The Future Role of Exhibitions in the Marketing Mix

Commerce is in our blood. We love to buy and sell, and we love to meet people. It is no wonder then that trade shows and exhibitions have always been an important marketing tool. In fact, from a historical perspective, they probably can be seen as the "mother" of marketing. But just like anything else in this world, exhibitions have been undergoing a constant transformation ever since.

Is digital the future of marketing?

As a unique promotion tool, trade shows hold a special place in the marketing mix.They unite individuals on a show floor and allow vendors to speak to potential clients face-to-face. In addition to that, they provide an intense experience on a multi-sensual level. However, with the digitalization of marketing, trade shows are recently experiencing one of the biggest transformations in their existence. The mere participation in a show might not deliver the marketing value that it did just 10-15 years ago.

Tradeshows allow vendors to speak to potential clients face-to-face

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CEIR recently found that 98 % of young exhibitors see a unique value in trade shows that cannot be fulfilled by other marketing channels, so apparently the young generation of marketers appreciates the potential and the unique value of exhibitions. At the same time, however, we know how demanding “Generation Y” is and how tech-savvy they are. It is vital to listen to them, hear what their expectations are and find out how the exhibition industry can respond to their needs.

Technology and shows, a hell of a marketing couple

There is huge marketing potential in technology usage and digital engagement at trade shows. It's become easier than ever to reach masses of people through the devices that show visitors use. There are tons of possibilities to get targeted messages to potential clients, communicate specific product information to them and simply generate buzz from a company’s trade show participation.

Thanks to apps, on-site engagement tools and NFC technologies like iBeacons, communication goes well beyond the “basic” mass email approach as exhibitors now have the ability to push marketing messages directly to visitors passing their booth.

The challenge for exhibition organizers in order to retain clients lies in identifying and communicating clear advantages their exhibitors will get from a show. Successful exhibitions usually connect the show environment with the "digital world" and are visible to their clients 365 days a year – through social media and valuable content. To think out of the box and to extend trade shows outside the halls will be key to retaining clients and improving the event experience in the future.

Connecting the dots

So how does this transformation of marketing and exhibitions reflect in the marketing mix? I strongly believe that the “art” of marketing is to connect the power of face-to-face with the benefits of the digitalization we are currently experiencing. Within this beautiful connection of differing elements in the marketing mix, trade shows still hold their very own, very special place. Now, and in the future.

As a marketer and a trade show enthusiast I’d love to hear your opinion on the future role of exhibitions within the marketing mix. Contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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