B2B Exhibition Attendees Seek Engagement with Product Technical Experts – How Does Your Exhibit Booth Fare in Meeting This Need?

B2B Exhibition Attendees Seek Engagement with Product Technical Experts – How Does Your Exhibit Booth Fare in Meeting This Need?

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC; Dr. Christophe Haon, Marketing Professor, Grenoble Ecole de Management; Dr. Trina Sego, Marketing Professor, University of Waikato, New Zealand; Dr. Shikhar Sarin, Marketing Professor, University of Waikato

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, brand marketers have an opportunity to reflect on their exhibiting approaches, how they can be enhanced to maximize the value of these investments in preparation for when face-to-face marketing resumes. One area of critical importance to successfully exhibit is having the right staff in a booth.

CEIR research consistently documents, most recently in the Attendee ROI report series, that business professionals place high value on the information they glean from attending business-to-business (B2B) exhibitions in supporting their business information and purchasing decision needs. Most attendees come to achieve both shopping and learning objectives. As well, learning is found to be nourished, supported not only by attending education sessions at an event, but also via the face-to-face engagement, interactions they enjoy with peers, industry experts and staff in exhibit booths.

And so, this raises a central question for exhibitors to consider, “Do you have the right staff in the booth?” In the CEIR report,  The Role and Value of Face-to-Face Interaction Study, Exhibition Staff Practice Summaries, it is documented that there is a gap between who typically staffs a booth and who attendees want to see. In a later study, 2017 Attendee Floor Engagement Study, this gap is found to continue to persist.

People to People Engagement

In the recently published academic article in Industrial Marketing Management, Disconnect in trade show staffing: A comparison of exhibitor emphasis and attendee preferences, this gap, as documented in the Role and Value of Face-to-Face Interaction Study is analyzed extensively, affirming its authenticity, profiles of attendees where the gaps are the greatest, and where it is most apparent by type of event. The article also discusses lost opportunities given these unmet needs.  As well, it raises questions on whether brand marketers are systematically ignoring invaluable feedback from customers and prospects that could lead to product innovations and enhancements.

This article is of relevance to practitioners, exhibitors and organizers, and academics. For the academic community, CEIR encourages reviewing this article and consider undertaking future research opportunities it delineates.

To reach the professors who undertook the analyses that resulted in this academic article, go to the following link: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0019850116302036?via%3Dihub

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