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Just returned from my 12th trade show since Labor Day.  So good to be back in touch with clients, media and industry associates.  The kids at the agency tell me we’re in constant contact (sic) with our clients and the industry.  That’s true, if you consider blasts, zooms, roundtables, lunch ‘n learns, webbies, social media and the other electronic forms of communications sufficient.  Those tactics got us through the depths of Covid, to be sure, but as that landmark SME study proved loudly, the top sources industrials still use today to gather information to do their jobs are trade magazines (yes, Virginia, they’re still alive and well) and trade shows.  

Some call me Pollyannish for this view.  Anybody who knows me knows that simply ain’t so.  (copywriter privilege for grammar)

We have identified seven ways you need to communicate and shows are high on the list.  Why?  In the case of our machine tool clients with average prices over a million bucks, it should be obvious.  For consumable seller clients, the supply chain has been changing rapidly and shows maintain contact with the ultimate buyers.  For custom crafted live tools and tool grinders, for example, not only are our clients a pair of wizards in engineering, but they also solve problems on the spot for people at shows.  I’ve stood at their booths and watched them work their magic.  When the customer or soon-to-be customer’s eyes light up at the suggested solution or unique feature on a machine that will significantly enhance their production, the battle is practically won.  

Branding, of course, is enhanced by shows and by print advertising in ways no digital tactic can match, save perhaps the powerful video, which is now an integral part of our agency’s communication strategy in both advertising and PR.  

Best of all…and this may seem sappy…there’s the clear benefit of personal contact.  Here again, the youngsters who live in their digital worlds tell me such encounters are overrated.  They’re wrong.  The value of listening to a smart person IN PERSON who can help your business thrive and prosper, plus establish that esoteric but very real credibility only an industry expert can sustain, is never out of fashion.  

On the numbers, some shows were roaring, others were dead, due largely to poor planning on the part of the organizers.  I’d peg 65% as an average turnout at the shows I’ve attended, compared to pre-Covid days.