Why go to a trade show, as an exhibitor or visitor, now that so much business is done online? Are trade shows still relevant in today’s brave new digital world? Maybe you think the whole idea is just a quaint hangover from an earlier era – and well past its ‘sell by’ date? You may think that you can achieve much more, with a much smaller investment of time and money, by using the latest digital tools? These views are common – but misguided. Trade shows are still immensely valuable, and relevant, for the following reasons:
Sales, sales, sales.
We’ve been told, repeatedly, that face to face selling is old hat and you can do it all through ecommerce, email, LinkedIn, social media and the like. Well how’s that going for you? You’ve probably discovered it’s frustratingly hard work and the results are disappointing. Why? Because people still like to buy from people they trust. And trust seems to be in fairly short supply right now. The bottom line is that people are more comfortable buying from those they can look in the eye and where it’s easy to see what’s on offer. Flip that around and the same is true if you are buying. If you want to find suppliers you can trust then there’s nowhere better than a trade show. Why waste your valuable time comparing products and competitors online when you can meet them all under one roof?
Come to your senses.
If your business involves food or drink then trade shows are indispensable. You simply cannot see, smell, touch and taste products online and so it’s impossible to make meaningful judgments about visual appeal, flavour, texture, aroma or packaging. You can’t get the scent of a gin from a video, the creamy texture of a soft cheese from a website, the quality of tablecloths from a brochure, the flavour of smoked fish from an Instagram post – these are sensual experiences best provided by a trade show. The same goes for virtually all products and services – whether it’s scented soap or a handcrafted wind charm, an innovative EPOS system or the latest coffee machine, waste management solutions or stock control systems; there’s nothing better than getting hands-on with the products you’re interested in and/or seeing a demonstration of how they work.
Compare and contrast.
It’s easy to make meaningful comparisons between competing offerings when they’re all laid out side by side under one roof. The differences will be more apparent and you can also ask probing questions about the products you’re interested in – much better than trying to find the answers you need from a list of FAQs! Also, you can decide which people you’d prefer to do business with – only by meeting them face-to-face can you get a feel for whether they are over-promising or will genuinely go the extra mile to help you.
The value of strong personal relationships is intangible, but incalculable! It’s also overlooked in today’s digitally dominated world where personal contact is being squeezed out by the constant pressure to do things more quickly. If you want the best deals, excellent advice, more responsive service and help when you find yourself in a tight situation, then taking the time to meet people and getting to know them personally is a really smart investment of effort – and there’s nowhere better than a trade show for doing this effectively. Face to face is the best way to meet the people behind the products, and to build long term relationships with them. The best deals are done in person, not over the phone!
Keep your finger on the pulse.
A trade show is the perfect place to get a better understanding of what’s happening in your industry right now. Things are changing faster than ever before and it’s much easier to spot emerging trends at a trade show. You can keep tabs on what your competitors are doing, find new products, suppliers and partners, and get a better awareness of different resources and initiatives that may prove beneficial to your business. There are often also talks, seminars, demonstrations and workshops full of useful tips and advice – all of which helps to stimulate new ideas that’ll drive your business forward.
Business and pleasure.
The final reason for attending a trade show…? It’s fun! You can catch up with your current suppliers and friends, as well as finding new ones, in a relaxed, informal, and friendly environment. Even if you can only get away from the office for a few hours, the benefits of attending make it more than worth while. A trade show is a great way in which to recharge your batteries, rediscover your enthusiasm and to reinvigorate your business.
We get it!
At Hale Events we carefully design our trade shows with all of these features and benefits in mind. Whilst happy to embrace the exciting new opportunities provided by innovative technology, with our bespoke SugarCRM system, innovative visitor registration system, online show catalogues, and our soon to be unveiled Lead Capture app for example, we also realise the limitations. Contactless may be good for credit cards but business building is best done face to face and with all of one’s senses fully enabled!