Trade Show Awareness

Trade Shows these days are a funny thing, as mentioned in my previous article, costs are up and attendance is down. There still are those heavy hitting decision makers walking the floors however, making choices on whether to attend, how much to spend, how to niche your services, etc., etc, harder to figure out. I just read this past week that McCormick Place in Chicago just lost 2 of it’s largest shows for 2010. The trade show business is definitely a fluid one at best, but I think that there are some ways in which you can leverage the chaos in your favor, especially if you are a small or medium sized business that may not have to rely entirely on tier one, national trade shows to increase your business.

The fact of the matter is that national venues like McCormick Place, The Javitz Center, The Moscone Center are losing their luster in favor of venues like Orlando and even smaller places like The World Trade Center Boston, and resort settings. No, these smaller halls can’t handle big shows, but they do a very good job hosting targeted, niche trade shows and conferences. The question every business considering a trade show must answer is, “Is there enough business to be had in these “boutique” type events?”

A real world example of making these decisions is Bokland’s own experience in trade shows. Twice we have attended the national “Global Shop” trade show, focussing on the point of purchase market on a national level. There were great national prospects walking the show, but there were also literally thousands hundreds of companies competing for their attention. In the end, we walked away with the warm and fuzzy feeling that we had done a national show and looked pretty good doing it, only to find that the ROI never quite came around.

tradeshowawareness-hpim0672 Bokland, At Global Shop 2005, a $30,000 investment in a Trade Show
By contrast, last year Bokland attended the National Brewers Conference in Boston at the World Trade Center. This particular show was two days, cost 1/10 of the amount it cost to do the national show and focussed very specifically on a small niche market. We were able to make a smaller space work for us, we could identify our prospects easily, and weren’t competing with the proverbial 800 lb. gorillas of our industry. We walked away with more business from this specialty trade show than we did displaying twice at the national level. We also advanced our presence as a leader in our particular field within this industry and continue to do so by leveraging this strategy.
tradeshowawareness-p4210652 Bokland at The National Brewers Conference, a $3000 Trade Show Investment

At the end of the day, we all have to ask ourselves where we fit within our industries. Some, unquestionably, have to work on a national level, but the vast majority of small and medium sized service companies do have a choice in regard to what trade shows they attend, and should without question make this a part of their decision making process!

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