While every industry was shaken up by the pandemic, few came to more of a screeching halt during the early days of COVID-19 than the trade show industry. Since then, countless shows have been made virtual or canceled entirely, leaving their future unclear. Thankfully, for us and marketing teams everywhere, trade shows are back – and stronger than ever. But, some things have changed. Here are three trends that are gaining traction in the new normal of trade show marketing.
1) Advance Planning Is A Must
We’ve always advised companies to give themselves the longest lead times they can, allowing for planning, execution and inevitable changes along the way. But, the lead times of yesterday simply won’t get the job done today. As a result of problems with supply chain logistics, labor shortages and more, tasks like acquiring parts and shipping exhibits are taking a lot longer than they used to. As such, we recommend that clients give themselves at least twice the planning time they would have pre-pandemic.
2) Take Advantage Of Smaller Shows
Another trend we’ve seen nearly everywhere is lower show attendance. While marketers may initially be upset that shows with formerly large audiences have dwindled in size, it’s important to note that reduction in attendees isn’t necessarily negative. In fact, many companies are now only sending their top managers or executives to shows in an effort to save costs. This means that, even if fewer folks stop by your booth, they’re more likely to be decision-makers with purchasing power. In other words, attendees might be lower in quantity, but greater in quality.
Along the same lines, show size has generally decreased across the board, with fewer exhibitors at each. While this may again seem problematic, it’s really a silver lining for the companies that still exhibit. After all, smaller companies that otherwise may have been lost in a sea of exhibitors will now have more opportunity to make a big splash and be seen. Seize the moment, and be bold.
Interested in taking your trade show marketing to the next level and embracing some of these trends? We’d love to help you get started!