Are Trade Shows Dead?

February 8, 2008 at 6:33 pm Leave a comment

Yesterday, I was sitting with a few of my guys in San Diego, having a post-meeting recap beer, looking at the sun set over the bay, killing time before our return flight. The conversation moved on and we started talking about trade shows and whether they are worth the money anymore.

Funny, then, that Bloglines had Tom Teynor’s Are Trade Shows a Waste of Time and Resources? waiting for me to read this morning. I highly recommend reading it. If you’re like me, I constantly wrestle with how much money I should spend on trade shows and conferences, and how much on direct/online marketing.

My general opinion is that trade shows are not as important as they used to be; conferences are good if your people are speaking and you can leverage meetings; always make sure your salespeople have pre-set meetings; never rely on trade show floor traffic alone; smaller professional group meetings (of CFOs, CSOs, DBAs, etc.) are cheap and good for salespeople to meet actual buyers; and that there are certain industry events in your sector (e.g. the RSA Conference in security) that you just need to be at.

That said, if you want to do more shows or make sure you are spending wisely, I like Tom’s approach. Make it into a spreadsheet and show your VP of Sales how much shows really cost. Better yet, ask him or her to step up and agree to a revenue number from the show. Most won’t – you’ll make your point.

I’d love to hear what others have to say. At some point I’d like to dig into the Web 2.0 style pre-conference meeting setters that get like minded people together. I think that could really change the equation.

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