Tradeshows: Why They Matter + How to Make Them Work for Your Brand

When you work at Caster, you can expect that within your first few months, you will inevitably see one or more of your clients through an industry tradeshow.  Before joining Caster, I had no idea just how many industry-wide tradeshows existed. In fact, while conducting an all-employee survey for our website, I recently learned that together, our current staff of 12 has collectively attended over 200 client shows to date. Since I’ve never personally been to a tradeshow, I decided to ask my colleagues for their best tradeshow advice as our office gears up for a very busy CEDIA 2018.

“There is no question that the future of the tradeshow business is bright. We can all agree that real face time beats digital communication every time. Even video conferencing on Zoom, Skype, or InFocus ConX doesn’t have the same impact as a meeting or handshake in real life — this goes for customers, prospects, partners, clients, press and teammates. Sometimes tradeshows are the only times that a virtual team comes together in person. Personal interaction is king at tradeshows and has massive value for a PR person, whose job is to build relationships. Getting out from behind the computer to build real connections will help you immensely in your job, no matter if you’re in sales, marketing or PR. The effects of real-life interaction can be lasting for your personal and professional network. I’ve made career-boosting connections with media, met friends from clients and press that have lasted for years, been introduced to new business prospects that became clients and believe it or not, met my husband at CES seven years ago. The heart and soul of tradeshows remains the same: personal connections, partnerships, relationship-building.” – Alex Crabb, Senior Vice President – 50 tradeshows to date.

“In our 24/7 digital world, tradeshows and events feel like a nice break from online communication as the sole way to talk to clients, press and others in our industry and to actually take the time to connect. Although there’s a constant buzz online during these shows, there is something really important that happens when you shake someone’s hand, have a real conversation and get to know them on a human level that can transform a business relationship. For PR professionals, the difference between emailing with press and actually getting to know them at a show is sometimes the difference between being really good at this job in the long run and just being someone who never takes the time to make real relationships and doesn’t get much response from outreach. In our line of work, a lot of the tech media are also at similar places in life and career to us and care about the things we care about, have similar interests etc. so the relationships you form are real and lasting. It’s probably one of the things I like most about this work. So yes, events are tiring and hectic and sometimes you feel a little broken when you get home – but I can’t really imagine doing this work without them!” – Ashley Daigneault, Vice President – 25 tradeshows to date.

“For me, there is a tremendous amount of value that tradeshow face time with my clients provides. These times are extremely valuable for relationship and trust building, and ultimately getting a better understanding of how my clients work and how I can better work with them. It is important for me to be present to see my clients show off new products with pride and to hear all the positive feedback they get from the press. I just love being apart of all the energy! There is a lot of blood, sweat, and even tears that go into the preparation for a tradeshow and big product launches but being able to join them in celebrating and reaping the rewards after months of hard work is extremely gratifying. I leave every tradeshow completely and totally exhausted, but I also always leave more motivated and mentally energized, with new ideas and strategies for my clients, and great memories too.” – Erin Phillips, Account Manager – 30 tradeshows to date.

“In addition to being an excellent opportunity to network and engage on a personal level — both with clients and with members of the press — tradeshows are one of the few places where clients meet media face-to-face and a PR pro has the opportunity to prove their mettle. In an industry where we wear a lot of hats, and the question of ‘so what do you do?’ is common-place, a tradeshow or an event is a golden opportunity to really show a client the benefits PR can bring to the table. The ability to speak the language of the client and translate for press or different audiences can be tremendously helpful and not a skill possessed by many.” – Pete Girard, Senior Account Executive – 12 tradeshows to date.

“Tradeshows are a lot of hard work, but it’s been interesting for me to learn how the strategy for PR at a tradeshow differs from launches or startup. There is a larger focus on networking and the opportunity to show off a client’s brand or product in a more tangible way, as well as have in-person conversations with press and show attendees that really help from a relationship-building perspective. Of course, the face time spent with clients is invaluable – especially as an agency that has clients spread out all over the country and world.” – Alex Gil, Senior Account Executive – 5 tradeshows to date.

What is your best tradeshow advice? I’d love to hear! Message me on Twitter or catch up with the Caster Crew on the show floor at CEDIA.

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