Still doing trade shows? Seriously??!!
It’s 2019. We are deep in the world of digital business. High-speed communication enables unbelievable amounts of data, images, and documents to be transmitted in the blink of an eye. Electronic funds transfers allow hundreds of thousands of dollars to change hands in a nanosecond. You can visually communicate with someone half way around the world without leaving your office. In the face of all that, is it possible that we are about to spend a ton of money to mount a display and fly a bunch of people to be part of a trade show – one of the most analogue possible marketing initiatives you can think of? You bet we are and I’ll tell you why trade shows still make sense in 2019.
We are proudly planning to be at the Promat trade show in Chicago next month. It focuses on material handling, packaging, shipping, warehousing and supply chain management, which are all areas from which we draw customers. But still, it does beg the question of why it’s worth it to spend all the time and money to be at a trade show. Here are 7 reasons.
It’s analogue. People get to touch, feel and hold casters. When I travel to see customers, I can’t possibly lug around samples of all the different products we make. And yet, there is no substitute for the 3D experience of having something in your hand.
The people economy of scale. In just four days, we get to meet so many more people than there is time to go see in any given year. And, speaking with someone in person cannot be replicated by any video conferencing platform. It’s personal. It’s real. It’s a way to build relationships. As well, there’s also great benefit to customers who get to see a myriad of suppliers and vendors in one place.
It’s neutral territory. Everyone is so busy and so insulated these days. It’s really difficult for customers to give up time for you to come see them. The same dynamic makes it almost impossible for them to come see us. The trade show creates a safe space for us to interact with customers in a way that isn’t cumbersome or imposing. In effect, it allows us to bring our manufacturing facility to them.
It levels the playing field. There may be suppliers, perhaps big corporate players, that are top of mind for some customers. Given the demands of time, it’s easier to call the supplier that you have always called. But at a trade show, there’s an opportunity for customers to look beyond the habitual and see what other companies have to offer. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard customers at a trade show, say something like, “I didn’t know that you do that!”
Market research. The trade show is a great chance to see how people react to new product releases and ideas and then learn from what they have to say. It’s also an opportunity for us to find out what’s on customers’ minds in one of our largest target markets. We are frequently asked if we have solutions for a number of challenges – and those inquiries have lead to some of our most successful and innovative product developments.
We get to be customers as well. At previous trade shows, we have been introduced to technology that has had major impact on our operation. When I walk the show, I’m not only looking at what our competitors are doing, I’m looking for innovations that are going to make us more efficient and more competitive.
Sales. I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the most obvious dividend to the trade show investment. For many of the reasons above, being at trade shows leads to additional sales – whether from new customers or existing customers who discovered some of our additional capabilities.
There’s very little that’s digital or high-tech about a trade show. Yes, there’s technology and robotics and AI on display. But at it’s core, it’s the very traditional, analogue and low-tech dynamic of interacting with people that makes trade shows worthwhile. That’s why, even in 2019, we are still investing in trade shows.
Come say hello!
If you’re planning to be at Promat on April 8-11 in Chicago, be sure to come say hello and shake hands with us in booth # S4879.