Face to Face Still Matters

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Let’s have a conversation about technology shows… and I am not talking aboutInfoComm. I am talking about the smaller manufacturer technology showcases that take place throughout the year. These product showcases are put together for dealers, consultants and hopefully a handful of end-users. These shows are heavily marketed and require a huge amount of coordination and planning amongst other supporting manufacturers to provide an effective setting.

I have recently attended a few of these shows and here are my thoughts. Remember, these are just the thoughts of what is going through my mind as a marketing girl from the integrator’s point of view.

First I arrive and go to the registration desk to sign in. I am now in awe of the stacks of name cards that were being filed through to find the one card with my name on it. It is mid-afternoon of a two-day show that was ending in a few hours. These stacks of cards are all the people who did not show. Now, I get it: I am a marketing director, I plan events and know that you have to expect a 25-30 percent of no-shows. Why didn’t people attend? With the increase of communication through social media, great reps, endless emails of product announcements, trainings, webinars, industry rags, the list can go on and on. The question presents itself: Do people need to go to these small product showcases to obtain information?

Back to the show… it is quiet and I begin to mingle. After all, that is what these shows are all about. I can almost see every face from standing in one single area.  It is obvious to me that people are there to network. I hear the same questions: How is business?  Are you experiencing highs and lows? At this point I am noticing that nobody is really looking at products or visiting booths, the knowledge they are seeking is solely from networking.

So now my wheels are turning. I know how much work these shows are to coordinate. Are they worth it?  From a networking and conversational standpoint they are. Why not just plan a party and invite everyone to attend? Why go through the trouble, the coordination, and the money associated to display products that nobody is exploring. I do hear conversations about products and client needs but I don’t see anybody really hands on checking things out.

Why not just say what it is?

Come join us, have a few cocktails, some hors d’oeuvres and talk to each other. It is the one thing we cannot re-create through technology and the one thing that draws people there. Think about InfoComm and the manufacturer parties that are planned. Everyone looks forward to those events and conversations of those nights continue throughout the year.

If a manufacturer decided to set the mark, plan regional parties rather than product showcases each year, in a really cool space with good food, drinks and friends of the industry, I bet it would be highly attended.

It would accomplish the same goals with less coordination, a bigger draw and less disappointment at the end of the night looking at the large stack of no-show name tags.

So tell me why do you attend or not attend these shows? I bet every manufacturer would want to know.