5 MIN. READ
Trade shows and live events are tremendous opportunities for marketers to learn more about industry providers. Unfortunately, the pandemic triggered the cancellation of live events, hitting the trade show industry hard. Many trade shows innovated by creating virtual events for attendees.
So how essential is it for companies to get back on the trade show circuit and which are the best manufacturing shows to attend?
For starters, not only are key personnel from large enterprises presenting, but you can actually see the products and services different companies offer firsthand. For marketing and sales professionals, this level of immersion allows you to speak with authority when working with these companies.
Trade shows are also perhaps the most effective way for marketers to get their foot in the door with industry representatives. Since trade shows are usually attended by a majority, if not all, of a company's senior and C-level staff, finding the right people is quite literally a walk in the park (or in this case, a walk on the showroom floor).
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It's not a one-sided relationship, either. There's a reason company executives and senior officers attend trade shows so regularly. Brands need to get their products or services in front of marketers to succeed. For brands that make a standout appearance at a trade show, the return on investment in contacts made and contracts negotiated is sizable. The fact that both marketers and businesses are so invested in the success of their trade show appearances makes these shows the go-to location for good firms and marketers to outpace the competition.
If you would like to benefit from face-to-face meetings and extensive education on the industry, consider the following can't-miss events.
Date: Multiple dates/locations in Spring and Fall of 2023
Featuring 300 service categories, the Design-2-Part Show is America’s longest running and most trusted events for sourcing custom parts and services. For over 40 years, the Design-2-Part shows have provided job shops and contract manufacturers the opportunity to meet in-person with OEM engineers and buyers. In 2022, Design-2-Part shows are upcoming in:
• Texas: Arlington TX March 1&2
• Southeast: Atlanta, GA March 29 &30
• Greater New York: Secaucus, NJ April 26 & 27
• Florida: Orlando, FL May 2 & 3
• Greater Chicago: Schaumburg, IL May 17&18
• Greater Detroit: Novi, MI June 14 & 15
• So. Cal: Ontario, CA Sept 13 & 14
• New England: Marlborough, Mass Sept 27 & 28
• Midwest: Indianapolis, IN Oct 18 & 19
• Southeast: Raleigh, NC Nov 1 & 2
• Mid-Atlantic: Oaks, PA Nov 8 & 9
See here for details.
Date: March 27-30, 2023
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
If you're invested in the communications industry, this trade show is for you. From revolutionary developments in 5G technology to communications devices that look like they were stolen from the set of Star Trek, this show is one of the best places to mingle with the best minds the wireless communications industry has to offer.
Date: October 17-19, 2023
Location: Las Vegas, NV
The National Business Aviation Association's convention is one of the premier trade shows for the aerospace and aviation industry.
This convention is dedicated to exploring and promoting the interests of business-related aerospace manufacturers and organizations. Whether you aim to do business in the aerospace industry internationally or locally, this is one trade show you shouldn't miss.
Date: October 31 – Nov 3, 2023
Location: Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada
If your niche is in the premium auto parts market, you'll want to attend this one. Averaging over 100,000 attendees and 2,000 exhibitors, the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association is a seminal event for premium auto parts manufacturers and marketers.
The sheer size and scope of this event make it well worth a visit for any marketer focused on specialty auto parts or cars.
Date: September 11-14, 2023
Location: McCormick Place, Chicago, IL
If there's one trade show on this list that's a must-visit for marketers regardless of the industry they target, it's FABTECH.
FABTECH covers the metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing industries. The event averages more than 1,900 exhibitors and 48,000 attendees per year, making it one of the largest trade shows for the fabrication industry.
FABTECH is dedicated to showcasing cutting-edge advancement in fabrication technology from all the most prominent industry players, as well as scrappy start-ups and medium-sized enterprises. As part of this focus, it regularly features presentations on the most significant advancements in fabrication technology.
The wealth of exhibitors at FABTECH and the presentations the event offers make it uniquely valuable to marketers. Not only can you make vital connections with company executives and senior officers, but you can also leave the event completely up to date on the latest in fabrication technology. You can't ask for much more from a trade show than that
Date: September 11-13, 2023
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Held in Las Vegas, PACK EXPO showcases the world of packaging and processing. The show features full scale machinery and highlights the latest advancements in packaging and processing. Attendees can expect educational sessions and discussions on several topics, ranging from containers, printing, processing, materials, and more.
San Antonio Manufacturers Association Trade Show
Date: May 10th, 2023
Location: San Antonio, TX
Looking to make things bigger in Texas? Add the SAMA Trade Show to your list and enjoy panel discussions, breakout sessions, and conference talks. Featuring in-person presentations from top industry leaders, this is a great avenue to learn more about manufacturing in Texas and meet many new faces.
Date: May 6-10, 2024
Location: Orlando, Florida
This trade show is a ways off, but it's essential to have it on your radar. The International Plastics Showcase is perhaps the only trade show where you can find all the biggest movers and shakers in the international plastics industry in a single location.
For marketers invested in the plastics industry, this is simply a show that you can't afford to miss - so start planning to attend.
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Editor's note: This article was originally published in October 2019. It is updated annually to reflect new dates and trade show information.