Thursday, December 18, 2008

An open letter to Steve Jobs about trade shows

Dear Steve,

In yesterday's release about MacWorld 2009, did you really say "Trade shows do not deliver the same return on investment that they did in the past."? I realize the real news in the release was about you not being the keynote at this event, but, come on, that isn't really the kind of message you, an advocate of effective brand selling, wants to deliver in this economy, now is it?

I can understand if MacWorld has run its course as a B2B trade show or a platform for you and Apple. I can also understand if the sales cycle of Apple has gotten to the point that shows don't fit your marketing mix. But to write off shows with a general sweep of the hand as not driving sales well and being a "once-a-year shot" is unfair to an entire industry.

Even without the stats from our friends at CEIR or Exhibitor Magazine , trade shows still are the best return on investment when it comes to face-to-face selling. The basic math says you can meet more customers/prospects/suspects for the price of a single air fare and expenses in one place than you can with one-on-one sales calls. Plus you get the benefit of featuring your brand in a showcase where business leaders and leading buyers are in one place where you are side by side with your partners and competitiors. And let's not forget that face-to-face selling closes sales faster than multiple e-mails, phone calls and text messages. You are better off standing next to your client than you are watching them on a screen. The live experience just can't be replaced.

So, please, don't write off an entire show or industry just because it doesn't fit your specific needs. Of course your products are best sold through your stores or on line. But where else can you be the face of a whole industry, a thought leader? Where else can you encounter people and start conversations that might not otherwise have been possible?

I realize shows are expensive and ROI is important, particularly in this economy. However, there is also ROO (return on objective) and the almost immeasureable brand impact that must also be considered.

Thanks for reading, Steve. Happy holidays and best wishes to you and your family and good health to you. I appreciate all you've done for your industry, technology, entertainment and America. Be thinking about your friends in the trade show industry and what we could really be doing together in 2009 and beyond.

The Trade Show Guy (TTSG)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amen... Trade Show Guy. Seems another exhibitor doesn't know how to be successful at shows, so he blames everything but himself and his company. Last week at the IAEE conference in Miami the halls/walls were screaming the need to help exhibitors measure metrics to identify the illusinve ROI monster. I'm in the business of heloing exhibtors do just that, and my 2+ decaded of statistics validate your comment that when ALL things are considered, trade shows are THE most cost effective form of marketing. What do you do? What biz are you in? Are you IN a company, or are YOU the company. I'm always LQQKing for experienced sellers if you know if any. Glad to hear someone else "gets it" when it comes to shows. The LEAD guru.