Trade Show Misconceptions

Although trade shows have loyal followers, there are still many people who refuse to exhibit at trade shows. Trade shows have gotten a bad reputation that they are too expensive, that it’s a dying industry, and that they don’t bring in sales. We’re here to debunk these common trade show misconceptions and prove, once and for all, that the trade show industry is alive and well. 

Here are some of the most common trade show misconceptions (or trade show myths):

  • “No one attends trade shows anymore.”

There are close to 14,000 trade shows in the United States each year. According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, they have seen the highest increase in growth for the industry since the second quarter of 2007. People continue to attend trade shows and although the numbers fluctuate a bit, there has still been a consistent rate of growth. 

Quarterly CEIR Total Index for the Overall Exhibition Industry, Year-on-Year Growth, 2011Q1-2015Q1. Source: CEIR

  • “I can find new clients online.” 

Sure you can use the power of the internet, but think of all the time you’ll spend chasing after one client. At trade shows, you can meet hundreds of potential clients, all within the same day. You can ask them direct questions to figure out their needs, right off the bat, and it will save you time in the long run.

Linda Armstrong from Exhibitor Magazine says, “54 percent of sales initiated from an exhibition lead require three or fewer sales calls to close. However, the survey also shows that 61 percent of sales initiating from sources other than an exhibition require more than three sales calls to close.”

  • “People attending trade shows are not people I’m interested in meeting.”

Sometimes people assume that those that are attending trade shows as customers are people that drew the short stick. People that are probably new or inexperienced and that are being forced to attend the trade show by their company to “scope out what’s new.” However, it’s the opposite! CEIR states that “46% of trade show attendees are in Executive or Upper Management.” Close to half the people that attend have buying authority and who’s to say that the other half will not bring value to your business as well.. 

  • “Trade shows are expensive.”

There is definitely a cost associated with attending trade shows but trade shows also create the most prospects at the lowest cost-per-lead. According to the research by CEIR, the average cost to identify a potential customer was $96 at a trade show compared to $443 to identify a prospect “by means other than a trade show”

Save money by choosing local trade shows and analyzing carefully which type of audience the trade show is trying to reach, this way you’ll only attend trade shows that you believe are going to bring you a positive return on investment.

  • “We don’t get any sales.”

According to Statista, “49% buy exhibited products or services” at trade shows. However, most people are simply there to see what’s new and to find new business partners. Don’t be frustrated if you don’t get any immediate sales and instead, focus on getting quality leads.

Sales also depend on your industry. For example, we are in the printing industry where we produce banner stands, trade show displays, and outdoor displays. These aren’t products that  we can just sell at a trade shows. Our products are unique to our customers and need special customization. Instead, when we attend trade shows we educate our customers, get them excited about what we offer, and follow up with them after the trade show- which is when our sales usually happen.

  • “Trade Shows are old school.”

There is a lot of value in being able to meet face to face with your clients, and that’s something that hasn’t and won’t go out of fashion. You can use social media and your online presence to add to your trade show marketing plan, after all, they go hand in hand. Trade Shows are traditional, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t work! 

  • “No one will notice if I’m not there.”

You’re right on this one. No one will notice if you’re not there, unless you’re someone like Google or Apple. HOWEVER, they will notice your competitors. Attendees won’t know that they missed out on seeing you but they’ll meet with the companies that are directly competing with you. These companies that attended have a competitive edge over you! 


Trade shows are as popular as ever and businesses continue to see the benefit of exhibiting. Why wouldn’t you want to be part of this million dollar industry?

If you’re ready to attend a trade show, give us a call at 972-353-8008 and we can help with you trade show displays, banner stands, table throws and much more!

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