Trade shows have played a prominent role in the corporate communication mix for many years. Enterprises use these multifunctional communication platforms to pursue a wide variety of objectives. The purpose of this paper is to, on the one hand, to examine the extent to which trade shows are suitable as an instrument of live communication to meet specific communication objectives during the customer relationship cycle. On the other hand, it examines the way in which these objectives interrelate with each other.
Telephone surveys of around 400 marketing decision‐makers have been conducted every year since 2004. For analysing the data, bi‐variate longitudinal comparisons with t‐tests on significance were used as well as a correlation analysis with Spearman's Rho.
The results indicate that trade shows are suitable primarily as an instrument to nurture confidence in brands and to sustain customer loyalty, but less as an instrument to increase awareness levels. To improve the effectiveness of trade shows, complementary objectives should be targeted simultaneously.
The results can help marketing managers and exhibitors to combine all customer channels efficiently and fine‐tune the allocation of marketing resources in order to optimise “customer transfer” through every phase in the customer relationship cycle.
Though trade shows are widely acknowledged to be a valid multifunctional communication platform to pursue a wide variety of objectives, this paper is the first one to theoretically and practically address and analyse possible relationships which might occur between multiple communication objectives.
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