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In This Issue
The Skinny on Tradeshows
Reports of My Death Were an Exaggeration
Final Word
Quick Links
Laurie Pennacchi
 Beverly with airplane
Laurie  is the cofounder of ExpoMarketing, a well established tradeshow marketing group headquarted in Irvine, Calif.
Laurie explains that, any time the economy slumps we hear talk about trade shows declining.  Since ExpoMarketing's inception we have watched scores of trade shows disappear, including giants such as Comdex. We have seen shows cancelled, then started again a year or two later, or shows joining forces. When 911 happened many predicted that trade shows would be a relic of the past.  Of course, the tradeshow has remained and still plays a vital role.  

For all of us in tech marketing, tradeshows have been a constant part of the rhythm of our promotional efforts.  We stage product launches and customer programs at these industry confabs to tap the excitement and leverage the momentum of an event to draw attention and galvanize our sales efforts.
While often considered a lavish expense, where else can we come face to face with so many influencers, prospects, partners, channel players, and media all at once?  Every marketer knows including a balanced allotment of tradeshows in the oveall marketing mix is good thing and perhaps...even a great thing.
The Skinny on Tradeshows 

But what about now when the economy is shaky and your budget has been slashed.   Travel cuts across the board mean attendance at tradeshows is down.  The skinny on tradeshows is that ...well, they're skinny these days.
To get a good perspective of what's going on and what you should consider when it comes to tradeshows, I am turning to Laurie Pennacchi, cofounder and Executive Vice President of ExpoMarketing.  Laurie is a valued resource, who for over 20 years has been counseling and guiding companies on making the most of their investment in tradeshows.

Reports of My Death Were an Exaggeration 

Just as Mark Twain commented about his death, Laurie says the same can be said of tradeshows.   Despite the ongoing belief that shows are a thing of the past, tradeshows are alive and still a valuable marketing element.  The following are three important points Laurie shared with me:

1.  A lower total attendance figure does not mean that dedicated buyers are not attending trade shows.  Companies might send fewer employees to a show to cut down on travel expense, but they will send the most critical staff. 
2.  There is no substitute for the human interaction that happens on the trade show floor.  In spite of the high cost of exhibiting, it is still far less expensive than sending salespeople around the country to call on target prospects.  It is also the only place where buyers can compare products in real time and educate themselves on the latest in their industry.  The shows that have survived and will continue to survive are those that offer the attendee a robust schedule of technical tracks, seminars or other educational programs in conjunction with the exhibit floor. 
3.  Why not opt to exhibit in smaller spaces at more targeted shows?  Wise marketing managers are measuring ROI on their trade show program and only exhibiting where they will be sure to attract their ideal customer.  In years past they might have been able to select among twenty shows that seemed to fit their criteria, but today they are selecting from three stronger shows.  There is no doubt that budgets are generally lower these days, but it is still possible to have a strong trade show presence within a reasonable budget

Final Word - Tradeshows Can Play an Important Role
In an age of thin is in...skinny tradeshows are a great thing.  The shows that have survived are working hard to add value through compelling speakers, seminars, workshops, and the right mix of exhibitors.   With less choices, you can focus your efforts on the few shows that can really make a difference.  Best of all, there is a good chance that the marginal exhibitors won't be there giving you a greater chance to stand out and be seen.   
Being a part of an industry event communicates a strong commitment to your chosen market.  Don't forget that you can tout and reap the benefits beyond the show floor.   Augment your show presence with a webinar or one-on-one telebriefings so you can include those who can not be there.  There is always a bit of magic cast by a tradeshow that creates excitement and a sense of urgency.  So go ahead and put that magic to work!
Until the next newsletter, wishing you much success on the show floor!

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Beverly Lages
Lages & Associates, Inc.