I had a fascinating conversation with Joe Fabiano who VP of Events for TMC this past week about trends he is seeing these days for TMC’s many telecom-focused trade shows and conferences. Joe said that while attendance numbers might be decreased, he is seeing that companies are still investing in sending their key decision-makers to evaluate new products and plan face-to-face meetings with their suppliers. Quantity might be down but quality is definitely up.
Joe said it is more important than ever that marketing and sales teams connect when it comes to trade show marketing, planning and measurement. It’s one thing for marketing to generate ideas for driving traffic and getting attention at the show but it’s the sales team’s role to follow every prospect in order to capture accurate measurements for success.
The economics of trade shows make more sense than ever, said Joe. To make ten appointments (or more) a day at a trade show is far more time- and cost-efficient than sending your sales team on the road to schedule and conduct those same ten appointments. The trade show environment is a great way to bring clients to you. Joe said his team schedules up to 100 meetings over a three-day period at typical trade shows. Another great point: if you are not doing this, keep in mind that your competition probably is!
I asked Joe his opinion about giveaways vs promotions. It is his opinion that raffles with significant prizes can be more effective than small items like branded pens, note pads, etc. (I think there is a role for it if the strategy and the budget are right). One of his trade shows offers sponsorship opportunities for attendees to win a car. He has gotten great feedback about this promotion and said sponsors were happy with the exposure they received from all of the people who were drawn to the car since it always attracted a crowd and built excitement and media exposure. Sponsors said they often attracted prospects that they may not have met otherwise.
Tradeshows then and now: Joe said that in 2004 there were a lot more parties – as many as five a night – with lots of choices where you could meet industry professionals. In 2010, he is seeing that a most of the big parties are going away since there is a new sensibility in business. The companies that used to throw the huge parties are now just taking clients out to a nice dinner – and capturing more ROI for their presence at industry events.
Based on my conversation with Joe Fabiano, I am seeing that trade show strategies might be evolving but their relevance is in business is just as vital as ever.