Creating Value From Events and Trade Shows

Events and trade shows are not what they were a decade ago. In the past, you had to attend events if you wanted to figure out what was happening in your industry and interact with potential clients. They were your once- or twice-a-year opportunity to schmooze executives and sell your services. Now, they’ve evolved into new experiences. But what do the changes mean for your company, and is attending or hosting an event still worth the effort?

Yes, it’s still important to attend events and trade shows. They simply need to be viewed in a different light. As long as you look at your success based on the evolution, you’ll find that they are still highly effective. So, what changes are most important to understand?

Event Attendance

There’s no doubt that event attendance has decreased in recent years, but that doesn’t mean you can’t generate a viable audience. According to Social Fresh, sixty-seven percent of B2B content marketers still consider event marketing to be their most effective strategy. And a survey from Eventbrite and Hubspot found that 84 percent of people believe that attending events is an important part of their job. So don’t let the decline in attendance scare you. Trade shows and events still work, as long as the topic, content and attendees are well chosen. For solution providers, events are an opportunity to connect with end users as well as with vendors and distributors as well as to meet potential clients.

Event Goals

Event goals have also changed in recent years. According to a recent survey by BtoB and Marketo, and as revealed in our recent blog on Setting Company and Audience Goals for Your Next Event, there are four common event marketing goals: lead generation, customer engagement, brand building, and education/training.

  • Lead Generation: 83 percent of companies want to generate leads. Nowadays there are thousands of companies and individuals clamoring for your client’s attention; an event is your opportunity to shut out the other voices and get one-on-one interaction.
  • Customer Engagement: 72 percent of companies want to increase customer engagement. Relationships with vendors and clients have become very personal thanks to the internet and social media. Nothing is more personal than an event or trade show where you put a face to your brand.
  • Brand Building: 72 percent of companies want to build their brand. Whether you’re hosting the event or showing up as an attendee, events and trade shows are opportunities to demonstrate your services and solutions.
  • Education and Training: 57 percent of companies want to provide product education and training. When it comes to events and trade shows today, it’s more important than ever to evaluate the benefits of attending an event to determine if it is right for your company and worth the investment. If you can find the right events for your company, they will be well worth the effort.


Probably the greatest update to events and trade shows during the last decade is the availability of technology. Now, many trade shows include downloadable smartphone apps that attendees can use to keep track of information, review the schedule, and even see the trade show floor layout. Then, there’s the ability to communicate with attendees and vendors easily and immediately through email and text message, allowing you to widely share last-minute changes and updates while also garnering new contacts to add to your database. Technology has also afforded vendors and exhibitors the opportunity to create interactive booths. Simple banners are no longer enough to set you apart in a massive exhibition hall. You need to use video and hands-on technology demonstrations to entice attendees to interact with you in your booth.


In the past, exhibitors and event attendees could only measure their ROI based on lead generation. However, now ROI can be taken so much further. Bloomberg Businessweek based the ROI success of the Detroit Auto Show on the volume of tweets per car brand. So now customer engagement online during and after events has become just as important of a success factor. And according to an Eventbrite survey, ROI is also based on the value of the content you provide and receive—75 percent of people believe events are a valuable source of content. You can now evaluate just about every aspect of your trade show from the number of visitors to your booth to your sales generated and your ability to stay within budget.

Even today’s events and trade shows that scarcely resemble those of the past can still prove worthwhile. Many vendors and distributors, such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP Inc., still host and attend trade shows and see them as valuable opportunities to make connections and create demand. If you keep the evolution in mind and use the new tools at your disposal, you can increase the value of the events you attend and of those you produce.