It’s 2024! Don’t Rely On Just Tradeshows and Conferences

December 14, 2023

Tradeshows and conferences have been around for a long time. At least since 3000 BCE, according to Trade Shows News Network (and they should know).

It’s for good reason. They allow businesses to travel to new territories, rub elbows, show off their latest products, and get a bunch of t-shirts and tote bags they don’t need.

As a digital marketing agency that works with manufacturing, construction, engineering, and professional services — we understand how certain industries, especially the construction and manufacturing sectors, rely heavily on tradeshows and conferences.

While tradeshows and conferences are a valuable part of your marketing promotional mix, you need to start thinking less traditionally and embrace digital marketing to maximize your reach. It’s 2024, baby!

The Current State of Traditional and Digital Marketing

Since COVID-19, tradeshows have been seemingly on a downward trend. There is good news for tradeshow fans, though. According to Statista, the number of trade shows B2B professionals exhibited in the U.S. in 2023 was at its highest since 2015.

However, TradeXPO shows tradeshow attendance is still 20% below pre-pandemic levels. Whether your favorite tradeshows are bouncing back seems to depend on the industry.

According to the same article, shows for industries like Fashion and Agriculture are on an upward swing, with a 67% and 30% increase compared to pre-pandemic numbers.

Unfortunately, one of our favorite industries — Construction, is showing a 64% decrease in attendance. Not to mention, the biggest tradeshow states are all struggling to meet the same attendance numbers they did before the pandemic. Nevada is down 48%, Florida 36%, and California 26%.

So, while there are signs that things are bouncing back — 2023 seems to be better for attendance than 2022, there are also signs that tradeshows won’t hit their pre-pandemic levels for a little while longer.

This allows industries like construction to fill the gap with digital marketing. Even if and when traditional tradeshows and conferences make a full comeback, digital marketing can provide a valuable way to expand your reach beyond a given region, improve your brand equity, and even give you new ways to reach current customers or prospects.

The Case for Digital Marketing

Think of it this way— while the tradeshow industry is valued at $21 billion and has declined in the past five years, the digital advertising and marketing market was valued at an estimated $223 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow to over $376 billion by 2030. There’s a reason so many companies are investing so much of their resources into this industry — it works!

When we talk about marketing, you first need to consider who you’re marketing to, a.k.a; your audience.

In 2024, Millennials, raised on MySpace and PlayStation Network, comprise the largest workforce. According to the University of Southern California, 82% of Millennials interact with brands or retailers online, compared to just 65% of Baby Boomers and Gen X, and 38% of Millennials discover brands online compared to 26% of other generations.

For companies that want to appeal to the largest generation in the workforce, they need to meet millennials online — in addition to traditional marketing.

Digital marketing is also an effective way to reach Gen X, who are now taking upper management or leadership positions. They use social media and email and will research a company online before doing business.

If you’re relying strictly on trade shows, conferences, and other traditional marketing methods, you’re missing out on an opportunity to build meaningful relationships with the largest section of the workforce in the United States — including the demographic making meaningful purchasing decisions.

If you’re still hesitant to embrace digital marketing, just think of the internet as the world’s largest tradeshow, where the majority of your desired audience is. Your digital presence is your booth, which can be customized to appeal to every attendee. Sounds pretty good, right?

How to Get Started in Digital Marketing

Digital marketing can help your business expand in new ways and complement your traditional marketing methods.

If you’re in a business that relies on tradeshows, digital marketing can help inform your current customers or leads you’ll be attending via email marketing or social media. This can help build excitement around new products or services you’ll be showcasing, drumming up demand and helping attendees start their research into your company or product earlier in the sales cycle.

Of course, digital marketing goes far beyond just supporting traditional marketing, it can be a self-sustaining engine that generates new business and makes your current business loyal.

Last year, the team at Hivehouse put our heads together and gave some advice to companies that were beginning their first foray into digital marketing. You can read the full blog, How to Take Your First Step into B2B Digital Marketing, here, but below are the cliff notes.

Understand Your Audience

We already mentioned this, but marketing boils down to the problems you’re solving and who is the group of people with those problems. From there, you can begin to build the foundation of your marketing.

Set SMART Goals

There are a lot of paths to begin digital marketing, and understanding what success means to your company will go a long way toward preventing you from taking the wrong route.

Know Your Company, Competition, and Brand

Understanding what your company is capable of, how that fits into the marketplace, and how to develop the message that connects your company’s products or services to potential and current customers is a complex ecosystem that requires research, strategy, and creativity.

Build a Digital Presence

Once you’ve established the prerequisites, you’ll be able to begin building your digital presence with a measured and thoughtful approach rather than spraying and praying.

More Resources

Beyond reading the above article, here are other resources to help you begin your digital marketing journey.

Hivehouse Digital Can Help

Our specialty is helping businesses get started in the digital marketing world. Whether you need help figuring out where even to get started or help executing content marketing, email marketing, websites, branding, and marketing strategy — our team is more than happy to sit down and talk about where your business is and where you’d like to see it go (outside of more trade shows and conferences).

Still Looking For Answers? We Can Help!