With the current upswell of marketing activity through online channels, we're often asked by clients, "How's the trade show business? Are companies still investing in event marketing and promotion?" The answer is that face to face marketing is alive and well. It's important to remember that personal connection and networking still has a place outside of Facebook and Twitter. For many companies, attending trade shows and conventions is a vital part of a multi-channel marketing strategy. So what do we see going on in the world of face to face marketing? Glad you asked!
- Companies are choosing wisely. There are still scores of opportunities out there, and companies are picking through these to ensure that their investment of time and expense delivers. The focus here is on quality, not quantity - by removing the shotgun approach when deciding what to attend, and ensuring that their best people are on the floor, companies are looking at ROI much more.
- Attendees want real information. Similarly, event attendees are looking for solid information and substance, not 2 days of sales pitches. Stand out and maintain top-of-mind by delivering engaging, interactive displays, innovative product exhibits, and unique & valuable information.
- Lots of businesses are attending more shows. But the trend is towards smaller show footprints, smaller exhibits, and more specialized events.
- Dynamic, interactive displays. At the minimum, consider adding an audio/visual element to your exhibit environment. Don't go for glitz and discard substance, but remember that engaging your audience and delivering your message may best be accomplished through an innovative custom trade show display or adding interactive components to your exhibit.
- The bar has been raced for event & trade show organizers. As companies and attendees become ever more selective when deciding which events to attend, organizers have responded by harnessing the power of social media. With relatively low costs and potentially high returns, social networks and virtual trade shows are a great channel for bringing in qualified attendees.
- Concise, powerful branding. Your brand and message have to make an impact in an increasingly short amount of time. This forces marketers to ensure that their communications are short, simple and powerful - again, raising the bar for how companies reach their audience.
These current trends have one thing in common - they will reward innovative, fast-acting companies. As audiences become ever more selective and companies focus increasingly on high-ROI initiatives, the best firms will respond to this and adapt their marketing communications. Face to face promotion is very much alive and kicking; but like many other marketing channels, it is incredibly fast-moving and will reward those companies that can stay ahead of the curve.