Trade Shows – Are they still relevant?
October 18, 2012 Leave a comment
The last two days in The Woodlands outside of Houston the Stainless Steel World trade show was taking place and featured manufacturers and distributors of stainless steel plate, coil, bars, piping and fittings. The show like many featured the normal display booths and seminars on effect product usage and performances. This is the second time I have attended the show and compared to others it is relatively small. Outokumpu attended with representation from all product groups and our booth was well attended. Now like many of the trade shows those attending were typically other competitors and current customers, in fact very little new contacts were made. So the question would then be why spend tat cost of your marketing budgets? Are trade shows worth the investment. Yes
The first reason is that any new contact while small is still a great business opportunity. We are in a very mature market and finding the right customers can pay for the show in itself. Many might say that a good social media marketing campaign would be able to reach these same potential customers for far less money. The issue is that on social media you miss the personal contact and the ability to engage in discussion to align their needs with your capabilities. You can also help these customers find solutions that they did not know were available or meet their needs better than their current components.
This still may not be enough to justify the cost of a trade show alone. To me though the interaction that you have with your current customers is priceless. The relaxed atmosphere that a trade show brings is far different then what you can achieve on the phone, in emails and even visiting their sites. The distractions from the normal work day are gone and allows you to go more in depth on their needs. This last show I was able to work on supply solutions with some current customers that will possibly increase our sales and in doing decrease their overall costs.
One other advantage of a trade show is the ability to have discussion with your competitors. The chance to discuss the market and build these relationships can result in a chance to develop a new paradigm between the companies. With our unit in this last trade show we ended have a long discussion with a company that we compete often on bids and came a way with a chance to work together to create some opportunities together. The understanding of each other economies of efficiency could be very beneficial not only to our customers but as well to our customers.
So are trade shows still relevant, I would say definitely yes.