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Why Trade Conferences Are Still a Top B2B Revenue Driver

Feb 10, 2016 / By Madelyn Young

Across almost every aspect of business, in-person interactions are slowing. From Skype-enabled interviews and webinar-powered training sessions to video conference calls and email-only updates, it’s possible in 2016 to run an entire company remotely – across sales, marketing, product development, and the rest – without ever shaking hands with a client, customer, or coworker.

Amid this largely virtual corporate landscape, however, trade conferences are on the rise across almost every industry. Oddly enough, the most technologically focused conferences are also some of the best attended.

For example, the recent 2016 Consumer Electronics Show broke records with 170,000+ attendees and 3,800+ exhibitors spanning multiple Las Vegas venues. And attendance at HIMSS15, the 2015 conference of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, was up by 13% over the year prior – making the exclusively IT-driven event now the best attended conference across the entire healthcare industry.

It’s a peculiar trend – thousands of individuals flocking to in-person events just to get closer to the technologies that make our world increasingly digital. But while product launches at huge, splashy events win the lion’s share of media buzz, trade conferences across every industry are more about interactions than apps and devices. The increasingly digital nature of business (and life) makes in-person introductions, discussions, and experiences ever more valuable to stakeholders in every sector imaginable.

In fact, big-time events like HIMSS and CES aren’t even the clearest indicators of that: Convention centers and hotels around the country – and the globe – aren’t dominated week-by-week with huge, headline-grabbing events; they’re booked up for smaller B2B trade conferences serving every market from gaming to security to payments.

And that’s because in primarily B2B sectors, relationships and reputations are key to revenue growth. Selling to another business requires more than a great product – it requires establishing a level of trust with a potential customer, ideally backed by a track record of success. Trade conference participation supports the creation of that trust in several different ways, including:

  • Face-to-Face Meetings & Introductions: Electronic communications can only go so far. Trade conferences present an ideal opportunity to bring people together in support of meaningful new connections. In-person intros can even (sometimes) shorten sales cycles between B2B business stakeholders who had previously communicated, but never met.
  • Thought Leadership: Delivering presentations or speaking on conference panels can enableB2B executives to showcase their industry knowledge and discuss their successes, thus educating a captive market of potential clients and bolstering their “expert” status within their sector.
  • The ‘Follow-Through’ Factor: Tons of people go to conferences to network and say they’ll follow up… but don’t. If you’re a person who follows through on an “I will” (by sharing that article you mentioned, calling that new colleague the next time you visit his city on business, or otherwise), you show new acquaintances that you’re good for more than just a LinkedIn connection.

Ultimately – whether they facilitate direct business-development connections in the exhibit hall or instill brand awareness through education in the breakout room – conferences, tech-focused and not, drive revenue growth. And why? Because you may be able to run a business in 2016 without ever meeting your customers… but handshakes still have a lot of value.

ThinkInk PR helps many clients across the airline, loyalty, mobile, payments, travel & hospitality, and advertising & marketing sectors to win high-impact speaking engagements and maximize the value of trade conference participation. Contact us to learn how we can help you!

Madelyn

Young

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