7 Reasons Why Tradeshows Are Still Essential For B2B Marketers

Matt Schoch

B2B marketers face a huge challenge: ensuring their messaging actually reaches the right audience. Companies in highly technical, incredibly niche industries (like the life sciences or contract manufacturing) can’t just cast a wide digital net and hope they snare their perfect customer. You need precision targeting that hits a (relative to consumer marketing) tiny group of decision-makers. This isn’t just tricky. With CPC prices skyrocketing on valuable keyphrases, it quickly gets expensive.

The job would become a whole lot easier, then, if you could corral all those decision-makers in a single room. Think of trade shows as audience-targeting cheat codes.

They offer a concentrated platform where your company can engage with exactly the right people. This setting fosters spontaneous interactions, facilitates meaningful conversations, and provides ample opportunities for networking, collaboration, and knowledge exchange.

The pandemic’s effect on inflating PPC investment hasn’t fully waned, yet trade shows are back and booming. That means in-person activations have massive ROI potential and should be part of your B2B tactical marketing mix. In this blog, we will cover 7 reasons why, and tips on how you can maximize your attendance based on your specific marketing goals.

business professionals walking in trade show action shot for blog: "7 Reasons Why Trade Shows Are Still Essential For B2B Marketers"

7 Reasons Why Trade Shows Are Still Essential For B2B Marketers

Networking is More Powerful in Person

Trade shows offer networking opportunities that are hard to replicate in digital settings. They provide face-to-face interactions, allowing personal connections to form. Additionally, trade shows bring together industry professionals from diverse backgrounds and specialties. You will likely meet people that you’d never think to target in a digital campaign. Be open to unplanned interactions, whether inside the exhibit hall or at the evening happy hour.

These new relationships open doors to future collaborations, partnerships, and business opportunities. Take these actionable steps to network with impact:

Prepare in Advance

Preview the list of exhibitors and attendees. Identify the individuals or organizations you want to connect with, scheduling the time in advance. Working under preset time blocks, you won’t rush from one event to the next. A deliberate timetable ensures your time is optimized.

The same can be said for key sessions, panels, or workshops. Set aside time to get involved in these events, as it maximizes your chance to connect with the right people.

Before meeting predetermined exhibitors, influencers, or other attendees, familiarize yourself with their backgrounds. Product and service knowledge, when done in advance, translates to a more constructive and engaging conversation.

Collect and Qualify Data

After each networking interaction, take notes. Include key discussion points, personal details, or other relevant information that can translate to future business. This qualifies the leads you’ve collected, as you can later organize your contacts based on follow-up actions.

Close the Deal

Networking is only effective when a relationship is fostered. Conduct a timely follow-up with your contacts through multiple communication channels. Propose clear-cut next steps to show you’re interested in a long-term relationship, not just a one-time interaction.

Messages should be customized, so use previously gathered qualifiers to reference talking points. Your organization will come across as credible, increasing the likelihood of a partnership or a sales close.

Take Advantage of Market Trends

Market research is crucial, as it identifies an organization’s target audience. Taking a target audience’s preferences into account, organizations can easily tailor their services or products to solve specific clients’ problems.

Trade shows serve as the perfect backdrop for market research. Take advantage of the various opportunities at your disposal; exhibitor booths, seminars, and expert-led discussions to gain industry insights that can transform your strategic decision-making.

By understanding market dynamics and customer needs, your organization can stay ahead of competitors in the rapidly evolving life sciences landscape.

Attract Eyes and Foot Traffic

A well-designed booth can attract and retain interested leads. Market your organization using interactive elements, engaging staff, giveaways, promotions, and multimedia content.

Showcase your organization’s products, services, and innovations directly to the audience, leading to increased exposure and potential sales.

Brand visibility at trade shows translates to credibility and authority within an industry. Trade show attendance demonstrates a commitment to engagement and participation in important industry events.

Generate and Solve Problems

Trade shows serve a two-part function. On one side, there are exhibitors proposing solutions, and on the other, there are attendees actively seeking solutions. Your booth should seek to present and address issues; whether it’s through product demonstrations or engaging staff.

The main call-to-action is the collection of contact information. When done during an event, you can qualify leads into precise, specialized lists for targeted engagement efforts.

Demonstrate New Products or Services

Product demonstrations give attendees firsthand experience of a product’s features, functionality, and benefits. This approach significantly impacts customers’ understanding of a product, making it more compelling.

Product demonstrations also showcase and attract a crowd, serving as an effective and powerful sales tool organizations can use. In fact, 92% of trade show attendees visit trade shows to discover new products and services.

Educate and Train Your Staff

Trade shows offer educational seminars, workshops, and training sessions on topics relevant to the industry. Attendees can learn about new technologies, best practices, and regulatory updates that can help them stay ahead of the curve and improve their skills and knowledge. Ideally, a representing team can split into multiple groups to glean as much information as possible during an event’s timeline.

Sessions offer training opportunities to learn how to effectively use new products, technologies, or methodologies. This hands-on learning experience empowers organizations to build familiarity with new industry tools.

See How You Stack Up

Competitor attendance may pull from the same lead pool, but it does offer its advantages. Competitive analysis allows organizations to gain insights into competitor strategies, products, and market positioning.

By understanding what competitors are offering and how they are presenting themselves, a life sciences organization can identify potential gaps in the market or areas where they can differentiate themselves. Trade shows also offer real-time performance benchmarking of one organization over another.

How to Execute an Effective Trade Show Strategy

With thousands of trade show events held each year across various industries, selecting the right one to attend can be a strategic decision for businesses. The choice largely depends on the organization’s objectives, target audience, and industry niche.

Conducting research on different trade shows, including focus areas, attendee demographics, and exhibitor profiles, is crucial in making an informed decision. Factors such as the event’s reputation, location, timing, and cost also play significant roles in the selection process.

Additionally, evaluating past attendance and success metrics can provide valuable insights into the potential ROI of participating in a particular trade show. Ultimately, businesses must align their goals and objectives with the characteristics and offerings of each trade show to maximize their investment and achieve desired outcomes.

Follow these three trade show tips to fine-tune your next marketing strategy:

1. Identify Your Objectives

Identifying the objectives of your organization is a fundamental step in determining which trade shows to attend. Clearly defining your goals, whether it’s increasing brand visibility, generating leads, networking with industry professionals, or launching new products, provides a framework for selecting the most relevant events.

By aligning your objectives with the focus and audience of each trade show, you can ensure that your participation will yield the desired outcomes. For example, if your goal is to showcase innovative products to potential clients, you may prioritize trade shows known for attracting key decision-makers in your industry. If your aim is to expand your network, however, you might prioritize events with extensive networking opportunities and industry-specific forums.

Understanding your organization’s objectives ultimately allows you to strategically evaluate trade show options and invest resources wisely to achieve these goals.

2. Research Show Demographics and Sales

Researching show demographics and sales can significantly inform the decision-making process when determining which trade shows to attend. By analyzing data on attendee profiles, such as job titles, industries, and geographic locations, companies can gain insights into whether a particular trade show aligns with their target audience.

Similarly, understanding the sales metrics of past events, including the number of leads generated, conversions, and overall revenue generated, can help gauge the potential return on investment for participating in a trade show.

Trade show attendance can be expensive, so it’s important for an organization to calculate a favorable ROI.

3. Choose Your Level of Activation

There are various levels of involvement at trade shows, with each level offering unique advantages. By assessing their objectives, budget, and resources, life sciences organizations can strategically select trade shows that align with their level of activation, ensuring optimal return on investment and effective utilization of resources.

A few levels of activation include:

  • Booth Rental: Booths serve as focal points for engaging with attendees, conducting product demonstrations, and generating leads. Exhibitors can customize their booths to reflect their brand identity and attract the attention of potential customers. Running a booth represents a high level of activation, as it involves significant financial investment, time, and personnel.

  • Walking the Floor: Walking the floor refers to attendees navigating the trade show venue to explore exhibitors and engage with representatives. This level of activation allows attendees to discover new products, network with industry professionals, and gather information about the latest trends and innovations in their field.

  • Event Sponsorship: Organizations can financially support trade shows in exchange for increased visibility. Sponsors may have their logos featured prominently throughout the event venue, receive recognition in marketing materials, and gain access to exclusive networking opportunities. By sponsoring a trade show, organizations can enhance their brand exposure, establish thought leadership, and attract potential customers or partners. This level of activation may have a substantial up-front cost, but efforts are returned through long-term business exposure.


Trade show attendance offers valuable marketing opportunities that are often overlooked by life sciences organizations. While digital communication is vital, face-to-face interaction remains a crucial asset.

Selecting the appropriate trade show and developing an accompanying strategy can be difficult, however. If your organization finds it challenging to define trade show objectives, Altitude Marketing can provide expert guidance through the intricacies of trade shows.

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Matt Schoch