Take the Trade Show to the Decision Maker

What was your favorite field trip when you were growing up? Was it the trip to the museum, where you could see the biggest and coolest fossils? A trip to the zoo? Perhaps the planetarium, or a visit to the local newspaper? Even if the destination of the field trip wasn’t your favorite, I bet you were excited to have a break from the routine and do something fun with your classmates. While we can’t return to our childhoods, field trips are still a possibility. As an adult, you can provide that same excitement and break from the monotony of daily work to potential customers!

The Hard Truth: Trade shows are DEAD!

Once upon a time, trade shows were the best field trips for B2B decision makers. Massive venues hosted clients, prospects, and vendors, who attended presentations and visited booths. Ideally, B2B decision makers and vendors scored some hot leads in the process. 

But as Pro Motion has written about before, trade shows are dead. In 2016, B2B exhibitions showed a drop-off in attendance and participation. The Houston Chronicle noted in 2017 the significant drop in attendance at Houston’s Offshore Technology Conference: between 2015 and 2017, attendance fell from 95,000 to below 65,000, marking a third consecutive year of lower attendance. Attendance continues to plummet at some of the biggest shows for prominent B2B industries. In Chicago, the Food Marketing Institute announced it would be shutting down it’s well-known show, FMI Connect, stating that “in recent years this event has fallen short of achieving the precise formula necessary for meeting today’s industry needs.” Even JCK Las Vegas, a popular show for the jewelry industry, showed a decline in attendance in 2018. 

The death knell for trade shows has been tolling for many years. In a Frost and Sullivan survey from 2014, 79% of respondents reported the belief that traditional trade shows and conferences do not have enough decision makers in attendance. As a result, shows no longer provide a dependable source of leads for B2B companies. Clearly, any company that relies on trade shows for most of its revenue is in trouble.

Even if trade shows show a resurgence in popularity, there is one more reason to abandon the traditional format. As Pro Motion CEO Steve Randazzo explained in 2018, although trade shows offer specific opportunities to connect with clients and prospects, what shows do for one brand, they do similarly for others. Your booth is set up next to competitors who are competing for those same clients and prospects, and it can be difficult to stand out. 

Fortunately, there’s a better option to embrace that is massively underused. The decline of the trade show offers an opportunity to elevate engagement with prospects to new levels. To truly make an impression, it’s time to take things on the road. Brands can gain customers’ undivided attention and differentiate themselves by presenting a much more appealing option: An educational field trip. 

Provide a professional field trip

Let’s return to our memories of childhood field trips. Even though field trips never felt like you were in school, I bet you learned just the same. In fact, maybe you gained even more knowledge when you had the opportunity for some in-person, memorable, hands-on learning. Isn’t it a shame that field trips usually don’t follow us into our professional lives? Would you love it if your boss closed the office for a day and chartered a bus to an exciting location for some learning that didn’t quite feel like learning?

By launching a mobile road show (a reverse trade show), your brand can provide a similar feeling to decision makers in your target audience. All it takes is to load up your product into a van, truck, or trailer, and visit every company on your dream list of clients — on their turf! Offer a fun and interactive experience for an entire office, and you will capture the attention of potential clients for anywhere from 45 minutes to 2+ hours! In sum, field trips are the future. In our next blog post, Pro Motion will explain more about how and why mobile roadshows work.

Pro Motion is an industry expert in planning engaging, successful roadshows. If you want to chat about how we can bring your brand to life, just give us a call at 636.489.2753.


Can’t wait for our next post to learn more? Learn More About Steve Randazzo’s book, Brand Experiences: Building Connections in a Digitally Cluttered World. Click here to download 2 free chapters!  Including Chapter 3, all about how to build a B2B trade show tour.