BtoB

Survey finds disconnect among trade show exhibitors

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Las Vegas—Believing trade shows are a valuable tactic, business marketers continue to exhibit, even as they lack appropriate metrics to support this claim and spend relatively little time on their trade show strategies, according to results of a survey released last week at the Business Marketing Association’s annual conference.

While half of those respondents that exhibit at trade shows are not seeing results, nearly three-quarters of them plan to exhibit at the same level or greater next year.

“The data show your trade show programs are fundamentally broken,” said Tim Roberts, president of Catalyst Exhibits, in a release. “It defies logic and is counter-intuitive.” Roberts presented the survey results at the BMA conference.

Eighty-two percent of respondents view leads as an important factor in making a decision to exhibit at trade shows, and 81% cited building brand identity and awareness. However, fewer than half (48%) actually count sales, and it is unclear if those sales are strictly from the trade show floor.

Trade shows represent the largest part (23.6%) of the overall marketing communications budget. However, almost 60% of the companies surveyed admitted to spending less than 20% of their time developing and implementing trade show strategy.

The survey also found:
  • Three out of four respondents exhibit at trade shows, with an average of 18 shows per year.
  • 74% of respondents plan to exhibit at the same number or more shows this year compared with last.
  • 57% indicated they would be interested in supporting an industrywide initiative to audit and publish attendance data on key trade shows and events.
  • 18% of the trade show budget is spent on booth services, but only 10% is spent on customer-facing marketing opportunities, such as sponsorships or hosted events.
The survey sample of 847 was culled by the BMA and Readex Research from corporate members of the BMA. In addition, a survey sample of 9,009 was selected by BtoB from its e-newsletter and print subscriber circulation lists. Data were collected electronically in April. The survey yielded 416 usable responses, or a 4% response rate.

—Ellis Booker
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