On Dropping Trade Show Attendance

Keith over at In The Balance Blog mentions in a recent post that trade show attendance “is not what it used to be”. I think he’s right, although I have no research or data to back it up. I think the reason is that more and more you can get the information you need without going to speak with someone at a show booth, and if you need more than you can get off the Internet, you’re going to want an office or site visit anway. Business is still about relationships, but as the industry is taken over by folks who grew up with computers there will less need for face to face contact.

This is why we at QuadTech have reduced our investment in trade shows. The big flashy booth with lots of equipment just doesn’t serve a purpose any more and it’s ungodly expensive. It’s a much better idea to spend the money on activities that give our customers more of what they need to be successful. That’s not to say we won’t have a presence at shows, just that it will be different than in the past.

Our competitors, I’m sure, will make a lot of noise about this – it’s irresistably human to point out the absense and allude to what “must be” trouble in the home office. We don’t care, as long as they do it while standing in their very large, expensive booth 😉

4 thoughts on “On Dropping Trade Show Attendance

  1. Steve-In the spirt of sharing (which is what I guess all the blog stuff is about) we at ColorMetrix agree with you. We have moved to sharing booth space with others (our product is better presented when shown with others) and picking smaller conference type events like PIA/GATF Color Management Conference and the Print Oasis Conference. There may be fewer attendees than a big show, but they are all seem to make it to all the vendor “table top” displays.

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  2. Aside from the Internet being a prominent source of information now, don’t forget two things. First, there are fewer things to buy. Gone are the prepress supplies and categories as things moved to desktop publishing and direct-to-plate. I used to work for a film manufacturer in the 1980s. Most of us of us would be at the shows: Kodak, DuPont, 3M, Chemco, GPP, Konica, Fuji, GAF/Anitec. Film processor companies would be there, like LogE, Pako, and others. I won’t bore you with longer lists. There are far more product categories that have disappeared than new ones started since the digitization of the business. Second, since things have become digitized, the business is more software oriented. It’s hard to demo software. And when it’s always on a standard platform, the idea of having Macs or Unix stations at every booth just gets silly. There was a time when the equipment all looked different. And finally, with industry consolidation has come the rise of the corporate technology specialist. The show floors would be filled with owners and operations VPs. Now with many plants’ technologies being managed by a higher executive who is responsible for the evaluation and recommendation for all of the plants, of course attendance would decrease. This has led to the personal courting of these executives with plane trips to demo centers where vendors can have their complete attention. Trade shows are still very important, but they are quite different. Since suppliers are always previewing products with press releases and pre-show events, the surprise product introduction is also an endangered species.

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  3. Your comment on the surprise product introduction is interesting. The idea of a surprise is very addictive, but it gets overshadowed by fear that somehow people will miss the surprise. So, press releases are written and a huge PR scoop is lost.

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