Exhibition marketing remains one of the most popular and effective tools available to businesses. In fact, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, B2B exhibitions account for around 40% of all B2B budgets, while Statista suggest that exhibition industry revenue is growing by more than 2% every six months.

A CEIR report entitled The Changing Environment of Exhibitions claims that a staggering 99% of marketers believe that trade shows offer unique value, which cannot be achieved through other mediums. So what makes trade show marketing so valuable, and why is exhibition marketing still the tool of choice in the event industry?

1.The opportunity to meet new prospects

One of the major plus points of trade show marketing is the ability to spend face-to-face time with prospects, and exhibiting is an effective way to cast a wider net and reach a greater number of people. Indeed, research from Exhibit Surveys, Inc. shows that 67% of all attendees represent a new prospect and a potential customer.

Unlike with some other marketing events, trade shows allow a two-way dialogue, where both the business and the prospect can get their points across, where contact information can be exchanged and where demonstrations of products can take place. Moreover, exhibitions provide a great place to meet potential business partners as well.

2.The ability to build brand awareness

In addition to meeting people, trade shows also provide a great opportunity to build up brand awareness. Intelligent exhibition stand design can help to expand awareness of company products, services, slogans, colour schemes and fonts, while businesses also have the potential to generate press coverage by engaging with journalists.

"Contact relevant magazines well before the event to ensure that your business is featured in the pre-show editorial coverage," suggest The Marketing Donut. They also recommend that businesses invite members of the press to their stand, in order to maximise exposure, and place some company literature in the press office of the exhibition.

3.The genuine chance of making sales

Meeting people and gaining exposure are great, but exhibition marketing also offers the very real chance to make sales. The CEIR estimate that 88% of trade show attendees have what they call 'buying authority', while the Association of Exhibition Organisers claim 91% of attendees go with the intention of buying.

Staff with sales experience have a very real chance of closing some deals, especially because products can be demonstrated to potential buyers. Moreover, the AEO claim that 29% of people who make purchases at trade shows only buy at trade shows, making them a great place to reach people you would otherwise miss.

4.The excellent value for money provided

Last, but by no means least, exhibition marketing is one of the event industry's best marketing tools in terms of value for money. Even when you factor in design costs and the costs of hiring exhibition stand builders, it is a relatively inexpensive form of marketing, considering the various benefits it can provide.

In actual fact, figures published by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research estimate that theaverage cost of each face-to-face contact with a qualified prospect at a trade show is around $142. By contrast, the average cost of a face-to-face sales call with a prospect at their own office is in excess of $100 more than that.

By Reno Macri, director of Enigma Visual Solutions.