Thrill of the Hunt

Are Trade Shows Dead?

Blog post   •   Aug 23, 2017 10:40 EDT

Are Trade Shows Dead?

Short answer, No. Trade Shows are NOT dead.

In fact, trade shows are favorably looked upon for their effectiveness and return on investment (ROI)*. Let's explore some basics that lead up to the ROI.

In-person events and B2B trade shows are sought after by vendors, partners, participants, industry leaders and more. Keep in mind, the industry focus plays a major role in the popularity of the event, as well as other factors like location, date, vendors and so on.

Know Your Event

Most companies attend specific trade shows or a select number of trade shows throughout the year. Some events may have a similar focus, drawing the same vendors from one show to the next, while others may not. Always research the trade show and investigate the attending exhibitors, the speakers and such to ensure your company is properly targeted and to uncover opportunities. It's a good practice to revisit the goals and objectives with each trade show to maintain relevance or to adjust as needed.

It's a good practice to revisit the goals and objectives with each trade show to maintain relevance or to adjust as needed.


You signed up for a trade show, now what?

Goals and Objectives

First things first. Goals and objectives need to be outlined in detail. These will come in handy when determining the effectiveness of the event and when evaluating how to approach the same trade show the following year, or maybe skipped altogether. Depending on your company or department, the marketing efforts to accomplish the goals and objectives may need to be submitted to finances or another department for review and approval prior to commencing.

Make sure to include, traffic and database expectations, online exposure, social media stats, and inquiries, along with closed deals or proposals as part of the goals. All aspects are important for the overall success of the trade show and ultimately company success.


Your company or organization needs to have a clearly defined message, along with supportive graphics that are properly branded. Sure this could be something as basic as your company's brand, however, stand out with a unique theme. This could be used for all the yearly scheduled trade shows, or for a specific event. Make sure to incorporate all marketing efforts, including pre and post, into the theme for consistency and to make a big splash.

Collateral & Marketing Pieces

Naturally, your company should have or is in the process of developing a trade show booth and graphics. Always double check your company's reserved space to meet the venue's specifications.

Trade show graphics should be designed around the company's theme or message and properly branded to maintain corporate standards. Using the same trade show booth year after year is pretty standard, considering the costs, but be creative. Change up the graphics, use a video presentation, specific representatives or use other collateral pieces to carry the theme.

All marketing pieces and graphics should have consistency with the brand message. It never hurts to develop brochures, pamphlets or other printed pieces designed specifically for the trade show using the theme. However, if you have relevant marketing pieces, allow the sales team to use them for added support. Repurposing collateral pieces is a great way to save on expenses.

What about promotional items?

Sure trade shows are known for the abundance of tchotchkes of all shapes, sizes and price tags. Are they really effective? Depends. Instead of guessing or experimenting with these giveaways, use them as part of a bigger strategy. Like what? A trade show scavenger hunt.

Scavenger Hunt

A trade show scavenger hunt has many benefits including:

Increased trade show booth traffic

Interaction between sales team, customers/prospects, and other exhibitors/partners

Additional online exposure and attention

A trade show scavenger hunt can be used in tandem with pre and post marketing efforts to really maximize marketing support and accomplish said goals and objectives. A scavenger hunt can be used as a vehicle to educate your participants on your message, company or brand or to pass out promotional items in a unique fashion. There are many more benefits to using a trade show scavenger hunt as part of your marketing game plan. Check out other Trade Show ideas.


It's no secret that participating in a trade show comes with a price tag, in some cases a large price tag. Let's address the elephant in the room, the return on investment. Depending on your goals and objectives, ROI can be easily ...

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