As another conference season ends, I return to the office weary, having spent what feels like every second week either manning a booth or walking the halls of a tradeshow.

As always, we’ve done plenty of business, and got plenty of feedback from hundreds of other exhibitors at dozens of tradeshows, ranging from the good, to the bad, to the ugly.

Overall, a good trade show can be a brilliant way to engage directly and face to face with customers and prospects, but it’s damn expensive!

I’m always fooled by the booth base-price, and somehow get a mental block that forgets to add in all the compulsory extras, not to mention the costs of getting materials there, plus the travel, accommodation, taxis, meals, not to mention  staff time out of the office.

To be sure, trade shows are an expensive option, there can be excellent value at the right show with the right people, but it’s not always guaranteed and you will pay for it.

By contrast, there are no hidden extras with an ad. The one price pays for the ad to travel for you, and in the right magazine, puts it in the hand of all the right people, whether or not they travel to a show.

The level of engagement of someone seeing your ad, versus talking to them on your stand, is obviously lower, but the breadth of people that you reach is much, much higher.

Dollar for dollar, the right ad in the right magazine can go a lot further than a trade show.

Best of all, combining magazine ads with a trade show presence can ensure you reach not just the show visitors, but everyone who didn’t come as well (provided of course it is an audited magazine that is actually posted to subscribers, and not just one of the ones that gets handed out at shows).

We always have some great conversations at shows, but not as many as we get from people who have seen the magazines and contacted us.

What about you – I’d be interested to hear how other people think the two compare?