The Value of Tradeshows… As I Head to drupa!

Barb Pellow
May 27, 2016

drupa is the largest printing equipment and supplies manufacturer exhibition in the world. This year’s event will feature over 1,800 exhibitors and a projected 300,000 visitors (40%+ German, 8% Indian, 7% Belgian, 7% French, 6% Dutch, 5% British, and <5% North American), all in the span of 11 days (May 31 – June 10, 2016). Our industry has changed dramatically since The Great Recession, but marketers and business executives continue to watch their pennies and scrutinize every decision while exploring new and different ways to do business in today’s economy. As drupa looms, business owners, decision-makers, and participants alike may question the value of exhibiting at and attending trade events when information is so readily available on personal computers and mobile devices.

Why Exhibit at drupa?

Although some might dispute this, tradeshows are generally a good investment in terms of time and money. The vendors that participate in these events consistently experience a number of key benefits. From a vendor perspective, the hope is that drupa will yield:

  • Significant interactions with new buyers and decision-makers. Events like drupa provide the opportunity for buyers and sellers to interact with one another. The people who attend tradeshows tend to be motivated and interested in the products and services that exhibitors are offering. In some cases, attendees will end up purchasing equipment and/or software on the spot. Attendees can also use shows like drupa to stay up-to-date on the latest industry developments, ranging from the latest innovations in inkjet to the newest workflow solutions.
  • A reduced cost per sale. Because tradeshows by their nature will attract multiple buyers that attendees can interact with, businesses can achieve a lower cost per sale in relation to a situation where a sales rep will work with prospects on a one-on-one basis.
  • The ability to pin down hard-to-reach prospects. Some business professionals see direct marketing as an unwanted intrusion on their professional lives. Others are annoyed by sales calls in general, regardless of the value they might deliver. People typically attend tradeshows with a different mindset. They fully expect to interact with salespeople and learn about their offerings, so they may be more amenable to making purchasing decisions if the solution is compelling enough.
  • Great publicity. Major tradeshows are typically jammed with industry analysts and journalists from around the world, and this is particularly the case for international events like drupa. These analysts and journalists will write for a number of publications, so interacting with them can be a great way for suppliers to get their messaging to the masses in the form of reports, press releases, and a variety of other industry publications.
  • Industry intelligence. Tradeshows can be a great way to learn about the direction that various industries might be going in, as well as the paths that will likely turn out to be dead ends. During these events, it’s important for vendors to take advantage of the slow times in their own booths. These lulls in action can be a great opportunity to walk the floor and go on a fact-finding mission. As you explore the show floor, ask yourself—what are your competitors doing right and what should they be doing differently? By observing the booths of your competitors and examining their products, you can obtain a greater understanding of their position in the market. Armed with this information, you can develop techniques and strategies for meeting your customers’ needs more effectively than your competitors.
  • The ability to form and build partnerships. drupa is a great place for vendors to meet like- minded individuals and evaluate equipment, software, and services. Once you understand what others have to offer, you’ll be in a better position to explore partnerships that can fill any gaps in your current portfolio.
  • New product concept testing. Tradeshows provide an opportunity for exhibiting companies to introduce new products to the market. These events are also a great time to test the concepts of products for which the sales potential is still being established, because vendors can receive instant feedback from attendees who see their products on the show floor.

Why Attend drupa?

For attendees, one of the biggest benefits of an event like drupa is the ability to meet with a large number of highly knowledgeable individuals in a single location. If you’re attending drupa, it’s important to head in with a plan. Schedule appointments in advance so you don’t waste too much time browsing or only speaking with people you already know. When attending drupa, your focus should be on your own business. Take time to learn about the solutions and strategies that can help you drive profitability. As is the case for vendors, tradeshows an also offer a number of benefits to attendees:

  • An easy way to comparison-shop. Vendors are competing for your business at drupa, so use this to your advantage! You have a great opportunity to evaluate products, compare products, and develop a better understanding of effective go-to-market approaches.
  • Education on industry trends. A tradeshow may be the single best place to collect data about your industry. Where else can you find such an eclectic blend of chatty salespeople, knowledgeable exhibitors, industry insiders, and high-level executive speakers? Those who attend drupa will likely uncover a number of exciting opportunities in the form of presentations at booth locations as well as educational sessions conducted by industry-leading experts.
  • A greater confidence in the decisions you are making. Tradeshows often enable attendees to make more confident decisions. At events like drupa, products can be seen, touched, and experienced in real-time. What’s more, networking with others in your industry can help you learn about critical success factors related to implementation.
  • An opportunity to expand your network. During drupa, attendees should make the time to attend any relevant events that are running alongside the show. Speeches, workshops, seminars, and panel discussions can be another great source of information. They also provide a means of establishing valuable business contacts and networking with suppliers and peers alike.

The Bottom Line

Although some will always question the value of tradeshows, I’m really looking forward to attending drupa 2016. I know that it will be a unique opportunity build new relationships, see new products and services, and interact with my peers. The vendors in attendance will hopefully leverage the opportunity to further educate the market, sell more products and solutions, and provide insight that will help make our industry more vibrant and profitable. On the other side of the coin, attendees should take advantage of this focused climate. A number of knowledgeable suppliers will be on hand, and numerous educational and networking programs can help attendees increase their expertise. drupa promises to bring together a wide variety of exhibitors, salespeople, analysts, journalists, and other attendees. All of these individuals can share their experiences with one another to further benefit the printing industry.

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