Best of 2012: Trade Shows are Top Marketing Cost for B2B

Virtual trade shows appeared to be poised to take over a bigger portion of the B2B marketing budget. In the past 2 years, B2B operators were looking for ways to cut costs and virtual shows certainly helped to keep the budget in line. But a new study points to a healthy return in expositions as B2B marketers apparently believe that some face-​to-​face marketing makes a big difference in generating sales.

The new Insights on Trends in Marketing Spend on Business-​to-​Business Exhibitions report published by the Center for Exhibition Research reveals that B2B enterprises spent 39.2% of their marketing budgets on trade shows. This percentage is down slightly from the previous year but up markedly since the start of the recession. However, the average amount spent on individual trade shows has dropped. In 2011, the amount was $17,708, a 4.3% drop from the 2009 level of $18,500. In addition, marketers say they spend money most trade show money on booth space and set up and furnishings. About 6% of the budget goes to on-​site promotional materials and another 5% for on-​site sponsorship. Participants in this study all had revenues exceeding $10 million and had exhibited with at least one trade show during the past 2 years.

This group of business owners spends marketing budgets as follows:

  • Exhibitions/​shows 39.2%
  • Trade publications 10.5%
  • Online trade publications 7.6%
  • General online marketing 7.0%
  • General event sponsorship 6.1%

Trade show organizers can boost their B2B business by marketing both regional and national events as “must attend.” They’ll also be seeking out new industry associations that have growth potential and help them develop and market up-​and-​coming shows.

[Source: Barney, Lee. Expos Command 40% of Budget. Expoweb​.com. 9 Feb. 2012. Web. 22 Feb. 2012] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.