How Important is Exhibiting?

In our most recent Trends in HR Marketing research report, HR Buyers’ Behavior 2007 we surveyed several thousand human resource professionals on their purchasing behavior of HR products and services.

You can download the entire report (free) by visiting the above link. In this blog posting, we will talk about one section of the report relating to trade show exhibiting. In our research we discovered that:
HR events have always presented a conundrum for HR suppliers. Logic dictates that if you don’t exhibit at key industry events, HR buyers may view you as less credible. If you do exhibit, you may find it difficult to quantify any ROI. Or maybe this year, you’ll score heaps of great leads! So should you exhibit or not?

In our experience, regardless of the type of HR product or service you market, HR suppliers should attend at least one or two key events per year in order to maintain an industry presence and credibility. At, we exhibit at about three events per year and attend many others. We also highly recommend that senior marketing and/or company executives attend HR events. While sales professionals, not marketing, should always staff the exhibit (this is a sales function, not a marketing function), marketing executives should attend HR events in order to talk to buyers and understand their pain points, study competitors, and attend sessions to keep current with the discourse of the industry.

However, when deciding how to allocate your marketing and PR budget, realize that a relatively small percentage of HR buyers attend any given trade show – and even fewer will come into contact with you at the event. So, if your annual marketing budget is $100,000, think twice before spending $20,000 (exhibit space, travel, food, hotel, shipping, promotions, etc.) on an event where you may reach 50 qualified buyers (cost of $400 per qualified lead). You may be better served by investing in a few white paper download campaigns that include some search-optimized press releases and a direct e-mail marketing campaign or a webcast - which will likely generate hundreds of leads.

We recommend that HR vendors spend no more than 10% of their marketing budget on trade shows, because investments beyond this level usually do not pencil out.

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