How to Justify Your Trade Show Program

How To, Opinion

Hyster custom exhibit

You and I both know the value trade shows have to your marketing plan, but it’s time to prove it in no uncertain terms.  Even though many trade show professionals are optimistic about future results, most don’t believe their budget will increase.  Many marketing managers must fight to justify dream budgets to supervisors and the C-suite.  We’ve compiled the three most compelling pieces of ammo to swing things in your favor.

Trade Show Leads Cost Less

How much time do sales and marketing people spend trying to get a moment with decision makers?  Trade shows, when done correctly, cut out much of the cumbersome middle part.  Around 84% of trade show attendees have influence or direct buying power, the exact audience you want to reach.  Even better, many are there to buy, with 49% of attendees coming with a plan to buy within 12 months of the show.  There’s no telephone tag, no red tape and no unanswered emails when they come to you.  In fact, Center for Exhibition Industry Research has estimated that it costs 22% less to make contact with qualified leads at trade shows than through traditional sales methods.


Live Demos Open Checkbooks

Where else can potential clients try out your products where and how you want them to?  At trade shows you can prove all of your marketing messages in a fairly controlled, targeted environment.  Giving live demonstrations, interactions, overviews or other up-close encounters with your product or service can complement and extend claims made in print, digital and other marketing efforts.  It has been found that product demos have the highest impact in early stages of B2B buying.  To take full advantage of the sales possibilities, you can help ensure positive experiences by controlling the interactions in a branded environment.  CEIR has reported in the past that product demonstrations are one of the top three reasons expo attendees remember an exhibitor, proving that interaction with products is important to potential buyers.

CEIR key factors

Your Competitors Don’t Follow Up on Leads

Your competitors are still exhibiting.  If nothing else this gives you a chance to keep your eye on them.  Whether they’re switching up tactics or previewing new products, sizing competitors up at trade shows gives tangible insight to their success, failures, plans and strategies. Of course, they’re probably doing the same to you.  Investing in a quality trade show program therefore not only reinforces your brand to customers, but rivals as well.

But chances are your competitors are leaving opportunities wide open for you at trade shows.  Apparently, up to 80% of exhibiting companies do not correctly follow up on leads.  Just being the first or only company to follow up could increase your chance on a sale.


Trade shows can get pricey, can be a hassle and require lots of staff time, but they remain a steadfast part of many successful marketing programs.  If your marketing program needs an extra boost for trade shows, fight for the budget to not only exhibit, but exhibit well.  You must convince your department superiors to invest in research, pre- and post-show marketing, booth staff and a high quality custom or rental exhibit.

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