Why bother with tradeshows as a startup? 

Tradeshows are expensive.

When cash is super-tight, to take your most valuable people out of the office for a couple of days may be deemed as wasting time.

Time that could be spent on developing the product and market entry strategy.

This is one view. Lets explore an alternate view.

Not all Tradeshows are Equal.

Lets explore the upside of attending a small show with a specialist audience.

Two weeks ago we attended the Intelligent Content Conference (ICC) in San Jose, CA. presented by Scott Abel of The Content Wrangler and Ann Rockley of the Rockley Group.

The Intelligent Content Conference was attended by about 400 specialists in enterprise content.

Exposure to a specialist audience at a small tradeshow could be 10X more valuable than a general audience at a much larger show.

In this ICC tradeshow, we met a specialist audience.

In a small specialist show you get:

  • The opportunity is to learn from a specialist audience,
  • Feedback on the product, positioning, capabilities and Interface from professionals and specialists in the field of deployment.
  • The opportunity to go to school on competitive approaches
  • Meetings with power users involved in actual projects where your technology could be deployed.
  • Meetings with industry consultants, journalists and potential partners and influencers
  • A great opportunity for press coverage to raise awareness of your product with the specialist audience.
  • Meetings with prospects that may turn into opportunities and shorten the sales cycle.

What we learned? When you plan to attend a trade-show with minimal budget, you think differently about the purpose and the approach.

  • We learned a lot about where we do not want to compete.
  • We are not an XML authoring tool or an XML content management system. We will leave that to small group of content creation experts.
  • We learned that there is a huge opportunity for editorial publishing using low cost, easy to use tools that enable componentized content to be created, shared, reused, tracked and improved by multiple authors

New Call-to-Action

  • Trade show tchotchkes (giveaways) are a waste of time and money with zero return. The concept of attracting random visitors to your booth to get your tchotchkes is from a bygone era when getting a business card was considered a lead.
  • Don’t waste money on in-bag promos, branded lunch sponsorships or other giveaways.
  • In a small tradeshow, the smallest booth gives you the same exposure to the passing traffic as a booth that may cost twice, or three times as much, but may not give you the opportunity to present a paper.
  • Brochures and info packs are junk headed for the waste-bin and a complete waste of money in a World where users can find out everything they need to know about your company, products and services in a few mouse clicks.
  • This tradeshow info-pack is headed straight for the bin

  • Our postcards with visual confections on both sides of the card that explained our methodology and our content creation structure and the QR code for the free trial giveaway were inexpensive and effective.

Recommendations for Startups Attending Tradeshows

  • Take your best people, founders, marketers and engineers to specialist tradeshows for one day each to learn from the competition and to meet potential users and thought leaders in the field.
  • Take visual confections representing use-cases – not presentations so you can quickly position your offering in the visitor’s own mind.
  • Don’t wait for visitors to come to the booth if it’s slow.
  • Go to where the coffee and drinks are being served and the crowd is milling around, strike up a conversation and it there is interest, invite them back to your booth for a discussion and demonstration
  • Follow-up tradeshow leads with personal insights and create value for the prospect with suggested next steps. (These are leads where you had an actual conversation and you wrote notes to remind you of the conversation on the back of their card or in your note-book after speaking to them)..not where you gave a tchotchke away and got a business card in return.

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