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13 Trade shows in the business marketing
communications mix
Srinath Gopalakrishna and Gary L. Lilien
Trade shows have long been used as a forum for promoting sales of a variety of products,
dating back to medieval times when artisans and village folk exhibited their wares at local
fairs. Those fairs were a relatively inexpensive, yet convenient, way for local producers
to gain access to large numbers of potential buyers who came to attend the events from
neighboring towns and villages. That avor has essentially remained unchanged as trade
shows continue to occupy a prominent position within the B2B communications mix.
Trade shows also have a characteristic that dierentiates them from personal selling,
the dominant element in the B2B marketing mix: they bring current and prospective
customers to the seller rather than vice versa. Industry surveys during the past decade
repeatedly show that over 80 per cent of the attendees at a typical show have some inu-
ence on the eventual purchase decision and more than 50 per cent of show visitors have
specic plans to buy one or more products exhibited at a show within the next 12 months
( Such a high concentration of interested buyers and
sellers in a setting that lasts several days, combined with the opportunity for meaningful
face- to- face contact, creates a powerful forum for marketing communications.
Trade shows are big business. In 2009 the trade show industry in North America
attracted over 60 million attendees and 1.5 million exhibitors, generating an estimated
revenue of nearly $11.2 billion (CEIR 2010a). In the United States, Canada and Mexico
more than 14 000 trade shows were held in 2010, totaling over 700 million square feet of
exhibit space. The statistics covering 20 European countries reported by UFI, the Global
Association of the Exhibition Industry (based in Paris), are just as impressive, with an
estimated 112 million visitors and 1.3 million exhibitors attending over 4400 trade fairs
spanning nearly 588 million square feet in 2008 (Euro Fair Statistics 2008). Expenditures
on trade shows make up the largest share of the typical B2B communications budget
(nearly 18.6 per cent), ahead of print advertising (13.8 per cent) and direct mail (10 per
cent) (Stevens 2005). And the US exhibition industry grew substantially over the eight-
year period from 2000 to 2008, with net square feet of exhibit space growing by 21 per
cent and the number of attendees increasing by 10 per cent (CEIR 2010a). While the
2008–09 recession lead to a downturn in exhibitions, industry experts have expressed
cautious optimism in their outlook for the future (Exhibitor Magazine 2010), reinforced
by strong third- quarter statistics for 2010 based on positive growth in net square feet,
number of exhibitors and attendance (Trade Show Executive 2010).
Firms consistently report that lead generation is their most important objective for
exhibiting at a show, followed by the desire to introduce new products and services (CEIR
2006). Other reasons they cite as important include building awareness, recruiting dealers/
distributors, maintaining company image and exposure, discovering new applications for
existing products, monitoring competition and showing support for the sponsoring asso-
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Trade shows in the business marketing communications mix 227
ciation. Wu et al. (2008) conrm work by Kerin and Cron (1987) and Hansen (1999) that
suggests many rms have both short- term selling objectives (more amenable to measure-
ment and value assessment) and longer- term, non- selling objectives (less amenable to value
assessment). However, exhibitor decisions about which shows to attend and the economic
justication for such decisions continue to challenge practitioners and academics alike.
For example there is much folk wisdom but little hard data associated with valuing
the interaction that comes with trade show participation. The nature of the B2B context,
which often involves complex, large dollar transactions involving multiple decision-
makers, seems to suggest a need for face- to- face contact with prospective customers
(Hutt and Speh 2010). Trade shows oer a cost- eective way of making at least the initial
face- to- face contact. (Appendix 13.1 provides an illustrative cost- eectiveness analysis
of trade show exhibiting.) Qualitative support for these observations also comes from
surveys of attendees and exhibitors, more than 75 per cent of whom consider face- to- face
interactions with potential suppliers/customers extremely important (CEIR 2003).
Assessing the non- sales value of trade shows has proven challenging, though. As
Bonoma (1983) and others have noted, non- sales objectives are often imprecise and
thus hard to measure and value. For example what does it mean when a company says
it wants to ‘maintain corporate image’ by exhibiting? The relevant metrics for non- sales
objectives are generally either poorly dened or non- existent, and their relationships to
tangible outcomes are rarely established in a clear manner.
For a trade show to come about and be successful, three sets of actors must be
involved: attendees (mostly prospective short- or long- term buyers), exhibitors (mostly
prospective short- or long- term sellers) and show managers who organize and manage
the event. Show management transacts with exhibitors for the sale of oor space and to
provide other fee- based show services. They want exhibitors to have a successful experi-
ence, such that they will return to exhibit again at a future show. Exhibitors will return to
a show only if the attendees they were able to attract to their booth were of good quality
and the interactions led eventually to successful outcomes. Similarly, attendees will want
to return only if they felt that they had a cost- eective experience that enabled them to
nd products/solutions from alternative suppliers.
In the rest of this chapter we rst provide an overview of the impact of the technologi-
cal revolution on traditional trade show strategies. We then review relevant knowledge
on trade shows along three perspectives, starting with the exhibitor perspective where
we cover issues related to the planning and execution of trade show strategy, followed
by the viewpoints of trade show attendees and show management. We conclude with an
overview of implications and opportunities for academic research in this domain, as well
as lessons for managers.
The advent of the Internet and social media has had a dramatic impact on how B2B
customers use and exchange information. A recent study (CEIR 2009a) reports that
more than 75 per cent of show attendees rely on websites as their top source of industry
information, over 50 per cent prefer to receive information about a trade show via email
and nearly 90 per cent report being active on a social media website.
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228 Handbook of business-to-business marketing
These statistics point to the increasingly important role that information technology
(IT) is playing before, during and after the trade show. It is evident that IT has become
an essential tool for eective management: both trade show organizers (show manage-
ment) and exhibitors must develop comprehensive social media strategies to reach and
engage the audiences of today’s marketplace.
Building Communities Through Social Media
A CEIR survey of social media usage shows the increasing use of such media by younger
managers; overall, 88 per cent use a social media website, and younger respondents
are signicantly more likely to use online sites than older respondents (CEIR 2009a).
Facebook is the most frequently used social media site overall. It should come as no
surprise that such tools are becoming increasingly important as complements to the face-
to- face experience that trade shows provide. Hence event organizers and exhibitors are
beginning to integrate Internet and social media strategies into their overall event plan-
ning processes. Two examples are instructive (Exhibitor Magazine 2009):
Hewlett- Packard added a Twitter- based tactic to its exhibit marketing program
to promote its Procurve business (a line of networking products) at the May 2009
Interop show in Las Vegas. The goal was to capture 400 leads at the show (13
per cent more than the 2008 show). But with expected show attendance down
by more than 20 per cent from the previous year, this was clearly a challenging
goal. The rm set up a Twitter account and recruited 150 initial followers through
its website. Sales reps sent out a tweet once every other day, alerting recipients
about the new Procurve technology to be showcased, the ten partner companies
to be featured and the prizes to be given away. Tweeting increased in frequency
to once or twice daily as the show approached; during the three- day event, the
rm ratcheted its eorts up to ve or six tweets a day, urging followers to come to
the booth, locate one of eight products, nd a specic sta member and mention
a special password to win an iPod or a digital picture frame. Hewlett- Packard
eventually garnered 600 leads, an increase the company attributes largely to its
Twitter campaign.
The consulting rm Rick Grant and Associates Inc. contacted 75 current and
prospective clients who were not registered to attend the 2009 Technology in
Mortgage Banking Conference & Expo and asked them to sign up for a micro-
blogging medium. During the show, the rm updated Twitter followers about
happenings, such as conference sessions, new oerings on the show oor, gossip
overheard, the show facility, amenities and so on. The rm reported ‘signicantly
enhanced’ post- show relationships with clients who followed it on Twitter com-
pared with those who did not, though the higher response from followers may be
somewhat attributable to self- selection based on interest.
Event Websites
Websites are the most frequently used sources of industry information; it is imperative
that they permit prospective attendees to
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Trade shows in the business marketing communications mix 229
1. register online quickly and with ease;
2. create personalized schedules and download them to a smartphone;
3. access speaker presentations and the program handbook;
4. access all elements of the event.
A recent study examining the quality of trade show websites (Lee et al., 2008) may signal
the start of more systematic empirical research in this area.
Improving Exhibition Marketing Performance Through Better Digital Integration
The exhibition industry is nding digital media, in their many forms, to be excellent
means of increasing reach and improving eciency. Marketers in this space attempt to
enhance the attendee experience and deepen engagement. But there are very few reports
of how to measure the eectiveness of online advertising, the emails sent prior to the
event, the short/multi- media messaging services (SMS/MMS) used during the event,
audio downloads after the event or really simple syndication (RSS). Although such
digital media account for at least 10 per cent of the overall exhibit budget for most mar-
keters, few of them actually measure the impact of these activities (CEIR 2010b).
Virtual Trade Shows
The potential to reduce travel and event management costs signicantly makes virtual
trade shows a potentially valuable complement to, or substitute for, live events (see
Figure 13.1). However, personal engagement, a prime benet of trade shows, is missing
in this domain; a challenge for the industry and for researchers therefore is to assess the
relative benets and costs of online versus oine exhibitions.
Improved Attendee Tracking Technologies
Show attendees may believe their behavior at trade shows is anonymous. But new
attendee tracking technologies are making that belief far from accurate. Barcode and
radio frequency identication (RFID) devices (e.g. and
video- based tracking methods (see, as currently applied in retail
environments) capture the minute- by- minute movements of attendees, in much the same
way that clickstream data follow online activities. These data are only beginning to be
mined to help understand trade show dynamics and to assess eectiveness.
Implications for Research
These technological trends suggest that there are signicant research opportunities to (1)
use the new type of data being generated through new tracking technologies and those
accompanying virtual shows to assess what works and why; and (2) determine the cost-
eectiveness and synergies that new media may contribute to trade show performance.
New conceptual and operational models are needed to perform these assessments, and
several experiments conducted by rms and show organizers seem conducive to fruitful
industry–academic research collaborations.
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230 Handbook of business-to-business marketing
We review two elements of an exhibitor’s perspective: planning (role, show selection and
budgeting) and execution (pre- , during and post- show feedback and control).
Role of trade shows
The role of a trade show in the buying and selling process has engaged the attention of
academic researchers (Banting and Blenkhorn 1974; Herbig et al., 1998). Trade shows
can uncover previously unknown or inaccessible buying inuences, project a favorable
corporate image, provide product information, generate qualied leads for salespeople,
handle customer complaints and so on (Hutt and Speh 2010). They also can satisfy
competitive objectives (e.g. intelligence gathering), enhance employee morale and help
support personal selling activities.
Source:; see
player.html for an example of how such shows work
Figure 13.1 Virtual trade shows
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Trade shows in the business marketing communications mix 231
The role of trade shows in the B2B communications mix can be best understood by
investigating their potential role in buying and selling processes. The buying process in
a B2B transaction has been characterized as a series of stages (Wind and Thomas 1994).
Column 1 in Figure 13.2 highlights those stages. Buyers in each stage may have dierent
information needs. Similarly, the marketer faces a multi- stage sales process involving
dierent communication objectives (Column 2) that imply dierent sales tasks (Column
3). Some objectives (e.g. awareness generation) are handled more cost- eectively by
impersonal communication channels, while others (e.g. customization) demand personal
contact; thus most rms employ a mix of both.
Trade shows combine aspects of direct selling (there are almost always some sales-
people at the booth) and advertising (the booth can generate awareness and answer some
questions even without the involvement of salespeople). They may play a cost- eective
role in the communications mix, especially in the early stages of the process; their eec-
tiveness diminishes as the buying process progresses toward evaluation and selection,
though they may be a bit more cost- eective in providing feedback on product/service
performance after the sale (Gopalakrishna and Lilien 1995). Similarly, from the seller’s
perspective trade shows can be eective for prospecting, opening a relationship, qualify-
ing prospects and even presenting the sales message (Churchill et al., 1993).
Objectives for participation
Research on trade show objectives has often been conned to noting their importance
(Cavanaugh 1976) and documenting diering objectives across rms or industries
(Barczyk et al., 1989) and exhibitors or visitors (Hansen 1996; Siskind 2006; Tanner and
Customer Buying
Process Stage
Marketer Communication
Marketer Communication
Relative Communication Eectiveness
Low High
Identify need Arouse interest Prospecting
Develop short list Be selected for short list Presenting sales message
Request proposals Submit winning proposal Presenting sales message
Review proposals Create preference Presenting sales message
Negotiate Preserve margins Presenting sales message
Select vendor Win Closing sale
Install and use Satisfy and support usage Account service Advertising Trade show Personal
Research solutions Be known to research
Opening relationship,
qualifying prospect
Upgrade Upsell, cross-sell Build and enhance
Source: Adapted from Gopalakrishna and Lilien (1995) and Stevens (2005).
Figure 13.2 The buying and selling process and the communications mix
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232 Handbook of business-to-business marketing
Chonko 1995). Although large expenditures are involved in exhibiting, CEIR reports
that more than 70 per cent of exhibitors go to a trade show without clearly stated objec-
tives (Stevens 2005). Management may emphasize the importance of dening objectives
and measuring performance for all marketing programs, yet the trade show literature
oers only general suggestions to exhibitors, such as ‘have objectives that are realistic yet
challenging’ or ‘make sure your objectives are measurable’ (Stevens 2005, p. 51).
Kerin and Cron (1987) study the specic articulation and measurement of perform-
ance on eight dierent exhibitor objectives using a survey of exhibit managers in dierent
rms. They measure performance on a seven- point Likert scale and nd that rms with
successful trade show programs tend to exhibit more products, have more customers,
have written objectives for show participation and focus less on horizontal shows. Their
study represents the only reported academic research that formally documents perform-
ance according to objectives, though the measurements employed are subjective ratings
by exhibit managers.
Stevens (2005) suggests linking the objectives with metrics that will allow for the meas-
urement of results. She also suggests a variety of metrics for dierent exhibitor objec-
tives, adding that metrics must reect business reality if the objectives are to be realistic
(for an illustration, see Table 13.1).
Although trade show return on investment (ROI) is a popular discussion topic, a clear
demonstration of those returns in a given setting remains a challenge. The long and
complex buying cycles for most B2B products and the presence of multiple channels for
sales and customer contact create much confusion in sorting out the eects of dierent
media over an extended period. Thus the ROI question often gets transformed into a
discussion of return on objectives (ROO), such that managers set clear (non- nancial)
objectives for a trade show, specify the associated metrics and report how they delivered
against those objectives. By doing so they are able to provide some form of reasonable
justication of the value derived by exhibiting at the show, but they leave the ROI ques-
tion largely unanswered (cf. Gopalakrishna et al., 1995).
Show selection and budgeting
An important element of any trade show strategy is the choice of the specic shows in
which a rm decides to participate. Although literature on trade show practices in this
domain provides various guidelines and rules of thumb, academic research is scant. Most
rms seem to rely on inertia, competitive pressure or some ad hoc process that involves
listing potential shows, then ranking them on the basis of the audience prole for each
show, its net attendance in past years, projected attendance, number of likely exhibitors,
cost of exhibiting and so on (CEIR 1993, 1995; Stevens 2005).
Academic research has addressed the show selection issue at a more general level. For
example, Lilien (1983) shows that a rm is most likely to use trade shows as a commu-
nication medium if the product to be displayed is complex, is carried in inventory, has
high sales levels, has high purchase frequency and involves many people in the purchase
decision. Other research discusses show selection at a conceptual level (Shoham 1992),
and the research by Kijewski et al. (1993) oers a model of the trade show decision
process that involves setting exhibit objectives, developing a show consideration set,
ranking show options, budget evaluation, show selection (Go/No Go), implementation
and post- show audit.
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Trade shows in the business marketing communications mix 233
There is also limited research in the trade show budgeting domain. Lilien (1983) nds
that the level of spending on trade shows is greater for products that have aggressive
plans, high levels of sales and low customer concentration and are early in their life cycle.
Such analyses can be used as norms or guidelines for show budgeting. In practice, setting
trade show budgets is largely based on rules of thumb. For example, an approximate
breakdown of exhibit spending on dierent expense categories appears in Table 13.2.
Another rule of thumb noted by a trade show consulting rm is that the trade show
budget must be at least four times the cost of booth space, plus a 10 per cent add- on for
miscellaneous expenses (Stevens 2005).
Pre- show
The objective of pre- show promotions is to target the highest quality prospects and
invite them to visit the rm’s booth, make an appointment for a conversation or other-
wise establish contact at the trade show (Stevens 2005). An eective pre- show strategy
Table 13.1 Setting specic metrics around objectives
Primary Objective Examples of Associated Metrics Ease of Measurement
Introduce new product Number of demos given
Number of samples ordered
Number of press mentions
Number of booth visitors
Moderately easy
Generate sales leads Number of qualied leads
Cost per qualied lead
Enter new market Number of prospects by industry
Number of requests for proposals received
Generate company/brand
Number of booth visitors
Number of yers distributed
Visibility opportunities
Pre-/post-show awareness levels
Moderately easy
Moderately easy
Recruit channel partners Number of partners recruited
Geographic penetration
Competitive research Number of competitors at the show
Competitive analyses done
Retain current customers Customer appointments scheduled and held
New product demos to current customers
Support industry Association events attended
Investment in association sponsorship
Note: The appropriate metrics and their measurements may be known, but it is far more challenging to link
them to bottom-line metrics such as return on investment.
Source: Adapted from Stevens (2005, pp. 54–5).
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234 Handbook of business-to-business marketing
typically has two aspects: qualication (determining which prospective show attendees
represent good opportunities for the exhibitor and are therefore worthy of establishing
contact) and invitation (promoting a visit to the booth for qualied attendees).
Pre- show tactics should align with the exhibiting objectives. For example, if the
goal is to generate sales leads, the pre- show promotion strategy should be to attract
qualied prospects to the booth. Similarly if the goal is to retain current customers,
the strategy would be to maximize customer appointments and convey appreciation
for the customers’ business and their relationships. A 2000 CEIR study identies direct
mail, past show attendance, trade publication ads and word of mouth as the four top
communication channels through which prospects can be reached eectively prior to
the show (Stevens 2005). Attracting attendees to the booth also involves promotion
activity at the show, and exhibitors report the use of email, giveaways, premiums,
samples, print and online advertising and direct mail to great extents to achieve that
objective (CEIR 2009c).
Exhibitors spend about 6 per cent of their entire trade show budget on promotion
(Stevens 2005). Factors such as size of the trade show, type of show (vertical/horizontal)
or the value of sales also inuence the level of pre- show investment, but these issues have
not been explored in a systematic way.
During the show
An exhibiting rm must deal with multiple tactical issues to ensure an eective presence
at the show, including booth location, size, design, stang and at- show promotion.
Booth location
There are several opinions about the ‘ideal’ location of a booth on the show oor. The
common view holds that because of the sheer advantage of heavy trac volume, locating
near the entrance or exit is preferable to being in the middle of the show oor. Another
view suggests that locating near a competitor or close to a big booth or a well- known
brand name can be an advantage, as opposed to staying far away from competitors.
These conjectures have not been subjected to rigorous empirical analysis and therefore
appear to have little scientic basis. Exhibit Surveys Inc. has examined several trade
shows held at McCormick Place in Chicago and the Houston Astrodome to investigate
Table 13.2 How an exhibit dollar is spent
Expense Category Percentage Spent Amount Spent ($Billion)
Exhibit space 31.1% $7.5
Exhibit design 11.2% $2.7
Show services 20.3% $4.9
Shipping 10.8% $2.6
Travel &entertainment 15.3% $3.7
Promotion 7.5% $1.8
Other 3.8% $0.9
Total 100% $24.1
Source: CEIR(2007).
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Trade shows in the business marketing communications mix 235
the issue of booth location. They report no statistical correlation between booth location
and booth trac or memorability (Trade Show Bureau 1983).
Booth size
The space rented by a rm on the show oor is the largest single item in the overall
exhibit budget, making up 31 per cent (see Table 13.2). Industry wisdom suggests that
the booth size decision must be based on the rm’s objectives for exhibiting (Stevens
2005). One heuristic considers the size of the target audience to be reached, the exhibit
hall hours and number of possible demos per hour (Appendix 13.2, Part B, describes the
details of one such approach).
Booth type, layout and design
The decision about the type of booth involves options such as standard (within a row,
facing the aisle), island (aisles on four sides, which oer more dimensionality), peninsula
(end of row, with aisles on three sides) and corner (end of row, bordered by two aisles)
booths. Booth layout involves several dimensions, including the attraction strategy, the
nature of the product and the activities planned for the booth (Stevens 2005). The attrac-
tion strategy refers to aspects such as whether the booth should have an open/ inviting
look or a closed/internally focused design, or else a combination. These choices are driven
by the rm’s objectives and the nature of the audience. (For an example of how eective
booth design produced better results for Mattel, see Exhibitor Magazine 2003.) The activi-
ties planned for the booth, such as product demos, video monitors, computer stations,
theaters, space for private meetings or refreshments also have an impact on booth layout.
Booth design and graphics involve decisions about signage, lighting, carpets, color and
images. Research on the impact of all these elements on booth trac is scarce and dicult
to conduct, because data on these variables are not collected or assembled systematically.
Booth stang
Stang involves decisions about the number of salespeople who need to be working
the booth at any given time and adequate training for the booth sta in the set of skills
needed for eective booth results. The business press oers plenty of ad hoc, judicious
guidelines about sta selection, training and booth management. For example, there
are suggestions about selecting booth personnel with characteristics similar to the audi-
ence, choosing neither seasoned salespeople nor rookies, striving for a mix of specialized
product knowledge and technical skills and so on (Stevens 2005).
Giveaways and attention- getting techniques
These tactics are commonly used to draw audiences to the booth and can involve demos
(which attract better quality visitors) or gimmicks, such as oering free pens and key
chains, hosting a magic show or bringing in a celebrity to sign autographs (which typi-
cally draw lower quality visitors). Again these decisions are rarely subject to rigorous
analysis or measurement.
Post- show
The focus in the post- show phase is collecting relevant data about performance metrics
that correspond to appropriate exhibitor objectives. Much of these data are drawn from
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236 Handbook of business-to-business marketing
post- show surveys of audiences and from visitors who stop at the booth during the show.
The biggest hurdle is tracking sales leads generated at the show to see how many and
which converted into a sale. The long purchase cycles and many intervening inuences in
most B2B sales situations create a measurement and analysis challenge, but such track-
ing is essential to assess the true eectiveness of trade shows.
Evaluation and Control
As noted previously, various ad hoc approaches to trade show planning and strategy
execution have appeared in the trade journals. This aspect is true in the area of perform-
ance evaluation and control as well (Stevens 2005). There is limited documentation in
the business press of the proven value of activities such as comparing post- show meas-
urements with pre- show behaviors or tracking leads to eventual sales. Most practical
managerial suggestions appear based on limited empirical work.
On the academic side, the issue of evaluating trade show eectiveness received only
cursory interest (Bellizzi and Lipps 1984; Carman 1968) before researchers began to
highlight the need for a systematic measurement of outcomes (Herbig et al., 1994).
Some empirical research involving metrics, such as lead eciency (Gopalakrishna and
Williams 1992), has since led to the development of appropriate scales and the validation
of performance metrics (Hansen 2004). Other academic studies, as briey noted next,
oer promise for more advanced empirical research in this domain.
We have developed a three- stage model of trade show performance that relies on dif-
ferent indices of performance at each stage: attraction, contact and conversion eciency
(Gopalakrishna and Lilien 1995). We view the process as a funnel, such that the target
audience for a rm at a trade show is only a subset of total show attendance. A fraction
of the target audience ends up visiting the rm’s booth (attraction eciency), a subset
of those visiting the booth actually make contact with a salesperson (contact eciency)
and only a fraction of those contacted turn into a sales lead (conversion eciency). We
model the impacts of pre- show promotion, booth space, use of attention- getting tech-
niques, competition, and the number and training of booth sta on these three indices,
which we treat as performance outcomes (dependent variables). Our empirical results
show signicant and dierent impacts of the various managerial actions on the three
dependent variables; this work provides a template for rigorously assessing the trade-
os and impact of tactical variables on a rm’s trade show performance.
The value derived by exhibiting at a trade show and its impact on the bottom line is
a subject of intense discussion among managers (Sashi and Perretty 1992). In a study
to assess the ROI of a rm’s participation in a trade show, Gopalakrishna et al. (1995)
track a group of matched show attendees and non- attendees for one exhibiting rm and
report signicant positive economic returns to the rm. Their empirical results are not
generalizable, but their approach can be used as a template to determine both the direct
(sales) eects of show participation and other outcomes, such as greater product aware-
ness and interest (indirect eects).
Smith et al. (2004) investigate the complementary eect of trade shows on personal
selling from an integrated marketing communications perspective. With a eld study
involving a group of industrial distributors, they demonstrate that follow- up sales eorts
can be reduced by about 50 per cent but generate the same level of sales if prospective
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Trade shows in the business marketing communications mix 237
customers have previously seen the product at a trade show. They also demonstrate how
knowledge of a prospect’s exposure to the rm’s product at the trade show can help allo-
cate post- show sales eort across prospective customers more eectively. Other researchers
have acknowledged the leverage oered by trade shows for managing key accounts (Blythe
2002) and, more generally, enhancing the selling aspects (O’Hara 1993; Tanner 1994).
Implications for Research
All of the potentially relevant objectives for show participation are rarely equal in
importance; they may vary across exhibitor rms, and for the same rms, they may vary
across shows. Systematic measurement of these objectives and their antecedents should
provide a foundation for a better understanding of show eectiveness and the role that
managerial actions play in enhancing that eectiveness. For example, given a specic
objective for trade show participation, which pre- show activities are most or least
eective in achieving that objective? Can we determine, in a more scientic way, how
investment in pre- show activity should be allocated across elements of the pre- show mix
to optimize objectives for a specic show? Similar questions might be addressed for at-
show and post- show marketing investments. In particular small rms may nd the show
environment rather challenging as they try to compete against bigger rivals. They face
greater resource constraints and may benet more from a dierent resource deployment
strategy (Tanner 2002; Williams et al. 1993). Similarly, show selection decisions tend
to draw heavily on managerial judgment and experience. Although attempts to reect
the entire trade show process from pre- show invitation to post- show sale have begun to
appear (Lee and Kim 2008; Sridhar et al. 2011), more comprehensive studies are needed
to model and trace the trade show process from end- to- end for dierent customer types,
dierent products and dierent industry settings.
Attendees represent a vital link in the value chain. Show management and exhibitors
understand that a satisfying, enriching and fun experience for the attendee has a high
likelihood of ensuring repeat visits and building show attendance in the future (Smith et
al., 2003). Thus, gaining deeper insights into attendees’ behavior and activities as they
experience the show is an important and valuable element of organizing a successful
trade show.
Eorts to understand why attendees visit trade shows appear in prior literature
(Godar and O’Connor 2001). Bello (1992) examines buyer behavior at trade shows with
an adaptive approach and nds that three elements of declarative knowledge, decisions
made, information sought and sources used, vary with the attendee’s role. In a follow- up
study, Bello and Lohtia (1993) demonstrate that show attendees t into two broad roles:
administrative and production. To obtain high quality leads, they suggest that salespeo-
ple should actively try to contact all key members of the attendee rm’s buying team.
For highly qualied booth visitors, salespeople should base their show selling plans
on an analysis of the size and composition of the attendee’s buying center, with larger
(customer) rms sending larger and more diverse teams than smaller rms. Production
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238 Handbook of business-to-business marketing
people appear more interested in technical information, but administrative people are
more interested in transactional information.
Rosson and Seringhaus (1995) report that visitors from smaller rms have direct
inuence over purchasing, but attendees from larger rms are more likely to be middle
managers collecting information that will merely be inputs for purchasing. They also
report that
multi- person attendance signals an immediate purchase or technology implemen-
an invitation from a vendor is the most inuential factor in an attendee’s decision
to attend;
intensive and special- purpose users carefully map out their visits, using (online)
exhibition directories, exhibitor invitations and discussions with colleagues;
booths are best remembered if they are large and well- designed, with an eective
sta and a live display.
Berne and Garcia- Uceda (2008) report that attendees consider the same show features
as do potential exhibitors when deciding which shows to visit: the experience of the show
organizer, the breadth and depth of the set of exhibitors, the show’s capacity to attract
visitors, the presence of competitors at the show, sponsorship or endorsement of the
event by public and private associations and the cost/convenience of the place or timing.
Rinallo et al. (2010) use ethnographic methods to study ten shows in the textile
industry and nd that an attendee’s typical visit starts with market leaders, continues
with regular suppliers, and features residual time devoted to other suppliers. Attendees
indicate that a valuable trade show experience provides cognitive stimulation, resulting
in learning and new knowledge and an opportunity to relate to exhibitors and other visi-
tors, which forges a sense of community.
Although most attendee research reported thus far has been survey based, new
advances in technology now permit a ner level of data access and capture. Using data
on booth visits captured with badge swipes across a large number of booths at a specic
show, it is possible to track attendees in terms of the exact booths they visited and the
sequence in which those visits happened. Gopalakrishna et al. (2010) study attendee
behavior on the trade show oor and identify ve distinct shoppers: a basic shopper,
enthusiasts, the niche shopper, brand shoppers and apathetic shoppers. For example,
brand shoppers seek out popular booths but also visit all the booths in which they are
interested; they know what they want to accomplish and are ecient about doing so.
In contrast, apathetic shoppers tend to be newcomers or attendees who have diculty
navigating the trade show oor or are unfamiliar with the trade show environment; their
visits follow no discernible pattern.
Implications for Research
The advent of RFID devices aords opportunities not hitherto seen in this research
domain. RFID enables more accurate tracking of attendee movements on the show
oor or within the connes of a specic booth. It also provides information about how
long a visitor looked at an exhibit. Hui et al. (2009a) propose a framework to analyze
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Trade shows in the business marketing communications mix 239
path data and provide some interesting insights on customer behavior in the context
of grocery shopping (Hui et al., 2009b, 2009c). Similarly new video tracking systems
that digitize video signals (movements) and monitor the trade show oor (videomining.
com) provide a source of customer tracking data that can be used in a similar way to
RFID data. It is exciting to consider the research implications of marrying these forms
of data.
Academic research from the exhibitor and attendee perspectives may be scarce, but
research from the trade show management perspective is almost non- existent. Show
organizers are interested in developing (protable) shows that provide high levels of
satisfaction for both exhibitors and attendees. A recent study of exhibition organizers
(CEIR 2009b) showed that more than 80 per cent believe that partnerships with exhibi-
tors are critical to the success of their show. They also believe that using more than one
advertising or promotional vehicle is critical to building a good base of attendees.
According to the study, show organizers are of two types: those who favor online mar-
keting (nearly 40 per cent) and those who favor traditional marketing methods (par-
ticularly direct mail). They believe that online marketing is less expensive but also less
eective than direct mail.
Organizers also assert that traditional methods, such as direct mail, produce more
success with older attendees, whereas new methods like email or social networking tools
(LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) are eective with younger attendees. Some other ndings
from that study reveal that (1) direct mail and email comprise two- thirds of the organ-
izers’ marketing budgets; (2) the average expenditure on attendee marketing for the most
recent exhibition was $247 000; and (3) 72 per cent of corporate event organizers believe
traditional methods are becoming less reliable and plan to promote entirely online within
three years (CEIR 2009b).
Acquiring new attendees remains an ongoing concern for trade show organizers.
Allowing access to pre- and post- show attendee lists and working with exhibitors to
institute new and innovative promotion activities through social networking or virtual
booths represent avenues that potentially generate new revenue stream opportunities.
Many organizers use virtual events (e.g. webcasts/webinars, two- or three- dimensional
simulated trade show environments) to complement live events (see Figure 13.1). And
though social media seem to provide signicant ROI with regard to the promotion of
a trade show, few organizers have the means to measure that impact. Developing an
eective strategy to promote the show to attract prospective exhibitors has become an
important challenge for show management. For example, the National Association of
Broadcasters show (a top digital media industry event) recently hired a vice president of
strategic accounts to help retain and grow its exhibitor base.
Online channels provide greater insight into customers’ preferences, oering audiences
a platform to engage with the brands and their peers on their own terms. This movement
toward a more customer- centric approach aligns closely with the increasingly experi-
ential nature of the exhibition engagement model and marketers’ eorts to build and
nurture communities of interest around their events.
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240 Handbook of business-to-business marketing
Implications for Research
One of the few research articles in this domain, by Wu et al. (2008), models the trade
show formation process. Vertical shows that display a narrow range of products (such
as the Association of Operating Room Nurses show) are more likely to attract partici-
pants with a high degree of interest in purchase transactions (by both buyers and sellers).
Horizontal shows (such as National Manufacturing Week) that feature a broad range of
products are more likely to attract attendees with less immediate interest in buying but
who have a high breadth of product interests, and are likely to be especially prevalent
in highly innovative industries. However, their research is descriptive in nature and says
little about what show organizers should be doing. The link between marketing resources
and exhibitor performance continues to engage and intrigue researchers (Li 2007, 2008).
In particular, the globalization of B2B markets has focused attention on topics such
as exporting products through trade shows (Bello and Barksdale 1986), cross- national
comparisons of trade show performance (Dekimpe et al., 1997; Palumbo et al., 1998),
exploring the value of non- selling activities and interactions at trade shows (Rice 1992;
Sharland and Balogh 1996) and developing a broad research agenda for trade shows in
the global arena (Seringhaus and Rosson 1994). There is a large amount of uncharted
research territory here: what type of shows organizers should develop in dierent types
of markets, how those shows should be marketed to exhibitors and attendees, what is the
best mix of online and oine shows and how show organizers can manage their shows
for the long term by applying customer lifetime value concepts to the equity they have
created by investing in the shows they have organized.
The changing nature of the B2B environment, from both supplier and buyer perspec-
tives, as driven largely by the technological revolution, is also changing the nature of the
traditional trade show environment. That change, combined with increasing insistence
on accountability, will provide incentives for exciting and relevant academic research in
the years to come.
Managerial Implications
Our review has identied several templates for rms trying to determine which shows to
attend; how much to spend on pre- show, at- show and post- show activities; and which
promotional and measurement methods are appropriate. Our review also indicates that
though some useful templates exist, their application is limited largely because managers
do not understand or lack the discipline to develop the associated measurements or track
the relevant metrics. The perfect may be the enemy of the good here. Even a simple, dis-
ciplined approach to setting and weighting specic objectives; determining appropriate
metrics for those objectives; determining which shows to attend and what to do in terms
of pre- , at- , and post- show activity; measuring the impact of those actions using the
appropriate metrics; and updating show evaluation and eectiveness models can turn the
trade show decision process into a business investment, rather than a business expense.
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Trade shows in the business marketing communications mix 241
The technological revolution has forced retailers and shopping malls to evolve rapidly
when sales functions that previously could only take place there moved online. And con-
sumers now communicate with retailers and with one another in new ways. But shopping
malls do not appear to be in any danger of disappearing; customers still want to touch
products, talk to other buyers face- to- face and talk to real salespeople. So it is with trade
shows: the technological revolution is changing the landscape drastically, but trade shows
are in no danger of going away. However, they are evolving rapidly. The need for better
measurement and accountability is converging with more cost- eective and unobtrusive
attendee measurement methods, providing many of the exciting research opportunities
we have noted. Trade shows will be around and thrive, both o- and online, in the years
to come. And if these new data sources are used appropriately, show exhibitors should
be able to justify show attendance as an investment rather than as an expense. Attendees
will have better tools and information sources to plan their trade show visits and maxi-
mize their personal ROI. Trade show organizers will be able to provide a broader, deeper
and more protable range of oerings, on- and oine, for attendees and exhibitors alike.
The authors thank Skip Cox, CEO and President, Exhibit Surveys, Inc., and Christophe
Van den Bulte for their valuable suggestions. They also thank Stephen Hampton and
Vamsi Kanuri, doctoral students in Marketing at University of Missouri, for their help
in organizing the literature.
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Trade shows in the business marketing communications mix 243
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244 Handbook of business-to-business marketing
In 2009, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) conducted a telephone
survey among sales and marketing managers across various industry sectors. Annual
sales for the rms in the study were greater than $50 million. Respondents answered
several questions pertaining to sales eort, costs and so on, such as: ‘Prior to a sales
call, what is the average cost of identifying a prospect through means other than a trade
show?’ A summary of the ndings from the survey reveals the following:
Therefore, closing a sale with a potential customer from a trade show, versus one found
in the eld, saves an organization nearly $914 per new customer.
Cost of identifying a prospect at a trade show $96
Cost of identifying a prospect through means other than a trade show $443
Cost of making a face-to-face contact with a prospect in the eld (sales call) $596
Number of calls to close a sale starting with a trade show lead 3.5
Number of calls to close a sale without a trade show lead 4.5
Total cost to close the sale with a trade show lead $2188
Total cost to close the sale without a trade show lead $3102*
Sample size was 214. The average annual cost of exhibiting reported by respondents, based on an average of
6.8 shows a year, was $153 763.
* Computed as follows: $596 3 4.5 1 443 5 $3125. Numbers dier slightly due to rounding.
Source: CEIR 2009d.
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Trade shows in the business marketing communications mix 245
Part A
This example highlights the idea that the metrics employed for assessment must reect
the marketplace realities. Say a rm that manufactures pneumatic seals wants to intro-
duce its product to a new industry segment (plastics) at a forthcoming show. It is impor-
tant to research the trade show attendance, read the exhibitor guide and talk to show
management. Say last year’s attendance at the same show was 5000, of which 15 per
cent represented the plastics industry. Of the 750 potential targets, show management
suggests that approximately 50 per cent are likely to pass by the rm’s booth during the
exhibit hall hours. So, the metric may be:
Give a demo to as many of 375 prospects as possible.
Next, the rm must ensure that is a realistic goal, given the resources at its disposal.
If a one- to- one demo takes 15 minutes and the plan is to have three salespeople at demo
stations, it is possible to perform 12 demos per hour. With 375 likely prospects, the rm
needs 31.25 hours of demos. But what if the exhibit hall is open for only 25 hours? The
rm will need either to add more salespeople or reduce the number of possible demos it
can realistically hope to make at the show.
Such analysis can help assess the viability of the metrics being used. The idea is to
employ metrics that are aggressive yet attainable, given the realities of the trade show,
the audience and the resources available at the rm’s disposal.
Part B
If the target is 375 demos during the 25 exhibit hall hours and one rep can accomplish 4
demos per hour, the number of salespeople needed is as follows:
Number of salespeople 5 375/(25 3 4) 5 3.75 (rounded to 4).
Typically, about 50 square feet of space is needed for one demo station. Thus, the rm
will need at least 200 square feet of booth space (possibly a 10 3 20 foot booth). This
illustration is adapted from Stevens (2005, pp. 55–6).
M2837 - LILIEN 9781849801423 PRINT.indd 245 18/11/2011 14:18
... Clear articulation of objectives for the in-person and/or the online format will become the norm as demands for accountability will increase in the resource-constrained settings of the future. Linking the objectives with appropriate metrics will allow for the measurement of results that reflect business reality (see Appendix 13.1/13.2 in Gopalakrishna and Lilien 2012). ...
... An exhibiting firm must deal with multiple tactical issues to ensure an effective presence at the show, including booth location, size, design, staffing, and at-show promotion. For a detailed discussion of these aspects, see Gopalakrishna and Lilien (2012). Exhibitors in hybrid settings must be cognizant of both audiences: in-person and online. ...
... best -social -media -platforms -for -business/ . 3. See Table 13.1 in Gopalakrishna and Lilien (2012) for a list of traditional trade show metrics and Appendix 13.2 for an outline on how to link those metrics to trade show goals. ...
... Furthermore, according to Simon and Tossan (2018), consumer satisfaction predicts customer engagement. As a result, a customer's satisfaction with a product or brand will influence their engagement with the brand/product (Thakur 2018;Gopalakrishna and Lilien 2012;Carlson et al. 2018). In addition, some studies have tried to clarify that service quality is allied to customer engagement (Roy et al. 2018a, Roy et al. 2018bVerleye et al. 2014). ...
... However, according to some reports, consumer satisfaction would significantly affect customer engagement (Thakur 2018;Gopalakrishna et al. 2012). Though, service quality indirectly impacts customer loyalty through customer satisfaction as a mediating element. ...
... Third, we find customer satisfaction substantially impacts customer engagement (Table 7). Customer satisfaction and customer engagement have been related in previous studies (Thakur 2018;Gopalakrishna et al. 2012;Carlson et al. 2017;Simon and Tossan 2018). Customer satisfaction serves as an affecting (moderating) variable between brand experience and customer engagement value, according to Carlson et al. (2017). ...
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This study examines the linkage between service quality, customer satisfaction, and customer engagement in Indian public sector banks. The study explored the mediating role of customer satisfaction between perceived service quality and customer engagement. Primary data were collected through a structured questionnaire from the two hundred and fifty respondents. Hierarchical multiple regression is used to find out the mediation effect. The study found that customer satisfaction mediates service quality and customer engagement. The study's findings provide new insights for the banking sector to enhance customer satisfaction and engagement.
... Trade shows (TSs) constitute an integral element of the industrial marketing communication mix (Gopalakrishna & Lilien, 2012;Tafesse & Skallerud, 2017). Although TSs are still an under-researched stream in business-to-business (B2B) marketing (Sarmento & Simões, 2018), they generate a significant amount of business. ...
... According to the CEIR (2015), during the 2007-2015 period, the TS industry faced severe fluctuations in growth (see also Gopalakrishna & Lilien, 2012). Understanding the causes of such fluctuations is important for organizers. ...
... Given the complexity in sorting out the effects of other media over time, a return-on-investment analysis can be transformed into a returnon-objectives query (Gopalakrishna & Lilien, 2012). However, more than 70% of exhibitors attend shows without a clear, formal objective (Gopalakrishna & Lilien, 2012;Stevens, 2005) and 45% of B2B marketers struggle to make a strong business case for their TS investments (Brown, Mohan, & Boyd, 2017). ...
Trade shows (TSs) are a cost-effective method for companies to meet with customers and prospects, network with different stakeholders, and introduce new products. Although short-term, face-to-face interactions can offer cost-savings by reducing the sales cycle length or by developing closer ties with strategic partners, questions remain regarding firms’ expectations of TS participation. For example, what are the drivers of business-to-business (B2B) TS participation and total investment? This four-study research evaluates the total investment of prospective exhibitors in relation to the rationale for exhibiting at a TS and adopts the organizer’s view as the main interpretative lens. The data analysis entails Tobit modeling, replication, and difference-in-differences modeling. The results suggest that exhibitor participation is related to performance expectations. By incorporating the means-end theory, this study examines the role of intangible long-term expectations (image-building, relationship-building, motivation-enhancing) versus tangible short-term expectations (sales-related, information-gathering) in determining TS investment (as a proxy of perceived value).
... Targi zamknięte są organizowane w formacie paneli ekspozycyjnych najczęściej pojedynczego wystawcy, a ilość zaproszonych osób jest limitowana. Szczególnie popularne są one na rynkach wyklarowanej dystrybucji oraz w branżach opartych na relacjach B2B (Gopalakrishna et al., 2022). Targi otwarte są dostępne dla wszystkich zainteresowanych daną tematyką i zwykle opierają się na rywalizacji między wieloma wystawcami z danej branży o uwagę konsumenta (B2C). ...
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Targi wystawiennicze stanowią jeden ze sposobów komunikacji bezpośredniej z klientem. Firmy wykorzystują je w celu realizacji założeń sprzedażowych oraz poprawy wizerunku. Celem artykułu jest przedstawienie znaczenia targów stacjonarnych i wirtualnych we współczesnym zarządzaniu marką z uwzględnieniem doświadczeń zdobytych podczas pandemii COVID-19. Marketing wystawowy może być korzystną praktyką promocyjną, która może zostać zastosowana na konkurencyjnym rynku.
... Additionally, intangible factors, such as brand reputation, social status, and service convenience, play a signi cant role in customer satisfaction, even though the costs of time investment, emotional stress, and visible commitment may be higher (Gopalakrishna et al., 2022). Moreover, customer value can vary among different customer segments, and it's important for marketers to understand what constitutes "good value" for the target customer, considering their unique needs, goals, and expectations (Ansari & Mela 2003;Gupta et al. 2004;Ho et al. 2019). ...
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As the volume of unstructured data on social media continues to grow, it's becoming increasingly important to have a proactive marketing strategy that can extract knowledge from this data. This study explores the use of ChatGPT for detecting causal relations and analyzing significant themes in order to build models for marketing analysis. Using 400 sample reviews and contemporary techniques, a causal graph was synthesized and tested, showing good model fit. All paths in the causal network were found to be significant except for the one from "Customer experience" to "Customer Advocacy." The system identified three serial mediators: "Exceptional hospitality" ➔ "Quality lodging" ➔ "Customer experience" ➔ "Enjoyable time" ➔ "Customer Advocacy," with an effect size of 0.0106. This research highlights the potential of linguistic data for developing mathematical models in marketing research and expands the scope of scientific inquiry in this field.
... They present an opportunity to sell, reinforce contacts, maintain the brand image and access new markets (Godar and O'connor, 2001). In this regard, for many businessto-business (B2B) firms, trade show participation is a key element of their marketing mix, often second only to the cost of the salesforce (Gopalakrishna et al., 2022). As Sarmento and Simões (2018) point out, international trade shows (ITS) can provide great opportunities for Co-creation influence on engagement businesses to build business positions in the international market. ...
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Purpose This paper studies, based on the theory of service-dominant logic, the effect of value co-creation practices (linking and materializing) on engagement dimensions (popularity, commitment and virality). The main objective is to analyze the influence of value co-creation practices on engagement at international trade shows organizer association on Twitter. Design/methodology/approach This paper studies the usage of Twitter by the Specialty Food Association, which organizes one of the top five foods and beverage international trade show in the United States. To achieve the research objective, the authors have analyzed 1,608 posts on Twitter from the Twitter account @Specialty_Food. A content analysis was performed using Krippendorff's (2004) recommendations, and the data were analyzed using regression analysis with optimal scaling and Kruskal–Wallis Test. Findings According to the results, some materializing practices influence popularity, commitment, virality and global engagement on Twitter. While the usage of some linking practices influences respectively commitment and popularity. Originality These results provide valuable information for business-to-business (B2B) contexts and answer a research gap reported in previous literature, which affirms that more research is needed about the relationship between service systems and engagement. From a general view, to generate more engagement on social media in B2B contexts, it is recommended to prioritize posts that incorporate live and online events based on collaborative and dynamic human interactions, following by business ideas and business cases.
... Advertising has become an increasingly important part of B2B marketing (Swani et al., 2020). Expenditures on advertising make up nearly 13.8% of the typical B2B communications budget (Gopalakrishna & Lilien, 2012). 3 Investing in advertising is of direct importance to cloud providers for several reasons. ...
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Moving into cloud computing represents a major marketing shift because it replaces on-premises offerings requiring large, up-front payments with hosted computing resources made available on-demand on a pay-per-use pricing scheme. However, little is known about the effect of this shift on cloud vendors' financial performance. This study draws on a longitudinal data set of 435 publicly listed business-to-business (B2B) firms within the computer software and services industries to investigate, from the vendors' perspective, the shareholder wealth effect of transitioning to the cloud. Using a value relevance model, we find that an unanticipated increase in the cloud ratio (i.e., the share of a firm's revenues from cloud computing) has a positive and significant effect on excess stock returns; and it has a negative and significant effect on idiosyncratic risk. Yet these effects vary across market structures and firms. In particular, unanticipated increases in market maturity intensify the positive effect of moving into the cloud on excess stock returns. Further, unexpected increases in advertising intensity strengthen the negative effect of shifting to the cloud on idiosyncratic risk.
... Given that the company is the actual entity that should create performances through exhibitions, a company's decision to participate in exhibitions is a crucial process, which includes analysis of expected effects against various projected costs (Spence, 2003). Regarding exhibition marketing and performance, prior studies investigate the effectiveness of the marketing aspects, factors of choice, performance factors, and quality of service of exhibitions (Gopalakrishna & Lilien, 2012;Hansen, 2004;Seringhaus & Rosson, 1994;Shoham, 1999). However, the majority of these studies focus on measuring and analyzing the exhibition performance of companies regardless of the support policies of the government. ...
... Currently, visitors are changing their habits towards wanting to spend less time at trade fairs, while at the same time getting more value and experience in return, as trade fairs have similarities with retailing (Gilliam, 2015). A valuable experience in trade fairs offers cognitive stimulation, not only resulting in new knowledge, but also strengthening the exhibitor/visitor relationship (Gopalakrishna & Lilien, 2012). In the current context, exhibitors should adopt a dynamic posture of information transfer, since visitors value innovationdacquiring new knowledge, thus strengthening exhibitorvisitor relationships (Sarmento & Farhangmehr, 2016). ...
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Trade fairs are important sources of information for decision making in marketing management. Currently, trade fairs are places where participants share useful data and information, while creating relationships between customers (visitors) and suppliers (exhibitors). However, only a limited number of studies have focused on the identification of the sources of information that exhibitors can provide for marketing managers at trade fairs. This study examines the importance of the different types of information resources that can be delivered by exhibitors to managers in order to transfer information about product and market trends. Based on the data from a survey of 172 Portuguese executives from different industries, the theoretical hypotheses are tested, using CFA (Confirmatory Factor Analysis). Consistent with our hypotheses, the results show that Direct Marketing techniques, such as face-to-face contacts and product/service demonstrations, are often used by exhibitors. Information in digital formats and demonstration in digital equipment (Digital Marketing) are also used in trade fairs to display information to potential customers. Additionally, the organization of parallel events (Event Marketing) during a trade fair supplements the package of activities developed by exhibitors to transmit and capture information for their companies. These results provide certain support for the importance of trade fairs in view of being a rich source of market information about not only new technological developments of products, but also major strengths and weaknesses of competitors, and future market trends, among other types of information needed for the marketing planning.
Trade show booths are focal points in exhibitors’ trade show marketing, as well as platforms for meeting different target groups, most important new and existing customers. Booth designs thus need to attract trade show attendees’ attention; this study explores which design elements are most effective for doing so. Using eye-tracking technology, it reveals which design elements attract visitors’ visual gaze, using both and comparing a two-dimensional photographic artwork based laboratory study to an actual three-dimensional visual live experience context. The results indicate comparable gaze patterns and relative importance of design elements in both research settings, such that the same design elements attract the most attention in lab and live communication environments. Distraction and sensory overload result in considerably fewer absolute gaze contacts on trade show floors though. Furthermore, the results show that visually outstanding components such as towers, canopies, furniture, or interaction elements compel more attention than wallpaper or screens. This study validates the use of eye-tracking tools in three-dimensional contexts. It also offers managerial recommendations to exhibitors to include visually remarkable elements in their booths and to rely on eye-tracking techniques to evaluate available design options.
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The trade show industry attracts millions of attendees every year, offering enormous opportunities for buyer-seller interactions and potential revenues for exhibitors. Business-to-business firms invest more than 20 % of their marketing budgets on trade shows, with a heavy emphasis on pre- and at-show marketing efforts to generate booth traffic, as well as post-show marketing efforts to close sales leads. However, a comprehensive overview of the impact and effectiveness of trade show marketing efforts on lead generation and sales conversion is missing. Extant models consider only single stages of the buying process and fail to account for heterogeneous marketing effectiveness across customers. This study therefore addresses the incremental effects of pre-, at-, and post-show marketing efforts on short- and long-term outcomes, with customer type as a potential moderator of marketing effectiveness. Attendee-level data from multiple shows attended by a Fortune 500 corporation provide initial empirical evidence of the joint effects of marketing activities during the three different phases. By documenting the impact of various marketing activities across purchase stages and customer types, this study can help managers assess the effectiveness of their trade show marketing activities.
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Though trade shows are an important marketing tool, as evidenced by their frequency of use and expenditure level, little research has examined this activity. The authors document the selling and non-selling roles of trade shows and identify marketing and trade show strategy-related variables that affect performance. Their study is a necessary first step in understanding how trade shows are used and identifying factors that should be considered in the management of this promotion medium.
The authors report on the effects of a trade show on incremental sales and profits for a manufacturer of gas chromatographic equipment. Their analysis indicates that the show provided positive economic returns to the firm. They also provide evidence that the show had positive effects on generating product awareness and interest. Although their research studies a single firm and the effect of a single show, the authors’ results indicate that, under carefully controlled conditions, the returns from trade show investments can indeed be measured and quantified and that extensions of their approach may have broad applicability.
Trade shows are a multibillion-dollar business in the United States and the United Kingdom, but little is known about the determinants of trade show effectiveness. The authors build a model that captures differences in trade show effectiveness across industries, companies, and two countries. They focus on the differences in trade show effectiveness measured in a similar way across similar samples of 221 U.S. and 135 UK firm-show experiences between 1982 and 1993. Although the variables explain different amounts of variance in these two countries and some variables tend to have different relative effects, the similarities outweigh the differences. The authors are able to generalize about the effect of various show selection (go/not go) variables as well as tactical variables (e.g., booth size, personnel) on observed performance. They conclude by discussing the implications of their research for developing benchmarks for trade show performance.
We examine three sets of established behavioral hypotheses about consumers' in-store behavior using field data on grocery store shopping paths and purchases. Our results provide field evidence for the following empirical regularities. First, as consumers spend more time in the store, they become more purposeful—they are less likely to spend time on exploration and more likely to shop/buy. Second, consistent with “licensing” behavior, after purchasing virtue categories, consumers are more likely to shop at locations that carry vice categories. Third, the presence of other shoppers attracts consumers toward a store zone but reduces consumers' tendency to shop there.
We examine grocery shopping paths using the traveling salesman problem (TSP) as a normative frame of reference. We define the TSP-path for each shopper as the shortest path that connects all of his purchases. We then decompose the length of each observed path into three components: the length of the TSP-path, the additional distance because of (i.e., not following the TSP-order of category purchases), and the additional distance because of (i.e., not following the shortest point-to-point route). We explore the relationship between these deviations and different aspects of in-store shopping/purchase behavior. Among other things, our results suggest that (1) a large proportion of trip length is because of travel deviation; (2) paths that deviate substantially from the TSP solution are associated with larger shopping baskets; (3) order deviation is strongly associated with purchase behavior, while travel deviation is not; and (4) shoppers with paths closer to the TSP solution tend to buy more from frequently purchased product categories.
The exhorbitant cost of exhibiting has made it imperative that specific exhibit objectives be set and their effectiveness evaluated in order to determine return-on-investment. Cavanaugh outlines six management objectives and indicates guidelines for "show audit" evaluations.
One of the most important promotional media for most sellers of industrial products is the trade show. The author provides a framework and an easy-to-follow procedure for trade show evaluation which can be used by marketers in even very small companies.