International Trade Shows, are they worth it?

By Michael R. Czinkota and Ilkka Ronkainen

More than 24,500 trade shows yield an annual $100 billion in revenue worldwide which means that even in this hyper-digital age, marketers and customers still find these events worthwhile.

Executives surveyed on trade shows ‘ usefulness have said that exhibitions provide unique value not found in other marketing channels. Firms appreciate the personal interaction with their stakeholders. Clients can, in turn, evaluate product matches.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Buyer Program (IBP), a joint government-industry effort, recruited nearly 13,500 prospective buyers from international markets to come to U.S. trade events in order to meet U.S. exporters. For example, Pack Expo shows consistently welcome visitors from more than 120 nations and provide them with access to the latest technologies, as well as networking opportunities and education programs. As a result, the IBP is said to generate more than $900 million in exports. More than 49% of this growth came from U.S. firms that exported to a new market.

Further, the costs of closing a sale through trade shows are estimated to be much lower than closing a sale through personal representation. Th e average cost of making the first face-to-face contact with a potential customer through an exhibition lead is $96, compared with $1,039 without.

Read the full article here: trade shows April 2015

Michael R. Czinkota researches international business and policy issues at Georgetown University. He served in trade policy positions in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.

Ilkka A. Ronkainen is a member of the faculty of marketing and international business at Georgetown University. Their joint book is International Marketing, 10th Edition.


Why Utilize Trade Shows?

Trade shows or fairs are a long-standing European tradition and one of the most significant cost items in a global marketing budget. A trade show is typically an event at which manufacturers, distributors, and other vendors display their products or describe their services to customers, prospects, suppliers, industry associates, and the trade press. Whether or not the company should participate depends on the type of business relationships desired within a particular country. When looking only for one-time or short-term sales, the expense might not be worth it. But if the goal is a long-term investment, it is probably worth the cost.

Companies participate in trade shows because:

  • They provide an excellent opportunity for introducing, promoting, and demonstrating new products to many people efficiently.
  • Appearing at shows helps generate goodwill and face-to-face customer contact.
  • It provides an opportunity for “[waving] the company flag” in front of the competition.
  • Participating helps boost sales force and distributor’s  morale.
  • It is a cost-effective way to meet with and screen potential intermediaries in a new-to-the-company-market.
  • Attending a show is an excellent way to meet government officials and decision-makers. In fact, the host government of the Chinese Export Commodities Fair held twice a year expects exporters to participate.
  • They offer potential for market research and gathering competitive intelligence because rivals are participating in shows, too.
  • There are opportunities to obtain data that helps marketers evaluate the effectiveness of a promotional campaign.
  • They can reach a large number of sales prospects in a brief period of time at a reasonable cost per contact. Some 82 percent of all attendees of the average trade fair have the power to recommend or making final purchasing decisions. In addition, people are there because they have a specific interest in the exhibits.
  • It can be a good place to find suppliers.

Capitalize on trade show participation by inviting key prospects to visit the booth or even better, the company’s hospitality suite where there is more privacy for negotiations. Use incentives to attract people to the booth; have systems in place to track leads generated and to evaluate show performance.

This is an excerpt from Dr. Czinkota’s book Global Business: Positioning Ventures Ahead, co-authored by Dr. Ilkka Ronkainen.

Michael R Czinkota and Ilkka A Ronkainen, Global Business: Positioning Ventures Ahead (New York: Routledge, 2011), pg. 130-132.

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