I have been a proponent of integrated marketing my whole career. Large trade shows have been a valuable part of that mix for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, people who have real needs will attend, evaluate and decide which direction their companies will take on current and future purchases, especially in the capital-goods arena.
NPE2009 is the one plastics industry event in North America where most attendees have the opportunity to see, compare, and converse with knowledgeable staffs while standing in the neutral ground that is McCormick Place.
As expensive as it is to exhibit, it's my opinion that a customer-focused supplier simply cannot forego this part of the marketing plan. I believe that adjusting your marketing dollars to meet face-to-face with customers vs. a cyberspace hit or advertising contact speaks loud and clear to those who do attend an event that is held every three years on a national stage.
In times like these, customers may cut back on the number of employees they send to the show, but those who do go will do so based on real needs and that is a great thing for exhibitors in terms of contact management at the show.
The dividends that we exhibitors achieve by attending, displaying, interacting and working with our customers and potential customers will help us build the foundation to grow out of this current recessionary period stronger, better equipped to meet our customer's needs and, hopefully, with more sales.
Time will tell which philosophy is correct.