“Supercomm, a U.S. telecommunications trade show that has taken on different forms and names over the past several years, has been canceled for 2010 due to lack of interest … However, in recent years smaller, more focused trade shows have pulled some vendors and users away from events with a broad scope like Supercomm.”
There’s no single “Hey Newman” question from a reader this week because they were pretty much all variations on the same theme: What does the end of Supercomm really mean?
Well, it means two things, the first of which was summed up quite nicely in the article quoted above. It means the future of the trade show industry is smaller, highly targeted shows where every attendee and every exhibitor can look around and feel confident they’re in the right place. The days of huge shows — where the newest enterprise server is one booth away from the latest massage chair — are ending.
And the reason for this is simple. Companies are looking at the cost-per-lead numbers from the largest trade shows and are starting to balk, similarly to what happened when the first handful of big players finally shouted, “The Emperor has no clothes!” and backed away from Comdex, starting off a cataclysmic chain reaction. Companies investing in trade shows need to know their money is well spent. And in an age where the technologies across multiple sectors are constantly changing and evolving, it’s essential that a trade show preserve intense focus and relevance. Enter the targeted, smaller, niche trade show, which could be held in the Marriott downtown instead of the convention center. There will be fewer attendees, but they’re all the target audience — rather than a shotgun blast mishmash of leads.
Moving forward, the most valuable shows will be the smaller ones. And it’s going to be up to the companies that exhibit to find the several smaller shows that will replace the one large trade show in which they typically participate. It’s no longer enough to just look at your competitors, figure out which trade show they’re attending and book a big booth at the same event. Companies will need to do the due diligence of researching the best fits for their products and services, and a good place to start is the comprehensive trade show listings at TSNN, for example.
Supercomm’s demise also brings up a point which cannot be overemphasized: Trade Shows are a business. And like any business, if they are not well run, they will fail. In Part Two of this post, I will talk about what I believe Exhibitors MUST do to run a successful enterprise.
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