It's Trade Show Time

  • Jul 10, 2022

After more than 2 years of freezes on many trade shows, exhibitors and attendees alike are fired up to mix and mingle in person again. While the year ahead may not look like the good ol’ days of 2019, trade shows are making a comeback. This year, the trade-show industry is projected to increase by more than 22%, according to market researcher IBISWorld. By 2023, Statista, a German research and data operation, projects the global B2B trade-show market will exceed $40 billion. Pre-pandemic, trade shows generated more than $1 trillion in direct spending. Two-thirds of companies that exhibit at trade shows say cancellations had a significant impact on their business. Half said missing out on trade shows negatively affected their ability to generate new business.

The trade-show business is big business in nearly every industry. An estimated 60 million people traverse trade-show floors every year, with about 13,000 trade shows taking place in the United States alone, according to a study from marketing group Nimlock. So, what do all these trade shows look like? You can typically classify them into three main categories: industry-specific trade shows, consumer trade shows and trade shows that target both industries and consumers.

There’s no substitution for the face-to-face conversations, cocktails and connections at trade shows, but that doesn’t mean digital offerings, largely invented during the pandemic, are going away. About a third of marketers plan to take a hybrid approach with their trade shows this year, according to Statista, offering both in-person and virtual events. Thirty percent plan to hold their events exclusively in person while 40% project their events will be all virtual in 2022.

Whether attendees plan to explore a trade show in person or online, marketers can connect with them in personalized, tangible ways through logoed products. From branded lanyards upon arrival to customized gifts mailed to attendees, promotional products can welcome attendees, capture their attention and help brands stand out on the virtual or in-person trade-show floor.

The average trade-show attendee spends 8.3 hours strolling the show floor. Promotional products can help draw these attendees to booths and engage them once they arrive. For example, consider hosting mini education sessions and giving booth visitors logoed notepads and pens. Or, rejuvenate booth visitors by bringing in a masseuse and offering five-minute chair massages. Send these relaxed prospects off with a logoed massager and bottle of water.

Trade shows are back

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