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article imageOp-Ed: Trade shows remain top value in B2B marketing

By Elizabeth Brown     May 1, 2015 in Business
The past few years, the business media has focused its coverage on emerging tools such as social media, mobile, and wearables as new platforms for sales and marketing.
However, when it comes to B2B marketing, trade shows remain the most powerful channel for showcasing a company's products and services.
Competing organizations often engage in a rivalry of who can put up the grandest exhibits, and who can offer cool freebies such as laser pointers, keychains, and USB drives. Some of the world's biggest trade shows include the Paris Air Show (400,000 attendees), Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas (160,000), and the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston (110,000), where delegates come from over a hundred countries.
Nearly half of the 200 largest trade shows take place in just three U.S. cities, according to Las Vegas, Chicago, and Orlando. At OTC in Houston, some of the world's biggest energy companies spend a fortune to fabricate displays complete with upper floors, meeting areas, kitchens, and outsized signs. Floor areas are typically filled with large oil equipment.
"With so much that needs handling before every trade show, inevitably at the top of this list is the exhibition booth itself," says an executive from Las Vegas-based Xibit Solutions. "Marketers know the value of a professional booth and take great care … to guarantee that they stand head and shoulders above the competition."
The exhibition industry grows by about 5 percent to 6 percent each year, reflecting the growing demand from private industry. Companies looking to acquire a favorable impression at trade shows may consider the following:
1. How can your display stand out?
2. Where should you place your flagship products?
3. What promotional items would your audience find useful?
4. Do you have enough business cards and informational brochures to hand out?
There can be plenty at stake at big trade shows, especially in a recovering economy in which rival organizations jockey for big orders. At trade shows, nearly four out of five people (81 percent) checking out the exhibits have buying authority, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), and nearly three out of four decision makers (76 percent) asked for a price quotation at the last event they attended.
This past January, nearly 10,000 attendees of CES had trouble finding hotel rooms in jam-packed Vegas. Organizers at some of the biggest trade shows are starting to limit the number of attendees who can get inside the venue in order to better manage the huge traffic on the aisles and booths.
Trade shows often represent a big chunk of B2B marketing budgets — and for a good reason. Companies are able to leverage an international audience to build brand awareness, get lead generation, and build relationships with customers and suppliers.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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