Why the client asked the question, I’m not sure. But it was timely. It got me thinking—about trade shows, and the people who attend them—and why. That includes the one I’ll be at this weekend.
Do you attend trade shows? I do. I enjoy them. And on lots of themes, too—really, almost anything in which I have an interest, or am curious about.
I’ve attended trade shows in at least three different capacities: as a customer, looking for something I might buy; as a looky-loo, just seeing what’s out there that’s new and different (this is where creative new ideas are often introduced), or simply as an activity to fill my relaxation time; and as an exhibitor, seeking to sell, or at least build interest in, a product or service I’m promoting.
I’ve also seen a fourth reason people attend these shows, but it’s a little subversive: to “work the crowd.” They want to engage the attendees in a product or service they’re offering without buying exhibitor space. A bit of a no-no, at least to the promoter of the show.
Trade shows are a big part of both business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketing in this era. Yes, online marketing has become dominant. While convenient in our busy world, that approach is less engaging, certainly less social, and often less enjoyable for all concerned. Many people like the opportunity to see and feel a product, to engage directly with its inventor or the artisan who created it, or to speak personally with the staff of an enterprise.
And then there are those who simply enjoy soaking in the ambience and atmosphere of a show. (These are clearly not the most introverted among us.)
I happily plead guilty, on all counts.
As I mentioned, I’ve been on the other side of the booth table as well. It can become a long and tiring day (we’re warned that one of our top priorities for the day should be to wear comfortable shoes), but it is a delight to meet people who are interested in the service I am marketing, to “talk shop” with other industry insiders, to build my database of interest or, perhaps, even sell something.Which brings me to this weekend.