The future of the trade fair in times of crisis (B2B and B2C):

When you ask sales and marketing managers about the R.O.I. of fairs and the marketing impact they have, you often hear arguments such as: too expensive, old-fashioned, overtaken by virtual events or inefficient:

We are subject to change or development and that is no different for companies. Before the internet (for some of us hard to imagine), we got our information from the Yellow Pages, trade journals or newspaper advertisements. And we advertised extensively in print media or advertising on television. And … we went to a trade fair to meet new (or existing) customers and vice versa suppliers.

The arrival of the internet changed the entire playing field in which we find ourselves as consumers and therefore also how companies do marketing.

The Internet has speeded up our doings in general. Nowadays it is almost impossible to keep track of what is being offered and sold on social media. Product launches no longer have to wait for the trade fair, which will only take place in a few months. Once the marketing strategy has been determined, it will be on the internet a minute later.

But does this mean that the role of trade fares is becoming obsolete?

The role of the trade fair has indeed diminished over the years. Yet there are still many public and trade fairs. And with that, many have continued to embrace personal contact, because one can also get an immediate response from a potential customer. You can track quite a lot via the internet, but you don’t get a direct personal response, and when you do get one, you often don’t know how to interpret it correctly.

What is an advantage of the internet is that you can get much more direct feedback, and by that I mainly mean the “unsalted” opinion of the customer, especially when it would not be so positive. As a sales and marketing person, you can learn something from this … it is feedback that you would probably receive much less at a trade fair, where there is personal contact … or at least more moderately.

And yet … if anything has become clear from the period of Covid-19, with all its lockdowns, is how much we really like personal contact. How the lack means that we no longer know what we are doing. Zooming, teams, google-meeting, it’s all there, but we’re actually soon fed-up with it,

And the good news is: if you consciously apply your trade fair marketing later, the offer is sometimes even before we start.

Still making a substantial contribution to business objectives

However you look at it, the ultimate goal of the fair is to achieve results in the short or long term. ROI is therefore decisive. The result can be a higher turnover, but also as many new contacts as possible or launching a product or recruiting sponsors for ideological goals. So you are basically trying to sell your company. With the ultimate goal of increasing your turnover.

You need a clear message for that. Because why does that visitor have to choose your company from all the offers? Try to be unique in your message or exhibition presentation.

A trade fair remains an ideal place to come into contact with new and existing customers. For the visitor it is often also a pleasant day out instead of “another day at the office”. Gaining new knowledge and seeing new solutions also gives the visitor impulses to further develop their own company.

A good conversation at the fair with a lead always creates opportunities.

The perfect moment for direct feedback from your customer

So you immediately receive a response from interested parties at a trade fair. Positive and negative. With both “must” and you can do something. You soon find out what works and what doesn’t work.

You quickly learn from your target group what is going on. Do you get questions about your product/service that might give you ideas to further develop it. Your interlocutor may also bring to light things you hadn’t thought of before.

In addition, you can also see how your competitor presents itself to customers live. Every company can build a beautiful website, but you don’t get to know how the company really works and what the deeper thoughts are. At a fair you can meet the “competition” live and see how they “sell” themselves to the target group.

Where is the focus of your competitor and what are the latest developments with them. Use it to your advantage. Don’t just sell at a fair, but also compare yourself to others.

Ideal to increase your brand awareness

People don’t easily do business with companies they don’t know. You have to be visible for that. Research has shown that a potential buyer must have had a contact moment at least 7 times if he is to think about making a rapprochement.

Your company name must first ‘land’ and consumer confidence must grow. Exhibiting at a trade fair contributes to this, because exhibiting at a trade fair still gives a company a certain status. “You don’t just go to a trade fair.”

So you can rest assured that visibility at a reputable fair strengthens your reputation. And that in turn increases the trust people have in your company. Your organization is serious, reliable and exudes leadership.

Just like with an impressively built internet site, you can appear bigger at a trade show than you are at the time. Of course you do that to gain trust

The trade fair is still increasing turnover

I’m still thinking about it.” Let your lead walk away like this and in most cases you will never see him or her again. An (impulse) purchase is based on strong feelings and a good salesperson removes as many barriers as possible.

As already mentioned, trade fair visitors are highly motivated. They came especially to the event and often in buying mode. Take advantage of that. Try to sell direct as much as possible when people are in the right mood. If the amounts are too high or trade fair visitors do not have decision-making powers, make follow-up appointments for the period after the trade fair. Being persistent is the key for success in these matters.

Conclusion: no, the virtual fair will not be able to replace the trade fair on several fronts and that mainly has to do with personal contact, ROI and image of your company.

However, the internet does not rest on its laurels either and the tech companies are already busy with Metaverse fairs, where you visit a trade fair through your Avatar and have interactive contact with your contact person from the company in their virtual booth . By 2025, by the way, we should all be able to get at least 20% of our professional needs on the Metaverse… curious to see what interesting possibilities this will bring.

But in any case … we are social beings and will always want to maintain personal contacts, and in terms of marketing budget (R.O.(M).I., a fair still remains a very efficient and profitable investment, if you know how to use your resources correctly

Wondering how I can help you develop a future proof marketing plan or if you need a completely new strategy, request a free brainstorming session by clicking on the link below.

About the author

Business Strategies

Every month we share with you the most up-to-date & inspiring business strategies from home and abroad. This way you stay “already one step ahead” in the development of your future-proof company!

Subscribe for our newsletter

Case Studies