Are trade shows still worth it?

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In light of MOTOFIL’s presence in BIEMH’18 and witnessing an increasingly booming Spanish economy, I believe that reevaluating the importance of trade shows in B2B markets is of the hour. So, in a brief and lighthearted manner, I’d like to share my thoughts after attending and exhibit in many trade fairs in both times of crisis and economic recovery.

In short, with so much social media focus and available e-commerce solutions, nowadays it seems that marketeers are reevaluating the relevance of one of the most expensive tools of promotion. They have, in one hand, through digital strategy, a cheap and friendly channel to make use of their communication tactics and leads generation strategies (of course with adequate and thoughtful analytics) and, in other hand, they can still make use of a high risk, expensive way to generate direct sales interaction and (hopefully) qualified leads.

So, what is better? What are the basic advantages and drawbacks of each tool when looked at in isolation?

So, to sum up and give an overall assessment, while often overpriced, in my view the main advantage of trade shows resides in their possibility for human connection. They are still a platform for the old-fashioned handshake and smile, that give us the opportunity to look someone in the eyes and feel if a deal is to be trusted or not.

Putting a face and voice to an otherwise bland interlocutor (I’m talking about site bots and whatnot) offers much more than the standard digital conversation for the masses, and I believe that this is the sole reason people often travel thousands of miles to attend trade shows while they could’ve just sent an email.

What I mean by this is that by being around (physically!) at trade shows, everybody has the possibility of building meaningful (and hopefully lucrative) relationships.

To finish, of course that the winning strategy would be to use both channels to achieve marketing and sales objectives, however, when asked to choose what to focus on, I believe that trade shows can yield better sales short-term results and long-term customer loyalty, while a good digital strategy is the best way to ensure lasting brand awareness without great overhead costs.





  • Multimedia content dissemination;
  • Higher reach than most traditional tools available;
  • Easy tracking and control of customer experience;
  • Easy process automation and low overhead costs;
  • When optimized, good relation between Investment/Results.

    • Concept still a bit “abstract” for the most of SME’s, in turn leads to badly defined goals and to a low priorization of this channel;
    • High demand and low availability of experts in the market for search marketing, email marketing and site conversion optimization;
    • Low barriers of entrance for existing and start-up competitors which lead to constant tending and investment needs from the company;
    • Distraction rich environment that may lead to easier disengagement;
    • Usual low qualification of leads.






    • Qualified leads generation though in-field sales force evaluation;
    • Rapport opportunities with both leads and clients;
    • Centralized showcase of competition and state-of-art developments of the sector;
    • Networking opportunities;
    • Opportunity for distribution network gathering for marketing and sales purposes (meetings, training, evaluation, others…);
    • Quick and high-quality feedback of market state and trends;
    • Opportunity for target rich communication.


    • Absence from market – every day of the sales rep on the trade-show is a day away from the street, thus a source of opportunity costs;
    • Heavy marketing investment – booth design and footprint costs, catalogues, promotional material, …;
    • Environment prone to easy comparison between brands;
    • Financial fragility of the company can lead to budget cuts and, therefore, to bad locations within the trade show floor, or even subpar booth visibility/design, thus attaining a sub-optimal ROI due to low traffic of potential leads.

    Author: André Ferreira, Motofil’s Sales and Marketing Manager