Are trade shows dead? My answer might surprise you

Harry McCracken, who used to be the lead editor over at PC World, notes that CES is getting smaller. 22% smaller this year.

I will predict it will be even smaller next year. Why? Because I know many of the marketers at the world’s largest tech companies and they say they are going to downsize their booths next year.

But, I’m also hearing enough people say that they are getting good value out of their investments here so they will increase in size or stay the same.

So, I was wrong to say that CES is going to die. It’s pretty clear that won’t happen.

On the other hand? MacWorld is in the midst of a death spiral. No one I know expects that show to be around in two years. They should have rebranded it iPhone World. That might have saved it. Now? I don’t know if it is savable. IDG is welcome to call me and tell me why it’ll be a strong show, but with Apple and other key vendors pulling out that sure looks dead.

Walking around Broadcom’s booth at CES also taught me a lesson. That the CES show is going back to its roots: interactions between tech companies and the buyers. That’s something that can only efficiently happen in a tradeshow: getting all those people to visit your company’s headquarters just won’t happen.

So, tradeshows won’t disappear. But they will definitely be smaller for a while. By the way the taxi drivers I talked to in Vegas said every trade show this year had smaller audiences than the previous years. Vegas is getting slammed by the downturn (the airport on Sunday was empty, I haven’t seen that in Vegas since the 1980s).

Enjoy this video from Broadcom’s booth
, they show me the chip that will be in the next cell phones coming next year.

[kyte.tv appKey=MarbachViewerEmbedded&uri=channels/6118/308788&tbid=k_1711&premium=true&height=500&width=425]

20 thoughts on “Are trade shows dead? My answer might surprise you

  1. Good to see you come around Robert. Something else that might interest you, I attended Affiliate Summit the day after CES (Gary V keynoted and kicked ass yet again of course). Both their exhibit space sales and attendance were up significantly. It was their largest show ever.

    Which goes to my point that more than anything tradeshows are a reflection of their industry.

    And to Williams comment above, the ratio of quality buyers at any given tradeshow always goes up in a down economy. The looky loos stay home but the buyers always show up. Thats why unless your company is broke pulling out of a tradeshow in a down economy is just plain stupid.

    It is absolutely the best time to steal market share from your competitors and when the economy rebounds you are in the best competitive position with a new larger piece of the new bigger pie.

  2. Good to see you come around Robert. Something else that might interest you, I attended Affiliate Summit the day after CES (Gary V keynoted and kicked ass yet again of course). Both their exhibit space sales and attendance were up significantly. It was their largest show ever.

    Which goes to my point that more than anything tradeshows are a reflection of their industry.

    And to Williams comment above, the ratio of quality buyers at any given tradeshow always goes up in a down economy. The looky loos stay home but the buyers always show up. Thats why unless your company is broke pulling out of a tradeshow in a down economy is just plain stupid.

    It is absolutely the best time to steal market share from your competitors and when the economy rebounds you are in the best competitive position with a new larger piece of the new bigger pie.

  3. Broadcom’s chips are awesome. Though I think that you will find that the current Texas Instruments Cortex A8 chip that is in the Archos 5G device, does already most of those things. Such as outputting to HDTV using HDMI, advanced OpenGL 3D graphics rendering, HD video codecs playback and more stuff that the Broadcom people are talking about in your video. And the Archos 5 has been out since last September worldwide as an actual commercial product, not only as a booth demo..

  4. Broadcom’s chips are awesome. Though I think that you will find that the current Texas Instruments Cortex A8 chip that is in the Archos 5G device, does already most of those things. Such as outputting to HDTV using HDMI, advanced OpenGL 3D graphics rendering, HD video codecs playback and more stuff that the Broadcom people are talking about in your video. And the Archos 5 has been out since last September worldwide as an actual commercial product, not only as a booth demo..

  5. I attended the CES for over 15 years, both summer in Chicago and winter in Las Vegas, and some in places brfore they chose Las Vegas as a permanent site and heard that the demise of the winter show was happening almost every year for many reasons from economic to “Do we need 2 shows a year” and more. I think that (in the past) many of the attendees used the show as a break to “get away” for a breather after a stressful holiday season. I do know that it seemed as if a lot less actual business was conducted at the winter show as compared to the summer show.

  6. I attended the CES for over 15 years, both summer in Chicago and winter in Las Vegas, and some in places brfore they chose Las Vegas as a permanent site and heard that the demise of the winter show was happening almost every year for many reasons from economic to “Do we need 2 shows a year” and more. I think that (in the past) many of the attendees used the show as a break to “get away” for a breather after a stressful holiday season. I do know that it seemed as if a lot less actual business was conducted at the winter show as compared to the summer show.

  7. The search engines killed the trade shows, as they have turned the Internet into a 24/7 trade show.
    Read about the decline of the trade shows: http://bit.ly/2v5S6q

    As 7 out of 10 B2b start with an Internet search and only 2 to 3 % of all your visitors will ever register online or contact you, then there is a problem or an opportunity:
    Get a web service that reveals the companies visiting your website and their interest by the pages visited (+more data). This will allow you to qualify them as leads.
    Cold calling on “warm” companies will be more effective (interested companies).

  8. The search engines killed the trade shows, as they have turned the Internet into a 24/7 trade show.
    Read about the decline of the trade shows: http://bit.ly/2v5S6q

    As 7 out of 10 B2b start with an Internet search and only 2 to 3 % of all your visitors will ever register online or contact you, then there is a problem or an opportunity:
    Get a web service that reveals the companies visiting your website and their interest by the pages visited (+more data). This will allow you to qualify them as leads.
    Cold calling on “warm” companies will be more effective (interested companies).

  9. Hi Robert. Regarding CES attendance, I’ll offer that while the number of attendees was down, it seemed, at least for me, that the quality of attendees was way up. At my booth I had USAF generals and high-ranking visitors from major US and foreign firms – not the usual buyers and tech folk. This could indicate that firms see technology as being more critical in rough times than otherwise, hence the change in types of visitors we saw in our booth.

  10. Hi Robert. Regarding CES attendance, I’ll offer that while the number of attendees was down, it seemed, at least for me, that the quality of attendees was way up. At my booth I had USAF generals and high-ranking visitors from major US and foreign firms – not the usual buyers and tech folk. This could indicate that firms see technology as being more critical in rough times than otherwise, hence the change in types of visitors we saw in our booth.

  11. “So, I was wrong to say that…

    The Fortune Cookie Says You Will Do That Again and Again…

  12. “So, I was wrong to say that…

    The Fortune Cookie Says You Will Do That Again and Again…

  13. Robert. The taxi driver comments were the same I heard while in Vegas for the DevConnections/DotNetNuke OpenForce conference in November. A good portion of this is certainly related to the current economic climate. Why have a booth at a show when attendance is down b/c companies are cutting travel/education budgets?

  14. Robert. The taxi driver comments were the same I heard while in Vegas for the DevConnections/DotNetNuke OpenForce conference in November. A good portion of this is certainly related to the current economic climate. Why have a booth at a show when attendance is down b/c companies are cutting travel/education budgets?

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