Most of the last couple of weeks saw KEXINO in the German city of Düsseldorf attending DRUPA, the world’s largest tradeshow for the printing industry.
Talking to exhibitors, it’s clear that most had the feeling that attendee numbers were significantly down compared to DRUPA 2004. Of course, the exhibition organisers tell a different story.
We’ve been saying this for some time now, but we firmly believe that the writing’s on the wall for the ‘traditional’ tradeshow exhibition format.
The truth is that the profile of show attendee has drastically changed over the past few years. Manufacturers no longer need to wait until a tradeshow to launch their new products or services when the web can give them instant exposure to their targetted demographic. Tradeshow visitors are more clued-up on what to see – and what’s not worth seeing – and do their booth visit plans well in advance of ever setting foot in the exhibition centre.
In short, most tradeshow organisers provide much less value to both exhibitors and visitors than before, because they’re running the show in the same way that they’ve done for the last thirty years. Unless they radically change the way they organise tradeshows, many manufacturers may end up spending their marketing cash elsewhere. Not the big players, of course, who need to spend their marketing budget allocations in fear of not getting sufficient funds in next years business plan.
However, the small, often innovative niche companies that we were used to seeing in ‘pipe-and-drape’ booths peppered around the show floor periphery are increasingly finding it harder to justify investment in such tradeshows, preferring to look at more targetted means of attracting prospects and channel partners.
The days of building a booth and adopting a “If We Build It, They Will Come” attitude is as dead as the floppy disk. If your company doesn’t plan your tradeshow presence with pre- and post-show programmes, communications, public relations and a lead-generation and closing strategy, then your tradeshow booth is nothing more than an expensive advertisement.