Some Thoughts on PPAI Expo ’10

Posted on 19. Jan, 2010 by in Takeaway

So..for the first time in a while we didn’t get a booth in Vegas (see previous post)

I was feeling a little at a loss about what I was going to do all day but somewhat incredibly I was actually busier than past years. I met with more people and worked on bigger more interesting deals that ever before. Here’s what I did…

I sent out an email to a bunch of people I wanted to talk to about 3 weeks before the show. Most of them replied and I set up a bunch of meetings. It was pretty casual for the most part, the coffee shop, a restaurant, a bar, some party that we were both going to…but the reality is that I had uninterrupted conversations with the people I wanted to talk to.

I often feel that standing in a trade show booth is one of the most boring and soul destroying activities on the planet. Most of the time one of three things happens…1) you stare at your booth mates wondering if anyone is going to stop and visit the booth 2) people visit who have no intention of remembering what we told them (the “just scan me” crowd) or 3) people come and try and sell you their stuff. Occasionally you have a good conversation with someone but I’d say from past experience you get around 5 of those per day. 5 good chats in a day is not terrible but the big question is how do you increase that number and get rid of all the other nonsense.

So I decided to do it differently this year and it worked better…but I still think we haven’t found the right solutions and that there has to be a better way to do trade shows.

The traditional trade show format make sense if your going to have a huge booth and a large staff managing the booth. That way you can actually get EVERYONE who comes to the show to stop by the booth and engage with your company. When you are smaller you don’t really have the resources (we’re talking 100K+ to do it right) to connect with thousands of people.

There has to be a better model for the smaller company to engage people at a trade show. Maybe something like setting appointments in some sort of meeting room on the floor. That way each person who comes to the “booth” would be somewhat qualified in advance, committed to listening to the sales pitch and feel like they got something out of the experience. If anyone has more thoughts on this topic I’d love to hear them…we’re definitely looking for better ways to get our message across without acting like the human version of SPAM.

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply