At the Buildings Show: The marketing relevance of trade shows and conferences

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Construct canada

Construct canadaI’m in Toronto for the annual Buildings Show (Construct Canada). The three-day trade show and conference has become Canada’s annual major construction-industry related event and conference. The organizers wisely several years ago linked relevant and related industries including real estate/development, property management and architectural/interior design into the event, and added relevant speciality sub-sectors such as concrete. This conglomeration and consolidation has allowed the event to grow even as many trade shows and events struggle under the onslaught of often-more-effective online marketing options.

Over the years, we’ve experimented and evolved our approach to the show. The most effective results occurred when I spoke at a conference session on marketing; unfortunately, I flubbed the next year’s efforts and took last year and this year off. However, I’ll prepare a speaking proposal for the 2016 show.

We’ve done our best to keep costs under control. Shows and events can be expensive; not only for booth space rental and associated service fees, but the cost of getting there, and staffing the event. Because we have a media business, the show management trades out the booth rental for advertising (good) and has also absorbed some of the exorbitant site rental charges. I’ve systematized the pickup and drop off of show materials in a rental SUV and have even learned how to time things to minimize waste. Nevertheless, while we don’t bring four or five people to the show (with three nights hotel for each) any more, the event still will cost about $2,500 in cash (plus time).

The question then: Is there return on the investment? Thankfully, show participation is one of the easiest marketing initiatives to measure, if you track and identify the leads generated at the show and the follow-through process. In previous years, our assessment has been that there has been enough return to justify the investment in hard sales; as well as the relationships and communications achieved during the event.

I am somewhat concerned that my expectations this year are low; maybe that is what we will achieve. On the other hand, there will undoubtedly be profitable moments and some useful lessons learned.

If you are in Toronto and would like to connect with me at the show, please feel free to call cellular (613) 292-3973 or visit booth 3027 (Construction News and Report Group.)

 

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