In the modern era of Google searches, social media, video marketing, streaming content and digital presentations, the necessity of yearly trade shows has gone the way of the dinosaurs. If you are a business owner who is prepping for a pilgrimage to an upcoming trade shows, here are four things to consider before packing your bags:
- Does it make sense to go? Don’t go to trade shows to be social, go there to roll up your sleeves and work. Make sure that you are limiting time on the floor by double and triple-booking yourself, and focusing only on the most relevant engagements. If this is a four day trade show, for example, pick one of those four days that’s most relevant to your business, and limit yourself to only that day. You’ll end up saving thousands of dollars that would have been wasted on food and lodging, and you’ll be where you’re needed most: behind your desk.
- Are you sending the right people? If a trade show seems extraordinarily relevant to your business, and you find yourself in a position that requires bringing staff, take a moment to really consider who will make the most valuable contribution through their attendance. If you have a staff member who is great at socializing, but never brings in a new contact or lead from an event, don’t waste your time and money bringing them.
- Are you really spending money to save money? Leaving out all the costs associated with travel, ticketing, meals, etc, how much money do you think you’re saving through vendors at the trade show? Would those savings not exist the week before or after the event? I’d argue that the amount of time you’ve spent just getting in front of the right salesman or vendor would have been better utilized on negotiating better deals online or over the phone.
- Is this really the best way to network? Social media has taken the stage when it comes to connecting with the individuals and businesses that can help your business grow. The halls of a trade show can only hold a few thousand prospects, but social media provides millions of them, and includes a filter to find the right lead!
Though the necessity of trade shows is quickly waning, in my experience the most relevant and valuable ones are hosted by one manufacturer. Attendees are either fellow distributors or fellow businesses that are directly related to your industry through use of the host’s products. They provide an excellent platform to learn new industry practices, and provide useful information on the tools and methods provided by their products.