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Getting Value From Trade Shows: VON Redux

Tom Keating took a humorous swipe at VON this morning.  Well, at least, I am going to treat it as humor, and pre-suppose that he doesn’t want to create bad feelings between the two giants of the IP Communications tradeshow world today — TMC and Pulvermedia. 

Tom quoted Voxilla’s Chamberlain as saying that traffic was down.  He also quoted Garrett Smith with a similar view.  But you know, my team, on the AOL booth, was run off their feet for the whole show. We had a very different experience.

Getting value from tradeshows is a real art. 

  1. Begin with solid, achievable objectives.  Is it PR? Lead generation?  Business?  Know in advance what you want to achieve, and how you’re going to achieve it. 
  2. Make sure the audience that you need to achieve those objectives attends the show and knows that you are there.  A trade show is nothing more than an opportunity for face-to-face meetings.  Figure out what meetings you want, the objective of the meeting, and define a successful outcome.
  3. Message your objectives clearly to your audience — on your booth, brochures, and in presentations.  How many booths have you walked by at a show where you haven’t got a clue what is being sold?
  4. Pre-book as many meetings as you possibly can.  Get on the telephone, weeks in advance, and set the meetings.  The worst time to set the meetings is at the show. At that point, you’ve left your objectives up to chance.
  5. Follow up religiously.

iotum went to VON to achieve three things:

  1. Support our new partner AOL in recruiting developers at their boot.
  2. Recruit Asterisk business for our company, and close some Asterisk deals that we had been working on.
  3. Meet the press, and explain the momentum we have achieved recently. 

We did great.  We have more post-show follow up than we can possibly handle, and some great business deals which we will be able to announce shortly.  Tom’s post about VON complaints, when compared to our experience, really shows the gulf of experiences which are possible at a trade show. 

If you’re going to spend the money on a trade show exhibit, make sure you do everything you can to maximize your ROI.  Preparation is key.  The disappointed exhibitors are usually the ones who didn’t.

{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Ben Lucier September 27, 2006, 2:01 pm

    Excellent points Alec, agree with you 100%. The same can also be said for those who are not exhibiting… but attending. With over 300 exhibits, we would have found ourselves out of time if we didn't clearly set our expectations with the exhibitors up front. For example: I noticed many vendors launching into their sales pitch without so much as asking their potential customer what their target price range is.

    It's silly to think that many of the vendors would launch into a sales pitch for a product that's $150,000, only to find out their target customer is only willing to spend $25,000. It's important to be friendly, but you have to know when to cut your conversation short and move on to the next candidate standing in your booth. Somebody would do well to write a HOW TO on conferences. Hrm… Conference Exhibiting for Dummies?

  • luca September 28, 2006, 4:40 am

    I agree with you. It mainly depends on your goals.

  • Alec September 28, 2006, 7:00 am

    Unfortunately, Ben and Luca, most people don’t define what they want first. Many folks go to a show viewing it as a lead generating opportunity, when in fact it’s a very expensive tool for generating leads.

  • Tom Keating September 28, 2006, 10:02 am

    >>Tom Keating took a humorous swipe at VON this morning. Well, at least, I am going to treat it as humor

    First, glad you found it humorous. Second, it was indeed intended as humor, so I hope everyone – Pulver included took it that way.

  • Alec September 28, 2006, 12:48 pm

    I think you need to find a new team to write your jokes Tom 😉

  • Angie April 2, 2008, 12:24 pm

    I think you're right when you say that it mainly depends on your goals. Everything else works itself out from there.

  • Victoria August 31, 2010, 7:29 am

    As for your comment about people walking by booths and are uncertain about what the company is selling, that is very true. I have attended consumer oriented tradeshows and will walk by booths that have no visitors. I believe it's important for companies to give something away to spark attention. It could be free food samples or imprinted promotional products.

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