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How NOT to waste money on Tradeshows (Part One)

Many are guilty of it. I know that I, myself, have been guilty of it in the past up until very recently.
I’m talking about wasting time and money on tradeshows.

In the Btb world, tradeshows have been the backbone of marketing for many, many years. But things are changing – and for many, now would be a good time to consider if tradeshows are still a good marketing investment.

With the rise of a.o. digital marketing, there are now more channels to reach potential customers than there were just a few years ago, and while tradeshows may still be a good option for some, I think most of us should be carefully considering whether we still want to invest our marketing dollars into this channel.

Return of Marketing Investment

There may be good reasons as to why you are still attending tradeshows, but you need to be sure that they are the right reasons. Too many companies do tradeshows for historical reasons, or because sales likes the way it ‘puts them in front of a lot of customers and potential customers.

But, let’s face it, just because there are a lot of attendees, doesn’t necessarily mean that the event is going to translate into a lot of business – at least not business that you probably wouldn’t have banked anyway.

What your salesteam usually don’t have, is the insight on the Return On Marketing Investment (ROMI). You have – or at least you should have!

Tradeshows can cost anything from a few thousand dollars to many hundred of thousands of dollars – and that is just to be there. Add to that the cost of your stand, the marketing collateral and merchandise, travel and hotel cost and your sales team’s time away from their normal duties – and you will most likely need a significant ROMI to justify the event.

The right business for tradeshows?

I find that tradeshows works best for companies selling products where customers benefit from touching the product. I.e. very tangible products, such as; clothes, toys and other products where there is a real benefit in seeing and feeling the products.

In reality, most of these products are in the BtC or at least BtBtC category.

Let’s face it, if you are a BtB marketeer – more often than not – your product is best shown on a computer screen, or in a brochure. And if that is the case, then maybe there are better marketing options for you than the tradeshow.

However, if you – after considering all of the above – are still convinced that tradeshows are right for you, then now comes the time to ensure that you do whatever you can to optimize your investment and ensure that the tradeshow will be a success.

In part two and three of this article, I will outline what I think is important to do before, during and after attending an event, to ensure the biggest possible ROMI.

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GrumpyCMO is where I air my thoughts on marketing. I'm Bo Ekkelund, and I have been in the marketing field for more than 15 years. The blog is called GrumpyCMO, as I call it as I see it. I see a lot of hype in marketing and I see a lot of very basic mistakes being made in marketing and this is where I tell the world about it. Oh, and I also air my thoughts on marketing strategy, marketing's place in the organization and the changing challenges of CMO's. Some of the articles on this site have also been published on other sites, such as Marketcommunity and LinkedIn.