Monday, February 22, 2010

BUDGETING FOR TRADE SHOWS! ARE THEY WORTH IT? IS THERE AN ALTERNATIVE?

At a recent BenefitPlace meeting with our affiliates that included: Vesta WorksiteVesta p&c, and Vesta h&l, we discussed our annual budgets - looking back and forward!  A primary topic was attending Trade Shows!


When added together, we isolated 24 shows that seemed worthy of attending - or possibly becoming an exhibitor.  The question then became "How to best utilize limited time and dollars for the maximum return?"  Other questions were: "Are they really worth it?" and "What is the ROI?"


One affiliate produced an article by Julia O'Connor, president of TradeShowplanning.com, that estimated the cost of attending a trade show - four days and three nights - to be over $4,000.  The amount did not include entertaining, staff replacements or out-of-pocket expenses.  D&B's - Small Business Solutions estimates Exhibitor Costs to be about $10,000.


We all agreed that participation in some Trade Shows is valuable and integral to learning about new programs, products and services, maintaining relationships, and establishing new contacts.  We also agreed with Ms. O'Connor that, "It's somebody's responsibility to take trade shows seriously".  I must admit that I am as guilty as many - I attend, spend time seeing old friends, collect business cards, and generally fail to follow-up.  The business cards end up neatly stacked or efficiently downloaded into prospect files.


For the above reasons, we at BenefitPlace have been investigating the value of Virtual Trade Shows for over a year.  The technology for these events has been dramatically improving in capacity and reducing in cost for the sponsoring group, the exhibitors and attendees.  While a shift to a virtual marketplace will never replace the advantages of personal contact of traditional Trade Shows, the efficiencies and cost-savings of presenting programs, products, and services "online" on a 24/7/365 basis is intriguing. 


While we did decide to continue participating in some of the 24 shows, we also agreed to further investigate the opportunities and potentials offered by the emerging Virtual Trade Show technologies.  A suggestion from one of our affiliates was to have BenefitPlace and/or each of the Vesta Cos. "Joint Venture" with existing industry related traditional Trade Show sponsors to broaden and extend their reach while creating affordability for a greater number of interested parties!


We found this a little strange, the Virtual Trade Show Industry had their Virtual Edge Summit 2010  in Santa Clara, CA. from Feb. 22-23.  I guess they are not ready to go virtual! 


NOTE:  We have created the "Insurance Forum" on Linkedin.  Join on the Linkedin site or contact us for information - 216.921.1583 or max@benefitplace.biz! 


We, and our community, would appreciate your input on this topic.  Have a Great Week!      





       

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