I just attended a mid-size trade show. My first thought when I saw all the booths, sales materials and giveaways was, “Isn’t it amazing just how much money companies spend on all this stuff?”
Here are some of the things I noticed:
· A company providing a ‘virtual reality ride’ simulating a roller coaster and submarine.
· A booth where you could get a back massage.
· Lots and lots of trinkets and trash.
I saw several companies competing to get noticed. It made me realize that a trade show is really just a microcosm of the larger market -- Lots and lots of noise (and believe me, the exhibition hall was noisy) and not much value.
Trade shows are another marketing vehicle that has been impacted severely by the Internet. Originally, trade shows were the easiest, and often most effective, way to introduce a group of people to new offerings and demonstrate how those offerings worked. Sellers were able to leverage the investment they made in attending a show because they’d expose their new stuff to a lot of potential buyers. Buyers were able to leverage their time investment because they could research a number of offerings at one time. Considering that’s exactly what the Internet allows us to do, it’s easy to assume that the trade show should be yet another victim of the information age if something didn’t change.
With the original purpose of the trade show dead, has the new value proposition changed into simply getting noticed, or, at least avoiding not being noticed? This got me thinking: Is being noticed enough these days? Is it worth being noticed if you don’t have anything valuable for people to notice? What about the flip side -- Maybe ‘being noticed’ isn’t enough. Maybe the risk of your competitors being noticed without you around is what really matters. Maybe there is so much noise at a trade show that no one actually gets noticed at all.
I think these are questions we all need to be asking ourselves because they apply to more than just a trade show – they apply to our most fundamental marketing strategies (after all, these are the questions that drive companies to advertise during the Super Bowl).
My philosophy is that being noticed isn’t as important to me as who notices. I’d rather have 30 of the right people notice me in a meaningful way then 1,000 people being exposed to me. What do you think?