3 Ways to Boost Your Presence at Trade Shows as They Re-emerge

Live trade shows are back, especially in the AI, IoT, mobile, wireless and telecom industries and their associated vertical markets! While in-person attendee numbers are still slightly down from 2019, trade show numbers overall are starting to creep back up when virtual attendees are included. In telecom, the industry’s first test was Mobile World Congress, while in the enterprise market, it was Enterprise Connect. Both delivered better-than-expected attendee numbers. Expect to see these hybrid shows—which have been a strong substitute for live events over the last two years—at least through the end of 2022 as the world cautiously climbs out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Companies have shifted funds away from trade shows the last few years towards other marketing activities, such as content marketing, videos and social media, but there’s nothing like a live event for networking with potential partners, customers, and media and analysts. In fact, for the rest of 2022 at least, Calysto recommends steering away from exhibiting at shows altogether and spending those funds in other ways, both at events and on the fringes of them, to connect with these groups in different ways. One reason: Designing a booth for upcoming 2022 shows is expensive, and some events are still in flux. Your messages may change for 2023 events, so it’s best not to make the investment for just a few shows.

Instead of spending money on a booth presence, here are three things companies CAN do to make a strong showing at a trade show:

  1. Enter the event’s awards programs and publicize it broadly if your company wins. Many awards programs for events can be pay-to-play, but it’s worth the relatively small investment to enter. Chances are you haven’t entered or won any awards during the pandemic as many programs were paused. Now is a good time to consider dipping your toes back into the awards pool.
  2. Look for last-minute speaking opportunities, whether live or virtual. Many spring events are still looking to fill a few holes in their conference programs. If you have an interesting take on a trend, share it with the show’s content organizer. The answer might be “no” this year, but if it’s interesting enough, your company may be asked to participate for the event’s next rendition. Pro tip: Work with one of your end user partners for a joint submission of a case study or use case for a particular vertical market. Conference organizers—and attendees—love “how we did it” stories, especially in emerging technology markets. The content organizer’s role is to fill seats, so the more compelling the topic, the better.
  3. Book 1v1 interviews with media and analysts. Not only do many media companies and analyst firms run their own events (where they are actively booking meetings), but most are starting to attend other live events as well. Develop a strategy to make them interested enough to meet with your company one on one. This might be making a formal news announcement, such as a new product, introducing them to a customer, or updating them on company growth. The strategy might vary for different targets, so plan accordingly.

Don’t expect this round of trade shows to break records—the industry is not quite “back to normal” yet. Many companies, end users, and media and analysts are still cautious about attending large events with attendees from all over the country and world. But those attendee numbers will continue to creep up, and trade shows will soon be back in the saddle as a strong component of companies’ strategic marketing plan.

Want to learn more about how your company can take advantage of trade shows for the rest of 2022? Contact Calysto today.


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