Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Online Marketing or trade shows - You decide?

American Business Media, the US trade body for business publishers, conducted some research recently that showed that trade shows were a good thing. The research claimed to show that when buyers went to trade shows to see products and services that they were responisble for buying, they tended to buy or express an interest in buying.

To be fair I am simplifying this a little but two things struck me. Why are the only surveys ever published that prove how effective trade media is produced by associations and trade bodies that represent trade media companies? Secondly, even if the research is true it doesn't prove anything. Events where people meet are always going to be an important part of the marketing mix (that's why I would invest in shares in a trade show company, but not in a magazine company) but that does not mean that the return on investment from attending a show is better than substitute marketing solutions.

Attending a trade show is hugely expensive. A 9m2 stand will costaround £3000, plus the cost of transportation, staffing, dressing the stand, hotel expenses, travel and lost sales time eleswhere. It is unlikely that even the smallest stand will cost the exhibitor less than £25000 fully weighted. If the average business has a 10% margin, the smallest exhibitor needs to create £250000 of new sales for attending the show to avoid the experience being earnings dilutive!

What would £25000 buy you in on line marketing?

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