Skip to the text below the line for the meat of what he's saying:
If events are to survive and thrive in the future, we must deliver value above and beyond the benefits we've lived off for so long. We must provide a unique and superior option for our target markets. And I believe our value will be directly proportional to the size of the personal problems we solve … personal corporate problems and personal individual problems.
While I tend to agree with Steve most of the time, what he's positing here is a pretty vague goal. He's promised to tell us how to achieve this with his next newsletter. I'm looking forward to that.
Meantime, I'm thinking, why do Ms. TSMR and I go to shows? Last one she went to for her employer was simply to enjoy a perq. Now, as she's starting her own business, she recently attended one for product information and to get to meet some of the folks from the bulletin board where she spends a lot of time.
I go to IAEM and SISO to stay networked, speak as a mod or panelist whenever possible, pick up on gossip, listen to what problems people are having and get people to read the blog and talk to me. If there were a better way to accomplish those things that our industry actually used, I might not go. But our industry just isn't all that big on using technology to communicate, so face-to-face is it.
I don't attend sessions at industry conferences to learn as much to hear what our leaders are saying and what our attendees are listening to (and buying). It allows me to adjust my tuning fork to that of the audience so when it is time for me to talk or suggest a solution, my words don't go over people's heads.
Between my wife and I, there's a half dozen or more "personal" reasons for attending. Not all of which are technically "problems". So I'm unclear what it is that Steve is trying to get across.
Meet you at the bar.
In his Rambling, Steve talked about how we should stop promoting "face-to-face" as the primary reason to attend shows.
I say he's wrong. We just need to promote the value of face-to-face differently.
When the only media you use when talking to customers, opinion leaders, speakers and colleagues is phone (incl. video) or email, you lose something on a personal level. There's a pressure of being on the clock. Small talk disappears. Time is not wasted. Nuance takes a hike.
And maybe the same can be said for the "working hours" of a show or conference. It's all business. Dry as Norwegian flatbread.
It's what happens afterwards that matters. At a typical show, many deals are proposed and/or closed not on the exhibit floor, but in sponsored networking functions, restaurants and bars. The show floor is often the last place to do such business. Booth staff is in a sprint to qualify leads. There is an opportunity cost for spending too much time with one person while other potential prospects walk by. From an exhibitor's standpoint, not closing leads is often the point of the show. Sounds silly, but there's a logic to that.
Certainly there are exceptions and many exhibitors indeed have enclosed "closing rooms" or rented meeting rooms specifically for lengthier presentations and signing the contract. But for smaller exhibitors, the value of many potential sales may outweigh one actual sale. It's about how many people you can talk to in X number of exhibit hours.
For them, it's often the bar or the sponsored party that makes the show. That's where the networking action is. That's where you trade cards and say, "Great meeting you. I'll be sure to stop by your booth tomorrow, I'd love to see what you have."
And when you go home, the people you remember are more important than the products they represent. At least until you actually buy the product.
I believe many show organizers would do themselves a favor by spending less energy on gimmicks to keep everyone on the show floor and more on getting everyone to after hours networking functions.
You can't raise the bar without the bar.