Trade show marketing can be expensive. Particularly for small businesses, where the investment, as a percentage of the total marketing budget, can be greater than for larger companies with deeper pockets.
Even to send just one person to an event and to "man the booth", a B2B show can cost several thousand dollars in exhibit space fees, shipping marketing materials, and travel costs.
What's notable in my experience is that the decision of whether to exhibit at a trade show is often made on four (often faulty) criteria:
- Because "we go there every year." Don't exhibit just out of habit. Make your decision each year for an event is based on results.
- Because "our competitors always go there." This trade show may be as equally ineffective for them, too!
- "It's a fun location" or "there is always cool, interesting stuff on the exhibit floor." Trade shows are an expensive way to entertain yourself.
- When a different marketing tactic might be more suitable to achieve the same or better results (such as direct mail, telemarketing, etc.)
This criteria can really rip through a small biz marketing budget quickly, with little results in lead generation or actual sales. And once that's done, a broader (perhaps even more faulty) decision can be made that "trade shows don't work."
To keep off this slippery slope, I've listed 15 better objectives to consider when deciding on exhibiting at a trade show here.