August 17th, 2018

Business Beat: Are trade shows a part of your marketing toolkit?

By Medicine Hat News on January 24, 2018.

We know businesses have a number of options for advertising their product or service and it’s increasingly challenging to know where to spend your dollars to obtain a valuable return on investment and know exactly what the best avenue is to market your product or service.

I know the same challenge is true for businesses evaluating their participation in trade shows. We have businesses who are sometimes reluctant to exhibit in trade shows primarily due to factors such as time, cost and staffing and not knowing what their return on investment will be. However, there is still unprecedented value in trade shows, if you devise a strategy and make sure to include some key elements.

Trade shows have long been known to be a powerful platform for meeting new customers, connecting with existing clientele, building on your brand and being able to demonstrate both your inter-personal skills as well as your product value. Even with the overwhelming number of people turning to online platforms, people still want to experience various products and services first-hand.

If a consumer requires a certain product or service, they want to get to know that business and establish a certain level of confidence and trust in the product or service provided. People want to see a product and even be able to test it out before they buy. You can’t obtain those same experiences with online marketing. You also can’t discount the value in the number of consumers that walk through a trade show versus a regular store front over the course of a weekend.

As trade shows in our region are primarily consumer driven, exhibiting allows a business to get in front of a large and often diverse audience and provides you with a platform unlike any other. It gives you the ability to appeal to those that may not normally visit your business. It allows people to explore various businesses and competitors in a one-stop-shop environment. It lets consumers explore and learn about what’s new or what products or services are available in our region. For businesses, it allows you to gain more exposure for your business, to connect with current or past clients and ideally recruit new clients, as well as create an expanded pipeline of leads from visitors to your booth. Additionally, if your competitor is exhibiting, you want to make sure that you are present as well to ensure you provide that consumer with a choice of products and price.

With the right trade show strategy, you can be sure that your trade show investment will have valuable returns.

Make sure you set goals and know how many prospects or leads you wish to generate. Make sure the show you exhibit in demonstrates quality consumers for the dollar invested. Determine how you will capture people’s attention while at the show and provide the opportunity to your existing clients to come see you there. Decide what kind of materials and displays you will have to make sure you have an attractive and valuable display. Last, but certainly not least, determine how you will interact with visitors to your booth, as those visitors are leads and they could turn into potential customers now or in the future.

You also need to evaluate what works and what doesn’t while at a show. Take the time to walk around the trade show floor to find out what other exhibitors are doing that appears to be successful and what people aren’t doing well, so you know what to duplicate or what not to do. Explore which types of booths attract attendees and take note of their tactics, keep track of prices and deals β€” particularly from competitors and, most importantly, remember to be engaging.

Ultimately you need to determine what will be the most effective for you, but you want to be sure to at least explore the opportunities. Ultimately, we want to help you be successful and the Chamber hosts the two largest trade shows in our region to help bring commerce to our community and help bring customers to you.

Talk to us about some of the challenges you have or the obstacles you are facing with exhibiting and we’ll see what we can do to help and make sure you have the opportunity to make the most out of your trade show investment. After all, we’re in business for business and we want to support you in our effort to make our business community successful. We want to connect you with contacts and potential clients so that you can expand and grow your business.

Make sure you don’t miss out. Give our office a call to see what the options are and to test out trade shows as a tool in your marketing toolkit. For more information, visit us online at

If you’re still struggling with your branding and marketing strategies, call us; we have members who can help you β€” not just with your trade show profile, but with your complete branding and marketing strategy so you have a complete toolkit at your disposal.

Lisa Kowalchuk is the executive director of the Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce. For more information on this column or the Chamber, contact 403-527-5214.

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