This past weekend, I was contacted by a former colleague of mine from Honeywell. He reminded me of a conversation we had had a number of years ago about the value of trade shows.
He wrote that over the years he has learned that a trade show was "a place where we could interact with customers and sell them on the benefits of products." My correspondent continued about "how everything tied together to accomplish that objective...."
What my friend was talking about was the trade show experience. No matter how many brochures we rain down on prospects and customers, no matter how many phone calls or web clicks we share with them, it really doesn't come together until you meet face to face. And the whole of the marketing experience must be consistent and on message.
My colleague also took it a step further by saying his career has morphed "from being this technical guy who knew everything about round thermostats to becoming a generalist who could create marketing platforms and strategies that were transferable to other products and companies."
That's another benefit of trade shows: they are the cauldron of business in that everything comes together on the trade show floor: marketing strategy, sales activity, competitive interaction and analysis. Employees benefit from being in this fire as it warms them up to the possibilities of the company, the product or offering and themselves. Another friend in marketing for a software firm routinely promotes his trade show managers into product marketing because they "know the way."
Being visionary isn't always about selling the most product. Sometimes it's nurturing not only the selling environment but the sellers.