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August 26, 2007


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» What role does tradition play in your marketing plan? from Jacquelyn Lynn, Business Writer
How much of your marketing plan is based on doing things a certain way because that’s the way they’ve always been done? It might be time to rethink your strategy, because tradition has no place in your marketing plan. Steve [Read More]

» Tradeshow Booths: What a waste from CCUCEO
David Meerman Scott thinks so. So does Steve Johnson. I agree. The bigger the tradeshow, the bigger waste of time and money with tradeshow booths, as an attendee or sponsor. But they still draw huge crowds...Peer pressure? Free Liqour? What. [Read More]


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Brian Joseph Anderson

Oh, how I remember those laborious, and futile computer and telecom trade shows. Like yourself, I never understood how handing out expensive brochures and corralling people to watch company videos did any good or anybody. And yet, the exhibit hall was crowded with other vendors doing exactly the same thing.

It's a shotgun, ready-fire-aim approach that conventional thinkers are comfortable with. "We've been coming here/doing the same thing for years" is their mantra.

Meanwhile, there are these dynamic, under-utilized lead-generating engines called websites and blogs that can be individually tailored to any client or niche ...just lying about. All they require is a new and different thinking style to fire them up.

Jacquelyn Lynn

Tradeshows—my feet hurt just thinking about them. They certainly have their place, but only if the exhibitor sets up an exhibit that functions from the buyer’s perspective. For so many sellers—including B2B technology product companies—the focus is more on “here’s what we do” rather than “this is how it solves your problem and meets your needs.” Venues change, but the basics don’t. The most popular person in the room is the one who is genuinely interested in others. The most successful salesperson is the one who figures out the needs of prospects and meets them—whether that’s in an exhibition hall or on a website or anywhere else.

David Meerman Scott

Jacquelyn and Brian,

How right you both are! It is refreshing to hear from people who think like we do. Too bad so many comapnies are throwing away resources on these wasted efforts.

Cheers, David

Saeed Khan


Gotta disagree. Yes some (possibly many) companies don't have a clue when it comes to tradeshow demos, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Face to face demos are part of a conversation one can have with a prospect/customer. That conversation may have many parts, some personal and some not so personal.

Demos simply provide a tangible taste of most products with opportunity for follow on conversation, either at the trade show, or later once the show is over.

The web is no replacement for a high-touch face-to-face conversation. It can augment it, but for many people, the whole point of the show is to talk about and see the products they are interested in.

I'll leave it at that, but if you want more, check out the blog posting in response to Steve's original article.

What's the deal with trade show demos?


Paul Young

David, I'm going w/ Saeed on this one. At some point we gave up on tradeshows, for lots of reasons...but they don't NEED to be without value. We're the ones to change that.

Demos don't have to be bad. Unfortunately that's about all you see these days. I find it ironic that in your very next post you laud a B2B marketer for using alternative methods online with success but at the same time seem to believe that a B2B demo is destined to fail at a trade show. Not true!

In my last role I worked for Cisco and showed a web-based network management tool. It doesn't get less sexy than that. :) I was able to use a One Feature Demo technique on several occasions to further a conversation in the booth with a prospect by showing them something targeted.

The point is demo's, like blogs, news releases, RSS, etc is a tool. Any of those can be equally ineffective if used incorrectly.

I challenge us all to shift the paradigm and leverage demos into a scalable, best-of-breed solution with applications across multiple verticals.

Yes, that is a joke!!!

My post in the blogfest:

Mike Volpe

At my last company we did everything possible to get more leads from every tradeshow we attended, and it was still our highest cost per lead marketing activity (aside from print advertising) with about the same close rate as most other activities. And frankly, most of the "leads" were people who stopped by the booth to see what all the buzz was about, not who really wanted to talk to us.

But, I can also say that for my new company, our close rate for an in person meeting is much higher than a phone/GoToMeeting web demo. Our business model is to sell over the phone (it is an inexpensive product) but as a startup we're looking for traction, even if it makes our sales process a bit more expensive.

So, we will be doing our first tradeshow in a couple months, as a test. However, there will be no canned demo. We'll do something to try to get people to come to our booth, and then try to engage them in a quick conversation to see if they even care about what we sell. After that, if they ask for a demo, we'll do one, but otherwise we'll cut them loose.


You are so right! There is no greater waste of resources than time and money spent at/with tradeshow booths. Total waste.

Thanks. Seeing how many people continue to attend these soirees, I thought it was just me.

Jim Cundiff

I advise my clients to reduce the number of tradeshows as much as possible. Since I focus on the broadcast and media technology industry, trade shows are an inescapable requirement. You may want to avoid the show but you are conspicuous by your absence.

During the national Association of Broadcasters trade show in Las Vegas in 2006, I was waiting to talk with the CEO of one of my prospective clients. I was chatting with one of the company's salespeople and I asked, "How's the show going." His reply was, "Great. I've my demo down to six minutes."

I knew right then I had a much better prospect for sales training than I thought. I was right.

Jim Cundiff
Sales Performance Associates


Provide your potential customers with a comfortable atmosphere in which to shop or look over the material being offered. Trade show booths may be small compared to your showroom but it should still give the same feeling as if they are in your place of business. Try to wow them in the same ways but be quicker with your pitch. With so much competition surrounding you, getting your message across quickly is crucial.

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