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When it pays to spend on trade shows

Industry News

First determine what you'll get out of attending an event in person. Then consider a veteran business conference organizer's advice.

BusinessWeek.com | April 14, 2011

Although webinars and virtual online trade shows have become popular in recent years, and serve a marketing purpose, they are not replacements for face-to-face events, says Bill Sell, vice-president and general manager of CrossTech Media, a Boston company that owns and manages 20 business and professional conferences. "People have been doing in-person selling since the medieval village marketplace and it's never going to be wiped out," he says.

There are about 2,200 trade shows and industry expos held in the U.S. annually, down about 25 percent in the past three to four years, Sell says.  But new events have cropped up this year, discontinued shows are coming back, and attendance is expected to improve. "People are recognizing that there is no serendipity factor in webinars. You market to the audience you know and have invited; you can't expect to run into someone you don't know or find new opportunities at a virtual event," he says.

Small businesses that want a higher profile in their industry and need to meet new clients, make new partnerships, and get up to speed on trends should consider attending or exhibiting at a show this year, says Sell, a former product manager for COMDEX, a giant computer expo held in Las Vegas from 1979 to 2003. Here are his tips and best practices for getting the most out of a trade show at the lowest cost:

Click here for the tips.

 

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