the attendee’s efforts. This starts with understanding the untapped potential that makes the trade show more important than ever: face-to-face interaction.