Are Trade Shows Worth It

Are trade shows worth it? For B2B (business to business) e-commerce businesses, what other ways are there of coming in contact with potential customers?

By they way, this doesn’t concern Flying Twigs, which is business to consumer. It concerns our sister enterprise at Half Moon Cards. Half Moon Cards is a B2B (business to business) e-commerce store selling greeting cards to independent shops.

So for a B2B business, it’s particularly important to consider what are good alternatives to trade shows.

Why is it important? Trade shows are expensive – so the question is always what business will come in compared to the money that will be laid out. Are trade shows worth it means are they worth the money?

And also, what benefits do trade shows bring that other alternatives cannot match?

I’m going to look at this specifically in the context of a B2B e-commerce store selling greeting cards to independent shops.

Yes, there are several alternatives to trade shows that can be effective for reaching and engaging potential customers.

However, face to face trade shows offer certain unique benefits that may not be fully replicated by other alternatives. Let’s explore both aspects in more detail:

Alternatives to Trade Shows

Online marketplaces

Online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, or Etsy, offer access to a large customer base. These platforms allow independent shops to discover and purchase products from various suppliers easily. Additionally, having a strong presence on these platforms enhances brand visibility and helps direct communication with potential customers. The problems are being seen compared to all the other sellers competing in the same space. And also getting customers to transition from the marketplace to the seller’s own website. Plus, having the bottom line reduced by the commission that the marketplace platform takes.

Social Media

Using social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn can be an effective way to showcase products, build brand awareness, and engage with target audiences. Collaborating with influencers in the retail industry who can promote and endorse your greeting cards can amplify your reach and generate interest from independent shop owners. Great if you have enough presence to be attractive to an influencer and then there is the problem of being heard above the din. Plus, that all of these platforms are victims of what Seth Godin calls interruption marketing. People don’t go to these platforms primarily to buy. So you have to interrupt them while they are partying, so to speak.

Virtual Trade Shows

In recent years, virtual trade shows have gained popularity as a convenient and cost-effective alternative to physical trade shows. These online events bring together industry professionals and provide opportunities for networking, showcasing products through virtual booths, and participating in panel discussions or educational sessions. Virtual trade shows can help you reach a wider audience without the logistical challenges associated with physical events. Now these are a real possibility and as far as I can see, an undeveloped one that has real possibilities. Of course, the ones who can help them take off are the ones promoting and staging trade shows in the flesh. And they have every incentive to get people to keep on meeting that way.

Get On Your Bike

Get out and visit customers. This is the old fashioned, tried and tested method. Reach out to independent shops through email, phone calls, or in-person. By engaging with potential customers, you can build personal relationships, understand their specific needs, and provide tailored solutions. This approach allows for a more personalized sales experience and fosters long-term partnerships. The problem is finding enough hours in the day to visit card shops that are scattered all over the country.

Trade Shows

So having looked at the alternatives, trade shows offer unique advantages that may be challenging to replicate through other means:

  1. Face-to-Face Interaction: Trade shows facilitate direct, in-person interactions between suppliers and independent shop owners. This allows for more personalized conversations, the opportunity to demonstrate product quality, and the chance to establish strong business relationships. Face-to-face communication often fosters trust and confidence in the product and brand.
  2. Trade shows enable you to showcase your greeting cards. Potential customers can touch, feel, and evaluate the quality and design of the cards. That gives them a better understanding and appreciation of your products.
  3. Trade shows bring together professionals from various segments of the retail industry. Attending these events allows you to network with potential customers. You get to meet industry experts, suppliers, and other stakeholders. That presents opportunities for knowledge exchange. You get to hear about industry trends. You gain insights into competitors, and you can foster collaborations.
  4. Speaking with independent shop owners at trade shows is an opportunity for real-time feedback on your products, pricing, packaging, delivery, etc.

Are Trade Shows Worth It

Are trade shows worth it? The answer is yes, no, and maybe. How much are you paying to be there? Who is going to be there? Is it the right trade show for what you are selling?

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