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No business like show business…

Heard on the street in mid-town Manhattan: “There wasn’t anything new at that show, nothing that I couldn’t have seen anywhere else. But, I did get the day off.”

Sitting in a sidewalk cafe, a few guys were enjoying a beer. One guy still wore an attendee badge around his neck. It was obvious they came crosstown from the big trade show at the Javits Center. You could tell from their conversation they weren’t going back.

To companies exhibiting at the show, these guys are worth millions of dollars in sales. Yet here they were, totally unimpressed with the biggest trade show in the industry. If they didn’t get the day off and some expense money to come in, they probably wouldn’t have come at all.

Marketing managers hate hearing this. According to one report, B2B marketers spend as much as 39% of their annual budget on trade shows. The cost of displays, shipping, and entertainment is skyrocketing. Yet, attendance is flat or declining. The trade show investment delivers less each year.

Customers expect to see everything there is to know about a company simply by visiting its website. Since some companies are accustomed to posting everything, that works fine for them. Not so for companies with little or no web presence.

A few short years ago, companies used trade shows as a primary medium for news announcements. They presented things that couldn’t be seen anywhere else. Everyone would get excited: the attendees, the media, even the other exhibitors. That practice rarely happens now. And, as much as show organizers try to set the stage, there seems to be little innovation from exhibitors.

If a marketer wants to make their trade show appearance worthwhile, they have make the effort to show something that can’t be seen anywhere else. If they feel it isn’t worth the effort, they have no business exhibiting.

Posted originally on Media Focus, a blog with observations and opinions about the most important aspect of marketing and sales – the expression of ideas. If you like what you’re seeing, please share it with a colleague.  


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