Should Tech Companies Invest In Trade Shows

The tech industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world and arguably the most popular. Both tech companies and their underlying technology are making headlines every single day whether it is Uber, Amazon, blockchain, AI, or crypto. Tech have also been disrupting industries all over the world.

  • Camera brands such as Nikon, Olympus, and Kodak saw their market share getting evaporated when Apple released the iPhone.
  • The newspaper industry and traditional directories were destroyed by Google. Try asking a ten-year-old what YellowPages is.
  • Toy companies are getting disrupted by mobile apps. You can buy games from the App Store for $0.99 or even free compared to $83 (average of the top 15 hot toy list from Toys R Us).

Disruption doesn’t only happen in non-tech industries. Even tech companies are disrupting themselves! For example, Friendster was disrupted by MySpace. Myspace was disrupted by Facebook. Facebook was disrupted by ______. In the web browser industry, Netscape was disrupted by Internet Explorer then Firefox, and now Chrome. Who will be the next top web browser? Brave?

Tech companies who exhibit at trade shows

1. Google

2. Amazon

3. Tesla

4. eBay

Why trade shows?

The trade show industry has been growing steadily over the years despite the rise of Facebook and Google who are “connecting” us together.

As the world gets more “connected” online, face-to-face interaction becomes increasingly valuable. That is what trade shows provide – the ability to connect with like-minded individuals face-to-face.

Trade shows is the only marketing channel that allows you to:

  1. Get in front of multiple decision makers. For example, one of the biggest tech shows, CES drew in 182,198 attendees. Nearly 4 out of 10 of those attendees are senior-level executives (senior management, business owners, and C-level executives).
  2. Meet journalists and influencers in your industry in one location.

Imagine cold calling those decision makers and journalists to schedule a meeting to pitch your product. It would take hundreds of emails and hours of phone calls just to book a meeting with one decision maker.

When do trade shows make sense?

It depends on a few key things. One of them being the lifetime value of a client.

If you are starting the next Facebook, trade shows wouldn’t make much financial sense because generally, tech B2C companies have low customer lifetime value. For example, Facebook’s ARPU (average revenue per user) is $5.53. Assuming your ARPU is $5.53, you would need to attract and acquire a lot of users to break even.

If your LTV is over $100,000 then attending a trade show might be something you want to consider because winning one new client is all you need to break even for the show.

Another scenario is when you are a B2C company and you are selling through a retailer such as Sphero. The average price of their products is around the $100 mark. Sphero exhibited at CES because they wanted to get retailers to stock their products on their shelves.

“Several of our key relationships were born out of CES.” – Paul Berberian, CEO of Sphero. “…one deal with a retailer can pay for the entire event many times over. This has been the case for us every time we’ve exhibited.”

Example: Salesforce

As of 2018, they have over 1,600 customers who pay them over $1 million every year. Not one time, every year. Hence investing hundreds of thousands of dollars for a trade show makes sense.

Around 260 customers pay them over $5 million per year, around 100 customers pay them over $10 million per year and 24 customers pay them over $20 million per year. With those kinds of metrics, trade shows look like a very attractive marketing channel.

Getting the most out of your trade shows

Unless you are Google, Amazon, or Salesforce with multi-million dollar marketing budgets, every dollar counts when it comes to executing a trade show strategy.

Here are three things you need to consider:

1. Which trade show to attend?

Choosing a trade show to attend for a tech company is trickier than most industries. For example, if you are a mining company, you would attend a mining conference. But for tech, it isn’t that straightforward. For example, if you sell energy trade and risk management (ETRM) software, do you attend CES or an energy-related conference?

Read our post on how to choose the right trade show to attend.

2. Do you buy or rent?

Here is the short answer. If you are going to attend more than two trade shows, buy one. If not, rent.

Read our post on should you buy or rent an exhibition stand.

3. Which type of exhibition stands to go for?

There are three main types – Pop ups, custom, and modular.

Read our post on how to choose the right exhibition stand.

What do we recommend?

We believe the best value exhibition stand has to tick these five boxes:

  1. Portable
  2. Durable
  3. Lightweight
  4. Easy to install
  5. Makes you and your company look good

The TRIGA GO system is a modular exhibition display system that ticks all the five boxes above.

1. Portable: TRIGA packs down into portable carry bags which means you don’t need a logistic company to transport the stand for you when you exhibit internationally.

2. Durable: It is built to last a very long time. You don’t want your stand to break down after your second show.

3. Lightweight: You don’t want to exceed your 30kg weight limit when exhibiting internationally.

4. Easy to install: Don’t pay $50/hour installers to install and dismantle the stand. Plus, you don’t need any tools to do it.

5. Makes you and your company look good: Check.


Booking meetings with C-level executives and senior management is hard. Getting the attention of journalists to write about your company and product is equally difficult. These people are getting bombarded with other companies looking to get an hour of their busy schedule.

Trade shows allow you to get in front of these people without the need to cold call. Best of all, when they are at the show their goals are aligned with yours. Senior-level executives want to learn more about the next best software that can help take their business to the next level. A journalist is at a trade show to cover the next hot product.

Our range of exhibition displays

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