Industry Trade Shows

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In the good old days, pre-Covid that is, trade shows were a big deal. For manufacturers, it was a chance to showcase new products, meet with key customers, generate sales leads, network with vendors and suppliers, visit with top industry consultants and hear from star power keynote speakers.  Attendees could elect specific breakout sessions to learn about the latest trends or innovations. For those of us in the agency business, there were abundant opportunities to learn about new stuff, make new connections, and pitch new business.

Will life ever be the same?

According to trade show industry data, attendance last year, while up versus 2022, was still 30 to 40%+ below pre-pandemic levels for manufacturers, food and business-oriented trade events. That said, survey respondents still preferred in-person events compared with virtual conferences. Some pundits predict that it will be 2025 before trade show attendance fully recovers.

How to get the most bang for your trade show buck.

For mid-sized companies who do not spend much on brand building or advertising, done right, trade shows can be thought of as a brand investment. Think about your booth if you are an exhibitor, the marketing collateral, the customer and prospect invitations that you send out in advance of the show, the proprietary research or innovations that you can introduce. All these elements need to be examined closely and executed with distinction, with a keen eye for bringing your value proposition to life. We stand ready to assist in strategy, messaging, and design to make your brand and sales team persuasive and memorable for upcoming 2024 shows.

The largest industry events (like FMI) tend to be chaotic, crowded, and hard to navigate. There are so many exhibitors, and the show is so spread out that it is a challenge to stand out in a sea of booths. Our advice is to resist upgrading to a larger booth or a premium show location. Rather, get out in front of the event with personal, high-level outreach to those customers and prospects with whom you most want to connect.

Set specific appointments at your booth or in a show meeting room, avoiding times when there are speakers that your clients will want to hear. Get your client entertainment invites out well in advance also, as those opportunities can be even better than the 15 to 20-minute show meeting appointment. Get commitments and follow up promptly to get closure.

Not exhibiting?

For some brands, the expense and preparation for an impactful trade show presence may be a bridge too far, or the revenue upside vs. the costs don’t add up. You can still get some value, particularly if you can secure a speaking role during a breakout session on a relevant topic. In addition to inviting clients and prospects to attend your breakout session, see if you can get a trade publication writer to come to your session. If you have an interesting and compelling story, the likelihood is better that you and your business are mentioned in a post event show publication.

In any event, make sure that you and your team attend those show sessions where you can learn about issues that you are wrestling with. Divide and conquer so that you can share highlights of those sessions once you are back in the office. Attending a trade show is a perk and a motivator for younger, high-potential players on your team. Just set clear expectations with assignments so you will receive a return on your investment in the cost of attending. Also, share what you learn with the broader team at home so that they also can benefit from fresh ideas and relevant case studies.

At Damen Jackson, we have the benefit of 24 years of working with almost 800 clients to help your brand stand out with powerful messaging and design that sells. And, yes, we have lots of industry events under our belt.

Importantly, we stand ready to help you grow your teams and your business. We are deep thinkers with the courage to tackle challenges large and small, whether you want an outside look at your brands, a focused project for a product launch, or a tune up for your messaging or look. Our fresh eyes are there to supplement and augment the experience of your leadership team, while multiplying the odds of discovering meaningful new revenue growth or sources of competitive advantage.

Let’s get some great work done!

Take the first step to a more successful business today.

1.    CLICK HERE to schedule a free 30-minute discussion. No pressure – we promise.
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