Power of trade shows

With FIT Show 2021 just four months away, event director Nickie West discusses the power of trade shows within the marketing mix.

Trade shows, conferences and face-to-face business all but ground to a halt  when Covid hit last March.

When Zoom meetings, webinars and virtual event alternatives were launched, engagement was often low and the feedback poor. I would ask if any of the alternatives to physical events can ever really replace the power of face-to-face business.

The fenestration industry remained buoyant over the last year and I believe that few businesses would actually say that their absence from trade shows in 2020 negatively impacted sales. However, while business-to-business sales can arguably survive a year or two without a trade show, the value of increased sales from the event will  always far outweigh any cost savings from not exhibiting in the short term.

Exhibiting at trade shows drives sales in three main ways: continued sales to existing customers; sales to new buyers dissatisfied with their current providers; and buyers attracted to a new offering.

FIT Show is a great platform to launch new products, including new variants of old products. I’ve always championed the fact that an exhibitor’s product may be new to someone walking through the halls of FIT Show for the first time.

These visitors may not know that a particular product exists, might not understand what it does, and may not have taken the time to research its benefits to them. This is where FIT Show plays one of the most important roles in the path to conversion. It’s a vital, physical touchpoint in the customer journey that cannot be replicated through any other channel.

Since the last FIT Show in 2019, and during the down time of the pandemic, the biggest innovators have been investing in new product development, streamlining operations, and looking at new and exciting ways to connect with customers. And FIT Show in September will be the perfect platform for them to do just that. It will offer that chance for customers to see, touch and play with all of the latest products under one roof. What other marketing channel allows you to do all of that?

Evan Francis, marketing manager for Renson, which will headline the new outdoor living feature at FIT Show in September, said: “We rely on trade shows to bolster our year-round marketing activity. The face-to-face interaction that you get with people at every level of a business via exhibitions continues to justify their place within our marketing mix.

“Events such as FIT Show provide the perfect platform for us to bring our clients and prospects together, in one place, to meet face to face, either for the first time, or to re-establish connections. Trade shows are an essential part of our marketing strategy and we cannot wait to get back to them when we exhibit at FIT Show in September.”

We know that an estimated 85% of trade show attendees will not have been seen before by a brand’s sales force. And we also know that over 90% of these attendees plan to purchase in the next 12-15 months of visiting a show. FIT Show delivers a captive audience of 10,000 visitors who are all in the market to purchase the products and services on display.

It costs 22% less to contact a potential buyer at a show than through traditional channels, and that’s before you factor in the immeasurable benefits of being able to connect buyers with your products, en masse and in person. No other marketing technique allows a brand to connect and engage all the senses in the way that exhibitions do.

I believe that exhibitions in general are set for a harder and faster return than we could have possibly envisaged at the start of the pandemic. Exhibitions are about so much more than just generating business. They are the primary platform to reunite with lapsed customers, agents, distributors, friends, colleagues, job opportunities – all the things that we’ve so desperately missed.

I’ll look forward to welcoming the whole industry back to FIT Show at the NEC in September.