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May 27, 2009

The tragic demise of tradeshows...

Part of the problem of technological change is that it renders things that are a lot of fun useless.

For example - advertising, big ads in magazines, newspapers, on TV and radio - really is a lot of fun to do. Feeds the ego to I might add. Just not as effective as other mediums and nowhere near as cost effective.

So if your goal is to make the phone ring or the inbox ping then its out...

I always wanted to own a magazine, and I still do. A real print, check it out at news stands magazines. But alas and alack that industry is decaying rapidly and whats left is far too competitive for me I am afraid.

My latest casualty in the things I really enjoy but are no longer effective - are trade shows.

I started to frequent trade shows in the early 1990's and back then it was great. 

Lots of clients, few consultants, low levels of competition and easy opportunities to meet economic buyers. I went, spoke, held workshops and reaped the rewards.

Today... I don't go anymore. it is good fun, and a great social occasion, but my time is far better spent elsewhere doing other stuff.

Trade shows are like that really good restaurant that was great when nobody knew about it, but it's ruined now that the secret is out.

Few clients, being harassed by a throng of sellers, and all the competition there to try to scoop you. And there are many (MANY) trade shows these days. Everyone with a roladex and a telephone seems to be trying to organize one.

Most client who go these days may be influencers but they are rarely economic buyers; and the theory that your competitors will be there to take your business is only true if you brand and competitive advantage does not speak volumes about your work.

There are one or two really good ones every year in industries related to mine. Diggers and Dealers is one of those, (cool name isn't it?) and there are a few others.

But mostly I go for fun rather than for marketing or sales these days. Far better ways to make money than hawking at these types of events. Tragedy really...

This is an industry that needs a Steve Jobs moment. Maybe you can think of a better way to "do" trade shows?

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