Trade Shows: Relevant or Wasteful?

Trade shows seem to be a frequent topic of debate throughout many organizations in multiple industries. The shifting preferences of businesses and consumers in regard to how they develop relationships with vendors are the basis for the debate. With the great migration to digital information and products at our fingertips, we have to ask ourselves: Is investing in events like trades hows still relevant, or is it wasteful?

The Pros and Cons

Pro 1: Deliver your pitch face-to-face

One thing that hasn’t changed in the digital evolution is the power of face time. Speaking directly to a potential client or customer is advantageous for developing a relationship and increasing engagement.

Pro 2: It just takes one good lead to make the show a success

Depending on the size of the potential deal or transaction, you may only need one quality lead to generate a positive ROI at the tradeshow.

Con 1: Can be expensive

Renting floor space at a trades how isn’t cheap and there are other associated costs with trades hows such as travel, accommodations, and meals.

Con 2: Are time consuming

Setting aside time to attend and travel to a trade show means you may not be able to operate business as usual. There are opportunity costs with anything that takes time.

Breakdown: The pros and cons associated with trade shows are essentially the same with any other marketing investment. However, trades hows are one of the only marketing investments that provide you the opportunity to meet potential clients face-to-face aside from door-to-door marketing. The pros certainly outweigh the cons, but don’t just take our word for it—the stats speak for themselves:

Stats that Support Investing in Trade Shows

99% of marketers said they found unique value from trade shows they did not get from other marketing mediums.
Source: Center for Exhibition Industry Research

81% of trade show attendees have buying authority and 46% are in Executive or Upper Management.
Source: Center for Exhibition Industry Research

67% of all attendees represent a new prospect and potential customer for exhibiting companies.
Source: Exhibit Surveys, Inc.

Making the most of it

Take advantage of the time away from the office and your family to set up meetings and deepen relationships. Choose the right trade show to attend and the majority of the contacts you will meet should be interested in your product/services, making each interaction more meaningful.


  • Set priorities and objectives for the show.
  • Do your research on which potential clients will be there and prepare a personalized pitch.
  • Send personal emails to attending clients to let them know you will be attending. You may have the opportunity to deepen relationships with them and they might be able to give you referrals for other industry contacts that are attending and may have a use for your services.
  • Keep it professional. Be sure to look the part and don’t overdo it at the hotel bar.

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