We exhibit at several trade shows and conferences each year. To get in front of our diverse target market, the shows are for Government, Education and Corporate. A variety of verticals should mean plenty of options for quality shows right? Unfortunately not as many as we might like.
We use the opportunity to exhibit primarily as a lead generation vehicle. As much as we might like to send someone on the road 30+ weeks a year to exhibit at every even remotely applicable show just for brand awareness, we just don’t have the budget.
So when I take a look at a new show opportunity, I really scrutinize the details. Beyond the attendance and demographic details in the prospectus provided by the company putting on the show, I try and research the other exhibitors, the conference focus, location, time of year, etc. I even regularly contact past exhibitors to gauge their satisfaction and thoughts regarding the show.
The show we just exhibited at this month in Boston for the first time looked pretty good. The details were attractive on paper, the coordinator of the show is a larger show conglomerate. The conversations I had with the coordinators were good. The current and past exhibitors were definitely similar to another education conference at which we have great success.
But the show was terrible.
I mean, really terrible. And it wasn’t just our booth. The whole expo hall was a ghost town until the attendees came and went for lunch. Even the free cocktail hour opening was dead.
We do this type of thing enough that we are pretty good at it. We incorporate the right amount of swag for the right shows, offer give-aways for scans, and most importantly, we have a great product that we only bring to shows where it is applicable. But there just weren’t any people walking the expo floor looking for anything, even with dedicated expo floor hours.
The hard part is that I, as well as the few other exhibitors with whom I spoke on the matter, couldn’t really tell you why. Did the coordinators not feature the expo enough? Even though paid, were the attendees only there for specific sessions? Did the important people send all their underlings because they were on vacation the third week of July?
In any event, sometimes despite the best research, exhibiting at a new show can be pretty hit or miss. This show was dreadful and we won’t ever exhibit there again which is in stark contrast to our first exhibition last month at TechEd North America were we captured a record number of really qualified leads.