2024 MODEX, MATS and More: Get the most out of your trade show investment

The supply chain trade show season kicked off with a bang. First up: Manifest and NFR, leading into the record-breaking attendance of MODEX. While we wish we could attend them all, if we were spending all our time walking trade show floors we wouldn’t have time to produce great content! This year, Warner kicked off the season with MODEX, hosted in Atlanta. 


No matter where you entered the expansive show floor with its 2,000+ exhibitors, the future of the supply chain was evident: high tech is in full effect. Automation, robotics, drones, and machine learning and AI powered software stole the show. However, narratives and marketing material touting sustainability were also abundant. It was interesting to observe how different companies and industries are telling (or not) their sustainability story and explaining how they contribute to decarbonizing the supply chain. It’s reflective of something we are doing for clients more than ever: crafting a responsible, honest, authentic (no greenwashing) decarbonization narrative for brands, regardless of where they are at in that journey. 


Next up on our tour was the Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) in Louisville, KY. Much like the robots at MODEX get oohs and aahs, the trucks at MATS attract brands, drivers, and even families. Sustainability was less prominent at MATS, understandably so with LNG, electrification and other sustainable fuel alternative technology for semi trucks still nascent. However, high-tech has not missed the trucking industry by any means. Optimization is the theme, with major brands and start-ups alike developing more sophisticated TMS platforms, using algorithms and machine learning to optimize LTL and pooled freight models, and leveraging tech to manage the century-old challenge of fluctuating fuel cost. 


Trade shows are often a core component of B2B marketing programs, providing face-to-face interaction with prospects and product demonstration that simply isn’t quite the same virtually. The same is true for media relations. Much like the deskside tours of yore (the most recent article I could find defining the term is from 2007), trade shows offer company spokespeople an opportunity to chat with news reporters and editors more casually, interacting as people with similar interests and expertise without the pressure of deadlines, specific story angles or agendas. 


Trade shows are significant investments – both in dollars and time. It’s important that companies get as much value as possible from that investment, meaning not just leads, but increased visibility and awareness. Three level one PR tactics for maximizing your trade show investment:

  • Plan a big announcement, whether product, partnership, leadership, or initiative. The bigger the better. Check for a “show daily” and make sure your press release is queued up for inclusion.
  • Contact attending media in advance – sometimes well in advance – to set up meetings, embargo announcements, and put the company on their radar. 
  • Content! Photos, blog articles, customer testimonials, “live” customer interview videos, product demo videos, informal survey research, are all great ways to create and curate content that can serve you for the whole year. 

Next up for us and our clients will be WasteExpo and drupa, with Sustainable Brands and Women in Supply Chain not far off. It’s hard to believe, but we’ve already started planning for CES 2025 and cannot wait to see what AI-powered robotics and automation will be available to supply chain operators on that show floor.

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