Q: How important is it for my software marketing plan to include exhibiting at tradeshows? They’re so expensive it takes a big chunk of my marketing budget to just have a presence every year.
A: Tradeshows are definitely less important now than they used to be. Before deciding whether or not it’s important to exhibit at the tradeshow (a marketing tactic) you need to answer three questions:
1. Is this event aligned with my marketing strategy?
2. Will key buying decision makers from my target customers be there?
3. Will my main competitors be attending or exhibiting at this tradeshow?
If you answer “yes” to all three, then it may be important for you to be at the show… but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to invest in an exhibitor booth. You could go just to network and meet potential customers and check out the competition. You could sign up to give a presentation. Perhaps you could partner with a complementary vendor and exhibit or make your marketing materials available in their booth at the tradeshow.
Tradeshows are more important in some segments than in others. For example, if you are a B2B company (business-to-business - you sell products or services to other companies) or if you sell through channels or distributors, then attending a trade show can be a valuable way of networking with prospective clients or partners.
If you do decide to attend a trade show, then make sure you have a good process in place to track and follow up with any leads and contacts that you get from the show.
How can you decide whether it is worthwhile to be at this tradeshow?
If the event doesn't support your software marketing goals and business objectives, then you'd only be wasting time, money and resources by attending.
This is why it is so important to write down your marketing strategy (click here for some tips) and to clearly define your target customer (this article can help you do that). You may find other ways to more cost-effectively reach your target customer base, such as these ideas here and here. For more tips and Q&A, take a look at our marketing tips page. Or you can go there to ask a question of an expert.
You can also check out this article for some top tips on developing your marketing plan.