Monthly Archives: August 2012

Can Companies Still Afford Trade Shows?

A question many companies are asking — are trade shows still worth the investment? More than one marketing manager and CFO is trying to balance the shows’ upfront costs with return on investment.

A major national show may cost start-up companies $20,000 or more for a small booth in the back of the hall, employee travel and other related costs. Large multi-national companies can easily drop $1 million or more for huge booths, onsite staff and wining and dining top customers.

Trade show sponsors, exhibit builders and convention center operators will tell you that any recent falloff in attendance is due largely to a tight economy. They say a show’s face-to-face interaction is irreplaceable. Yet as major exhibitors pull out of shows, the stigma smaller companies face for also not attending has decreased.

So if companies don’t choose the trade show route, what are the alternatives?

Many trade publications offer virtual shows that let shoppers chat online with company reps and receive information about new products and solutions via email. The cost is great, but customers acceptance still leaves these not ready to replace the traditional trade show.

Some companies, either alone or with related service/product providers, are sponsoring their own traveling road shows. A five- to 10-city effort can reach existing and potential customers where they live at a cost equal to one traditional tradeshow. I’ve seen these work well.

I’ve also seen successful variations with companies skipping the trade show exhibit hall and securing hospitality suites to provide an intimate place to showcase products and services to key or would-be customers. Granted, if too many potential exhibitors try this option, the shows will close. Other relatively new and often successful ideas are webinars, podcasts and blogs, often hosted on company or trade media websites. They have the ability to reach hundreds to thousands of targeted groups for a very modest investment.

Obviously, the economy has squeezed trade shows. But when the economy rebounds, will they still be a prime marketing choice or will the newer alternatives take over?  What are your thoughts?

– JD

Twitter: @Jdaum






Should Brands Create Controversies?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about how the president of Chick-Fil-A, Dan Cathy, feels about same sex marriage.  In an interview with the Baptist Press  he took a controversial stance and created an uproar that might have put the fast food joint in jeopardy.

Interestingly enough, this move did wonders for his bottom line. Anti-gay marriage supporters dedicated an appreciation day to the chain, giving it one of the highest grossing sales days it’s ever had.

As a public relations professional, I have to wonder: was Mr. Cathy’s public stance on such a controversial issue intentional?   It came to my attention that almost three quarters of Chick-Fil-A locations are in the more conservative Southern states.  Could this have been a planned PR move in order to boost sales primarily in these areas?

It’s an interesting thought. Marketing departments work hard to create relatable and attractive brand images. So the idea of starting a firestorm seems a bit risky.  Maybe it’s a case where bad press can be good press, too.

So do you think this was an intentional move? Is it a good tactic for brands to create controversy in order to boost visibility and sales?



Hard to Top This One…

Image: ABC News

Somewhere in this country there are highly creative marketing minds buzzing with hot ideas to grab headlines this summer. Here’s a great example.

Trojan, best known as a condom provider, recently added vibrators to its product line. And my hat’s off to the person or team that suggested giving them away this week from hot dog carts in New York City. Trojan used its Facebook site to provide the carts’ locations and hundreds of women — and a few men — lined up for a freebie.

Before the company could give its allotment away, the city closed down the effort for failing to have proper permits. And that really turned the local and national media loose. Headlines such as “City KOs good vibrations” are priceless.

City officials caved under the pressure and agreed to allow Trojan to continue with its plans. A day later, the “Pleasure Carts” were back on the streets — this time in the city’s meatpacking district.

– JD

Twitter: @Jdaum