Why do we go to trade shows? Should we continue to do so? Beyond the big costs of the booth space, services, construction, signage, swag, collateral and ads, there are all the travel costs for the staff attending. Of course the companies who pay to exhibit want a return on the investment, but is counting the number of sales leads the only true evaluation of that? I think not.
Case in point: I was at the ASIS conference held in Orlando, Florida, this month, and many people in the exhibit hall were remarking on the low turnout – as they have for several years now. The first day did seem to have light foot traffic in the aisles, and numerous assumptions were made: folks were attending the keynote speeches first, they weren’t flying in til later on, they don’t like the heat and humidity of Florida, etc. Things did pick up nicely on the second day, and pockets of crowd concentrations would pool around those exhibitors with cool new launches, theater presentations, product contests and afternoon beverages.
Milestone’s booth was well populated as usual, both for our training program info, software or NVR demos and not least for the innovative offerings of our Milestone Solution Partners with their own display pods. The Milestone business model that enables community partnering lends itself to a multiplying effect.
The tone of the week seemed productive to me, thanks to the less-than-hectic pace that otherwise comes when you have to jostle shoulder-to-shoulder for three days, raise your voice to be heard over the thrum of thousands talking, weave through the groups to find someone. The steady flow of partners and customers in the Milestone booth felt right. Our open platform community of hardware, solution and integrator partners and teams of potential customers all came to speak with us – and with each other.
Many of the people in our community have great depth of experience, and their expertise is sought out. Meetings go on in the upstairs rooms, at the cafe tables, around the demos. Challenges are earnestly described; their solutions presented or discussed for coming releases. Mutual strategies are clarified and plans are laid on how to achieve them. Successes are acknowledged and awarded. (Milestone won three awards! For XProtect 2016, Husky M500A and the city of Hartford‘s Real-Time Crime and Intelligence Data Centers implemented by Vulcan Security.)
Having the time to share our knowledge face-to-face adds that meaningful and irreplaceable dimension to our interactions that bonds us together. It’s easier to get a sense of who we are, to trust each other in our business relationships. The sales leads are necessary for our business to continue, but they are not the only way to measure the value of attending.