A couple of days ago, my Twitter network was momentarily absorbed in discussing the importance of trade fairs for a company’s marketing objectives. Surprisingly many were of the opinion that the whole thing is a sheer waste of money. In addition, many hinted that taking part in a trade fair signals dullness, stupidity, lack of imagination, and what not.
I decided not to get provoked, and took part in the conversation by simply stating that dealing out key rings and candies is, indeed, not enough.
On the other hand, with all this content marketing hype surrounding us, I fail to understand how anyone could be surprised by that at this point. Sure, there are weak and fading trade fairs out there, but if one bothers to do just a bit of background work, it should be relatively easy to steer clear of the poorest choices.
Another important point is to realize that a trade fair trip does not consist (only) in drinking beer and chattering. After all, it is working time, and as such no different from being in the office! Although for sure, having a beer tap at your stand may serve to facilitate sales, which is usually what companies participating at trade fairs are after.
Please note that I am here talking specifically about B2B fairs.
Therefore we might note that while a trade fair can be a massively wasteful investment, they can just as well be a marketing measure with an essential impact on a company’s turnover. Most traps can be avoided by defining targets in a smart and thorough manner and making preparations carefully.
While looking for evidence, I decided to take a look at the feedback box of the most recent big fair, Medica 2014. In November, we took a total of 26 Finnish companies to the fair, out of which 21 answered our feedback questionnaire.
A couple of statistics:
- Most of the companies had managed to obtain over 30 new contacts; for the most successful ones, this number was close to 200.
- The average number of direct bids received was 20. The company mentioned above with the highest number of contacts also got over one hundred bids.
- The average number of contracts signed at the fair was 5, although some companies came up to ten and even more.
- None of the companies who returned the questionnaire saw Medica as a disappointment in terms of their business.
It does not take a mathematician or an economics guru to realize that the fair has been quite a success for these companies. It is evident that they had made clear for themselves beforehand what their objectives were.
I would certainly not say that these people are stupid or that they do not understand marketing just because they decided to spend money on a trade fair participation, even though it is nowadays so fashionable to invest in digital marketing instead. If good contents work on the internet, why ever would they not work at a trade fair? Unnecessarily narrow thinking with regard to marketing options is so last season.
People may well like to buy cheap stuff on the internet, but when it comes to a deal worth tens or hundreds of thousands of euros, or a partnership agreement intended to last for several years, a web shop is rarely the purchasing platform of choice.
So, trade fairs still have their time and place.
This post has been originally posted in Finnish 4.12.2014.