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Top costs for B2B marketing

Trade Shows cited as Top Marketing Cost for B2B

From a recent Ad-ology blog, Kathy Crosett in her February 23, 2012 post noted virtual trade shows appear to be surpassing traditional trade shows for B2B marketing. Why? To cut costs.

“But a new study points to a healthy return in expositions as B2B marketers apparently believe that some face-to-face marketing makes a big difference in generating sales.”

The post continues …

“The new Insights on Trends in Marketing Spend on Business-to-Business Exhibitions report published by the Center for Exhibition Research reveals that B2B enterprises spent 39.2% of their marketing budgets on trade shows. This percentage is down slightly from the previous year but up markedly since the start of the recession.

“In addition, marketers say they spend most trade show money on booth space and set up and furnishings. About 6% of the budget goes to on-site promotional materials and another 5% for on-site sponsorship. Participants in this study all had revenues exceeding $10 million and had exhibited with at least one trade show during the past 2 years.”

The post adds … “This group of business owners spends marketing budgets as follows:

  • Exhibitions/shows 39.2%
  • Trade publications 10.5%
  • Online trade publications 7.6%
  • General online marketing 7.0%
  • General event sponsorship 6.1%

Trade show organizers can boost their B2B business by marketing both regional and national events as “must attend.” They’ll also be seeking out new industry associations that have growth potential and help them develop and market up-and-coming shows.”

[Source: Barney, Lee. Expos Command 40% of Budget. Expoweb.com. 9 Feb. 2012. Web. 22 Feb. 2012]

Our thoughts? How can you fully optimize the trade show spend?

Many sales in the Business to Business arena require a long-term, multi-stage relationship. It’s important to understand where in the long-term cycle a trade show might fit. A show can be optimized to meet prospects face to face and demo products, or to introduce new people into the sales cycle, while assessing their intention to move forward in the process.

Going beyond the default, “stand in the booth and wait for them to show up” methodology, by preparing first and then having multiple follow up strategies in place, will gain a greater return on investment.

Actions we recommend you consider adding to your trade show strategy:
  • Develop an email campaign to all of your suspects (contacts and leads) pre-show, to invite them to see and visit and to make a special offer — whether a demo, or training, or one-on-one discussion about their expectations.
  • Flag the upcoming show on your website, to ensure web visitors know you’ll be attending. Add a brief description of what you’ll be showing, what’s available for demo or any new introduction you’re making.
  • Ensure there is a comfortable space to have a conversation about your product or service, and a way to evaluate an interested show attendee’s suitability and level of interest.
  • Capture contact information and immediately note any specifics discussed, inquiries and level of interest.
  • Follow up after the show based on the assessment of need, interest and stage in the sales process. Don’t just send the same thing to everyone.
  • Ensure your sales team makes personal calls to follow up on the most highly qualified prospects, in addition to sending requested information.

These all seem like basic steps. Yet studies have shown many organizations do not follow up on leads they have gathered at shows, or only follow up on the special few that made a connection.

Of course, however you follow up, your message, materials and conversation should address how your audiences will choose to move forward as well as give them reasons to continue the conversation. What’s in it for them? What problem does your product or service solve?

A trade show can be an important point of choice in the sales process — to capture interest or to move forward, to close in on a purchase decision. Just as you optimize your brand to connect with your target audiences where and how they choose, you can do the same for your potentially biggest investment — a trade show.

About the author

Jennifer Larsen Morrow

Jennifer's four decades of work in the industry, starting as a designer and adding marketing, copywriting and digital marketing, has generated response for clients since 1978.

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  1. Face2Face B2B « pipelinetorque - [...] and turned into positive. In fact, a large percentage of average spending for B2B marketers is in trade shows/exhibitions.…

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