SEO vs. Tradeshows: Pros and Cons

Let’s dive into what SEO and trade shows offer to your business, both benefits and disadvantages. We give you firsthand information about trade show marketing based on our experience and share with you SEO insights based on our expertise.

Roger: Welcome to Local SEO Today. I’m Roger Murphy.

John: And I’m John Vuong.

Roger: We want to welcome you to our podcast today, talking to business owners in really every type of industry because we want to talk about Search Engine Optimization and we want to talk about it as it relates to or compares or contrast to trade shows and John, I know we’re going to talk about trade shows in a minute here. You’ve done them, I’ve done them, we’ve done them but there are pros and cons to everything but we’re going to talk about trade shows today.

John: Yeah, trade shows are…you know, traditionally a great way to get in front of your prospective buyers, right? People would fly and travel from all parts of the world to meet with you, right? As a vendor or a supplier or a new product or whatever it may be, right? So you’ve got a lot of active engaged prospects and that’s the whole point of being a part of a trade show that is very industry specific.

John: That’s right. It’s almost like being part of a community and you and I John, we’ve done different verticals and because we’re Search Optimization, we’re a boutique ad marketing agency we help all different types of verticals but we’ve been into you know, we’ve been to the dental association meetings where there’s been 15,000 people attending, we’ve been to plumbing associations, we’ve been to pest control. We do lots of different industries but I will say that it’s I’m not saying a disappointment but trade shows really do not provide the response. Doesn’t …they don’t provide the return on your investment the way Search Engine Optimization does and I’m gonna say it from and there’s lots of benefit to trade show but the truth is SEO is being found for a particular key phrase that have ready to buy, active buyers looking for on the internet on google at any particular time. When you’re talking about trade shows John, where you’re talking about staffing, you’re talking about building the booth. Many booths are easy. It’s so hard to get away for less than five to ten thousand and the sky’s the limit. You go to some of these trade shows of the car you know, car manufacturers John, you’re a quarter million dollars. A million dollars for a booth and I know that’s at one other end of the scale but if you’re talking about the costs involved you really want to question, “Boy, oh boy. Where can we efficiently use our marketing dollars to get in front of those buying, the buying public?”

John: Exactly and you hit it right in the nail because um those people that are going to the trade show are they serious, are they in it for the right reason, why…what’s the purpose of them going to that show, are they ready to buy at that time or the informational gathering? Is it two three five years down the line, are they just starting a business? You don’t know where they are in that journey, right?

Roger: Exactly.

John: But you’ve invested so much time and effort for you to get a prime location, you gotta spend a lot of money setting it up, making it look beautiful, have signage, man the booth, fly in from all parts of the world to actually reside there so then you gotta pay for rent, like hotel, then you got a food…

Roger: Cabs, ubers. “Oh my god it just…it goes on.” So there’s the hard costs and then the soft cost and I don’t think John we’ve ever gotten away for anything less than truthfully six thousand dollars and that is that’s on the low end. I know industries where to buy your booth is 15…20000 and then a quarter million dollars for some of them then they have to be stored. That’s the other thing too after a trade show. They have to be put back into crates and then taken away and you’re paying storage fees every you know, every month till the next show so at the end of the day here’s a frustrating thing with trade shows even though, yes everyone in your industry is there and you’re like the energy’s up and it’s like, “Ah, this is great. Got another great show. Good to see you Joe. I haven’t seen you in a year.” You know, other vendors people go and they attend and they exhibit because the competition’s there and that’s not the necessarily the right reason to go but they feel I should go because everyone else is there and what happens and we’ve seen the last two shows we went to John, all the people you want to meet and greet they’re in their own meetings and training sessions. So overall over a two or three day period you have maybe three hours facetime and everything else they’re already, they’re in these other …they’re getting they’re having, doing course professional development speakers and where we were on the floor waiting for them to come out have a coffee break so we could have a chance to talk to them. How frustrating is that as a trade show you know, you’re as the owner of a business paying for all these costs and the people you want to be in front of they’re not even there.

John: Exactly so that whole industry is transforming during this pandemic, right? Yep, there’s not a lot of live trade shows going on today and maybe businesses are changing their ways or reallocating their budget, marketing budgets because ultimately you as a business owner and usually these are B2B type of business owners, right…that are in trade shows. It’s great you’re in the industry, you’re very specific, you have all these c level owners that are active buyers that you think are gonna go there and you’re gonna be bombarded with all these people that are actively buying but then you think about it you have to be positioned well, you have to have great signage, you have to lure them into your booth for you to have an opportunity to speak to them, right? Because there’s 500 other vendors doing the exact same thing, right? So what are…what’s your call to action, how do you grab, get them to come to you? We gave away ipads, watches, right? Watches or whatever we were giving things away just to lure people in and it was not as effective like everything we’ve done was industry that was the best thing they advised us to do and it didn’t work.

Roger: And it seems like trade shows the idea of going because you always did it. I think that it’s built into your marketing budgets you kind of go, really so we spent five thousand, eight thousand, twenty five thousand, a quarter million dollars at this. Is there a more productive way to get in front of the buying public and I have to say if you know and we know that 90 some… 95 percent of us use google and well over 90 some percent of us use or only go to page one. You have a prime, you’ve got a vehicle that can put you and if you do it properly can put you in front of the buying public at the moment they’re ready to make a purchase or get serious about getting a quote so SEO works all year long ready to go whenever someone’s ready to buy so it just makes so much sense and I do get it the trade shows. “Ah, you know we get to travel. I love to go to the big city and then we go for dinners and we have drinks and my suppliers take me for dinner and stuff.” You know?

Yeah, I get it but it is hugely inefficient when it comes to time spent versus the return on your investment.

John: And I think that’s ultimately what it’s about, right? As a business owner how much can I spend to get the best return on your investment, right? And how much is my time worth, right? Because that one time fee that you’re paying to do the trade show, build it, fly there, be manning it, give away content and it’s tiring, right? It’s exhausting standing an entire day talking to a lot of people that you don’t even know what’s gonna happen once they leave, right? And then you’re like that one time, one weekend, one week whatever it was. After that week goes by after the month there goes the opportunity. You’re never gonna hear from them again and it’s like in magazine ad or it’s a radio ad or it’s a flyer. Once you deliver it if they’re not ready at that time…a purchase they’re not going to want to remember you.

Roger: That’s it. It was lost opportunity. Yeah, it’s so true.

John: And you’ve invested so much money, right?

Roger: That’s it so at the end of the day if you’ve got a sales team, would the sales team love to get inbound leads, quality leads coming in on a regular basis because of someone finding them on google year round versus well we went to the show and yeah, I know…I collected 100 business cards. I’m gonna follow up with these guys. A sales rep, the best sales reps stay at companies where they get leads coming in and they can convert these buyers into clients so by doing quality SEO you’re actually helping your sales team to be more efficient as well.

John: Exactly and you’re building authority as an industry leader, right? There’s more long-term you know, benefit from it versus short-term ad spend, right? Because you actively have to be proactive. This is waiting for inbound leads are your ideal type of clients.

Roger: And I want to say that trade shows have a purpose just as radio or television or different other medias. They have a purpose but that purpose might very well John, be more brand awareness today versus actually finding ready to buy customers with the ultimate…that’s the ultimate what any business wants. Branding is important as well. Yes but the linchpin of everyone’s marketing efforts should be… it has to be where you get the most return on your investment. It’s nice to do a trade show but it’s imperative to do Search Optimization.

John: Exactly, well thanks a lot Roger that was a great episode.

Roger: John, thank you to the listeners and thank you John for your time. Please subscribe to the podcast we try and bring valuable information to the marketplace on a regular basis so you’ll see us and you’ll hear from us on a regular basis but John, you brought some great ideas forward today. Thank you for your time and we’ll see everyone again on Local SEO Today.

John: Thank you.

Roger: Thank you