Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Value of Trade Shows

I've spent the past four weeks doing the trade show circuit. Minneapolis to Orlando, and Los Angeles to Dublin, giving seminars and consulting with clients on the buying and selling side. Another month to go as the season comes to a close in March. Traffic appears to have improved and reports are that buying transactions have increased, but the average dollar volume per order remains low as buyers continue to be cautious about holding too much of the wrong inventory.

Many people continue to question the future of trade shows as the adoption of online purchasing and restricted travel budgets apply pressure to justify attendence. My opinion is that they are still a valuable and necessary component of the sales process.

Sales is still a relationship business and those relationships are solidified in face-to-face dialgoues. Trade shows are like large parties - you network, you meet potential new friends and you reinforce friendships made at previous social gatherings. Although social media and teh Internet enable online relationships to be established, there is nothing like a face-to-face meeting combined with the ability to touch and feel product samples to solidify TRUST.

Sales may be down and orders may be smaller, but trade shows facilitate the development of TRUST - a fundamental element of a long and mutually prosperous supplier/retailer relationship. I continue to see the development of TRUST as a requirement in all industries and geographies and the trade show environment provides a wonderful opportunity to foster relationship building in a concentrated time and space. Long live TRUST - long live trade shows!

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