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Top 8 Reasons Exhibitors Value Trade Shows

Why do exhibitors value trade shows?  What are their objectives for exhibiting?  What benefits do they get from exhibiting?

It turns out exhibitors have a lot of great reasons for exhibiting, many that can’t be easily duplicated anywhere else.

Let’s look at exhibitor’s top 8 reasons for exhibiting at trade shows, as reported in The Value of Trade Shows, a white paper published this year by Skyline and EXPO Magazine:

1)  88% of Exhibitors Exhibit for Awareness

The top reason exhibitors exhibit at trade shows is to raise the awareness of their company and brand.  Nearly 9 out of 10 exhibitors agreed this is a reason for their participation at events.  They build their brand, the awareness of their products, and improve the name recognition of their company.  Raising awareness is even more important for new companies, new exhibitors, or companies entering new geographical or vertical markets.

2)  72% of Exhibitors Exhibit for Leads

Fill my pipeline!  72% of exhibitors say they exhibit to get leads from new buyers and prospects.  Trade shows are a major method for lead generation for business-to-business companies.  Exhibitors bring back piles of leads to fill the pipeline of their sales force.  Exhibitors can qualify the leads right at the show and move them farther down the buying cycle.

3)  70% of Exhibitors Exhibit to Build Partnerships

Let’s make a deal!  70% of exhibitors say they exhibit to create and or strengthen industry relationships or partnerships.  This demonstrates that trade shows add significant value beyond their value in reaching clients and prospects.  Trade shows are where an industry gathers, and it’s often the best time to forge and renew alliances with partners, not just interact with buyers.

4)  65% of Exhibitors Exhibit to See Current Clients

Of course it is very valuable to see your buyers face-to-face.  65% of exhibitors agree they exhibit to see their current clients.  It’s harder every day to get face time with overworked clients while they are in their office, so trade shows give exhibitors that opportunity.  And in their trade show displays, exhibitors can reveal new products, cross-sell and up-sell clients on other products, and just make sure everything is okay and that their relationship is strong.

5)  58% of Exhibitors Exhibit to Network With Industry Colleagues and Vendors

Beyond partners and clients, exhibitors also like to see their industry colleagues and vendors.  That’s why 58% agree it’s one of the reasons they exhibit at trade shows.  It’s a great time to catch up and find out what’s the buzz and pulse of the industry – what are the major issues, what are the hot new products, what companies have been doing well or poorly.  Trade shows also offer a chance to build up and strengthen exhibitors’ network, whether it’s to start potential sales, keep tabs on competitors, or find future places to work.

6) 54% of Exhibitors Exhibit Because of Competition

More than half of exhibitors say they exhibit at trade shows because their competition is there.  These exhibitors want to protect their existing client relationships, and not be left out when attendees are looking for new solutions.  They figure that if their competition is at the show, then the clients must be there, too.  However, this is a defensive reason to exhibit.  Once exhibitors have better measurement of each shows results, and can compare each show’s attendee profile against their ideal client profile, they tend to care less about if their competition is at the show, and more about each show’s ROI and audience match.

7)  52% of Exhibitors Exhibit to Support Industry or Association

We’re in this together: 52% of exhibitors agree that they exhibit to support the industry or association.  About half of all trade shows are owned by an association, and the revenues from the show supply the majority of that association’s budget.  By exhibiting at the show they help their industry association facilitate education and networking of its members, and to fund advocacy and lobbying efforts on their behalf.

8)  52% of Exhibitors Exhibit to See Many Buyers At One Time

52% of exhibitors say they exhibit because it allows them to see many buyers at one time.  Think about it – thousands of trade show attendees actually pay to visit the show, walk down the aisles, and then walk by your trade show booth!  It would take many months of direct sales to equal the number of buyers you can meet with while exhibiting at a trade show.

That’s 8 reasons over 50% of exhibitors agree with!

Those are the 8 reasons for exhibiting that over 50% of exhibitors agree with.  Which is a powerful indicator why trade shows are so valuable – trade shows don’t just provide one thing, they provide many things that marketers value.

As an exhibitor, this list may also give you ideas on how to more fully harvest the potential value of trade shows, or perhaps how to better explain their value to trade show nay-sayers.

Why do you value trade shows?  For the reasons above?  Or some other reason?  Let us know in the comment box below.

Value of Trade Shows White PaperYou can read more about the value of trade shows – including another 7 reasons why exhibitors value them – in the 24 page white paper The Value of Trade ShowsClick here to request your free copy.


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About the Author

Mike Thimmesch is the Principal at Thimmesch Marketing. For over 25 years, he has created and implemented innovative marketing, lead generation, and exhibiting strategies that profitably grow company sales and brand awareness. Mike rose to Director level at Skyline Exhibits, where he helped generate over a half million leads, resulting in over $1 billion in sales. He published 11 industry white papers and eight exhibiting books, presented over 100 trade show webinars, and wrote over 200 exhibit marketing blog posts.

7 responses to “Top 8 Reasons Exhibitors Value Trade Shows

  1. We are a trade association and support a whole industry. We have membership options, education, and a big tradeshow. We are expanding the show to add in a retail sector. There is another tradeshow that is our direct competition for the retail side of our industry. I am trying to find reasons to get vendors to exhibit at ours as well as ours. I am not asking them for one or the other but to try ours out. The opposition has been that vendors don’t want to spend more money just to see the same people that they do at the other shows. We have more added value to we offer the industry but how can show value to the vendors that we want to show?

    1. Hello Aubrey,

      Even if you have a competing trade show, your show may still give potential exhibitors ways to profitably grow their business. If your show is at a different time of year, you can give them access to show goers who are in a different stage of the buying cycle compared to the other show. If you are in a different geographical region, you may give them more of an audience from that area. No attendee walks a show and visits every exhibitor — by exhibiting at your show, your exhibitors get another bite at the apple. And finally, you may be surprised how many attendees simply choose to go to one of the two industry shows, and so there is less attendee overlap that expected. Measure all this with surveys and audience profiles, and then make you can make your case.

  2. There have been a few trade shows in our area, and I wanted to see what the benefits of them are. It’s interesting that they actually lead to new buyers and prospects! I’m sure that there are people starting out that are new that need the publicity.

  3. My wife and I recently got home from a trade show. We really enjoyed looking at a bunch of different products that were offered by a variety of different companies. I didn’t realize that companies love trade shows because they are able to create or strengthen relationships with other companies in their industry. I’ll remember that next time I go to a trade show.

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