As we kick off the 2024 construction trade show season, you might be wondering if it’s worth the investment for your team to attend. There’s often a large upfront cost to attend and the logistics of team travel can be tedious. However, we’ve found that construction trade shows can be worth the price of admission if you know what type of return on investment you’re after.
If you’re on the fence about whether or not to prioritize trade shows this year, here are 3 benefits of attending construction trade shows that might move them to the top of your list:
Networking. What a business buzzword. But sometimes there’s a buzz because there’s something worth buzzing about. Networking at trade shows can be valuable in many ways, but here are our top two. First, you get increased access to experts. According to the Freeman Trends Report, 81% of tradeshow attendees prefer speaking with experts during networking over other types of interactions. The next highest was meeting new contacts in general at 68% (see point #1!) You get access to real conversations with industry experts that would be difficult for you to pin down otherwise. You also get the opportunity to meet up with others facing similar professional challenges to you, allowing you to brainstorm solutions together and find a common thread to bond over.
Additionally, we all know certain business deals are based on some combination of product or service and relationship. Is this person going to be easy to work with? Can I trust them enough to do business with them? Are they able to deliver? Will they connect me to other people who need my services or whose services I may need? In the age of digital relationships and cameras-off Zoom meetings, these in-person gatherings and invaluable for meeting new people and assessing whether you can help each other quickly.
Brand Awareness. Whether you’re signing up to be an exhibitor with a booth or coming as an attendee, there’s a huge opportunity to get your brand out there at construction trade shows.
As an Exhibitor….
Imagine your booth as a billboard on the side of a highway that only construction industry influencers and decision-makers are driving down for over 8 hours a day for three days. As a sample stretch of highway, let’s consider the International Builder’s Show hosted by NAHB. This tradeshow draws over 60,000+ attendees a year. Let’s say, that even just half (~ 30,000) of those attendees walk the floor your exhibit is on once a day for three days. That’s over 90,000 impressions if each person sees your booth once daily! That kind of targeted exposure could be well worth the price of admission, especially if a few of those 60,000+ attendees stop in your booth and turn into leads and customers!
As an Attendee…
Just because you don’t have a booth doesn’t mean you can’t be an ambassador for your brand while you’re out on the show floor. Talking to other people in the industry about your job still counts as putting your brand in front of people, even if you aren’t directly selling to them. The Rule of Seven refers to the common trend of 7 or more touchpoints with a brand being necessary before a sale is made. You can be one of those touchpoints for someone who needs what your company has to offer, all without a direct sales conversation (though those don’t hurt either if you can spot their need!).
Learn Something New. Trade shows hold a wealth of information on industry trends and innovations, including new products and services hitting the market. Freeman Trends Report shows that 70% of trade show attendees prefer to receive training and professional content in person, rather than participating in an online event. Your team will be inspired by learning with real people in the real world during live demonstrations and workshops. Experiential learning is also learning that tends to stick and spark creativity at home. This leads to our favorite bonus benefit…
Boost Morale & Team Building! Trade shows don’t just offer promotional, educational, and business relationship opportunities. They can offer interpersonal connection for your team in a way few other events will, depending on the location and environment. For example, CFMA’s Annual Conference & Exhibition hosts evening activities for teams to unwind, connect, and accomplish. This year, they’ve got a 5k + Beer Social, Golf Tournament, and a tour of AT&T Stadium, Home of the Dallas Cowboys on the books. Sure, you could schedule a mandatory pizza party or putt-putt golf afternoon with your team at home. However, offering them a chance to develop together professionally while presenting a variety of unique and exciting team-building opportunities (which you don’t have to organize!) will create more buy-in from employees. It will also help them foster deeper connections and make more meaningful memories together as they share a unique experience.
Additionally, some trade shows occur in exciting places your team may have been itching to visit. We know our team is excited to make the trek out to Las Vegas for IHBS this year (if you want to join the fun, here’s a free expo pass on us: Get My Free Pass)!
In short – trade shows are like the backstage pass for your team into the latest and greatest that’s about to hit the construction industry. You can increase brand visibility, network with experts, and gain valuable new insights all while increasing your teamwork and morale. These are things all companies, large and small, can benefit from.