In an increasingly digital world, you may be forgiven for assuming that trade shows and exhibitions are a relic of the past – perhaps you used to exhibit in previous years but saw such poor returns that you relegated events to the ‘not worth it’ pile.
If that’s the case, you may be surprised to learn that trade shows are making a bit of a comeback: 85% of marketing executives predict that the popularity of exhibitions will stay the same or increase over the next few years, and 70% of B2B marketers plan to spend more of their budgets on events in 2018.
Why are events increasing in popularity?
The events industry has made some big changes in recent years, which have likely been triggered by a combination of waning interest and advancements in technology:
- Decreasing attendee numbers and poor exhibitor ROI would have spurred industry leaders to seek ways of breathing new life into the sector by evolving and innovating.
- Technology has allowed exhibitors to get far greater value out of their presence at events by using tools that help them manage their leads and maximise their ROI.
This has helped exhibitors and attendees alike to gain more from trade shows than they had done previously – 99% of exhibitors now believe that B2B events offer unique value that is simply not provided by other marketing channels.
Why should you start exhibiting again?
If events have been demoted from your marketing strategy, now’s a great time to get back in the game. Here are a few of the most convincing arguments for incorporating events into your mix:
Increase your sales and brand awareness
The events industry is big business. The UK alone hosts over 1.3 million business events annually, and last year’s cumulative spend by attendees was just under £40 billion. Amongst those attendees will be people looking for a product or service like yours – if you don’t attend, are you sure you can reach them in other ways? Or will they end up going to one of your competitors who they met at an event?
Get closer to your target audience and build better relationships
Events have always been a great way to meet prospective clients in person, especially for B2B businesses who may only sign up a few high-value accounts per year. Exhibiting is often a highly effective method of getting closer to your target audience and building relationships with the people that matter: 81% of trade show attendees have the authority to make buying decisions.
The nature of events has changed, as has marketing as a whole – consumers and buyers have a greater deal of power because they can very easily research the market online and pick what they think is the best solution for them. As a result, it’s now not always about the hard sell and winning a sale on the stand; gathering a prospect’s email address is often the goal for exhibitors because it means they can start the longer-term exercise of marketing directly to individuals.
Event tech increases your ROI
In the past, the insights teams were getting from events were poorly managed, out of context and hard to take advantage of. Technology has made it easier than ever before to integrate events with the wider marketing strategy; exhibitors get far greater value out of attending by using tools that help them manage their leads.
Advances in event tech and apps like Akkroo have enabled companies to build a tech stack for their events that allow data to be easily gathered by salespeople, then collated, analysed, measured, and utilised by marketing teams.
Although spend on events can run into the tens of thousands (or even more), this should be seen as an investment rather than a cost. If done right, exhibiting can lower your spend in other areas; for example, it takes an average of 4.5 sales calls to close a sale without an exhibition lead, and only 3.5 sales calls to close a sale with a lead from an exhibition, and meeting a prospective customer at an exhibition saves organisations an average of $943 compared to meeting them in the field.
There are few more effective marketing methods
A recent industry report revealed that events are still the second most effective marketing tactic over content marketing, email marketing, paid search advertising and webinars – only direct marketing has a greater impact. For that reason alone, you should consider devoting some of your budget to maintaining a presence at appropriate industry trade shows – they remain a fantastic way to increase sales, promote your brand, and herald the launch of your latest product or service.
Certain Event Marketing report
Conference News – Bellwether report
Trade Show and Event Marketing Stats (all CEIR stats)
Eventbrite UK Event Industry report