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by Gillian
on June 1, 2015


For many industries, regular trade shows are considered an essential piece of an effective marketing strategy. If you don't attend the biggest and best trade shows in your industry it is easy to feel like you're missing out on the best possible opportunity to generate high-quality leads.

While it's true that a trade show marketing plan can generate leads, the fact is that inbound marketing is better. Without a doubt, the right inbound marketing strategy can generate more leads, more effectively and more reliably that the very best trade show. Here are six reasons why inbound marketing is better than your best trade show:


1. It's Cost Effective

Every marketing team has a budget and you want to be able to make the most of the dollars you have. Trade shows can generate leads and, in turn, generate revenue, but those leads generally come at an exceptionally high cost. To execute a big trade show marketing plan, you can end up spending thousands of dollars on the booth alone. Add the cost of travel, accommodations, and incidentals and you are talking about a major percentage of your marketing budget.

Inbound marketing requires an initial investment in web design and development as well as persona research and content creation, but overall the cost per lead for inbound marketing is exceptionally low. Even if it takes five blog posts to generate one lead, that lead is still going to cost much less than a trip to a trade show.

2. It's Time Efficient

Time is money and every minute that your top marketers or salespeople are away at a trade show is a minute they are not keeping up with their regular tasks. For out of town events, this can mean up to an entire week that your trade show presenters are all but unreachable. Inbound marketing keeps your team in the office and on task. Not to mention, in the time it takes to prepare for and execute an excellent trade show booth, you could easily create a mountain of blog posts, marketing offers, emails, and landing pages. Inbound marketing is simply more efficient and lets you spend less time overall focused on leads and more time focused on growing your business.

3. It's Automated

Inbound marketing is not completely automated, of course, but the marketing automation tools on HubSpot can be a major time saver. Trade show lead generation often means many phone calls and personalized emails to make sure your leads remember you and keep you top of mind. With inbound marketing, you can set up automated workflows that keep leads interested while also continuing to provide  useful content to them, not only keeping your brand top of mind but also building a trusting and positive relationship with those leads.

Even if you continue to exhibit at trade shows, you can and should still take advantage of these marketing automation tools.

4. It's Sustainable

No matter how great your best trade show appearance is, it only lasts a few days and you have to repeat it at least once a year to continue generating results. With inbound marketing, you could write a blog post or an eBook that can generate leads for years. The ROI for inbound marketing is staggering in this way.

5. It's Happening All the Time

Visiting a trade show requires showing up at a specific time and a specific place, putting up physical displays, shaking hands, and trying your best to close a deal on the show floor.

Inbound marketing requires a website that is easy to navigate, a regularly updated blog, and great, valuable content. The difference is that once you start to generate all the things required for a proper inbound marketing strategy, your content starts to generate leads for itself. No matter where you are or what you are doing, your content is out there, attracting leads to your site and helping your business grow.

6. It's Modern

Finally, the sad truth about trade shows is that they are somewhat outdated. Before television and the internet, setting up a booth to sell something was one of the most effective ways to generate sales. But today a trade show marketing plan is not only expensive and time consuming, it's just a little bit old. If you want your leads and customers to know that you are a company on the leading edge, ready to innovate, you need to have that mentality in everything you do. Inbound marketing utilizes a variety of advanced avenues - from your website to email - to generate the best leads possible. It may no longer be considered new, but it is certainly modern, innovative, and adaptable to new technologies.




We can't say that a trade show won't add value to your company. Talking to your potential customers face-to-face can still have an impact. But inbound marketing is ultimately more effective. If you have the time, energy, and budget, it can be most effective to combine your trade show visits with an inbound marketing strategy. For more information on how to make the most of a trade show, be sure to download our free eBook.