Saturday, June 17, 2017

Our Customers? Who Cares?

On CEIR's blog, adman Gary Slack laments the tradeshow industry's thundering indifference to customers—an indifference, alas, I can vouch for.

"More than any other B2B medium or sales channel, the exhibition industry—meaning trade show producers, contractors, CVBs—is remarkably unconnected with senior B2B marketing leadership, the people who set marketing budgets and make the ultimate decisions on how much gets invested in face-to-face marketing," Slack says.

No matter where or when B2B marketers gather, you can count on the show industry to be a no-show, Slack says.

"Go to any B2B marketing conference and rarely if ever do you hear exhibition industry execs attending, much less speaking or even exhibiting. Yet practically every other recipient of B2B marketing dollars is represented, either in the audience or on the dais or in the exhibit hall, or all three."

This week is bittersweet for me.

It would have seen the inauguration of DARE, a marketing conference I planned with two partners to help bridge the gap between B2B CMOs and the exhibition industry.

We had to cancel the event 120 days out, for lack of sponsors and endorsements by show organizers.

Despite 12 months' effort to reach hundreds of tradeshow industry players, both large and small, only three suppliers—Freeman, Kubik and SpotMe—bought sponsorships before we cancelled DARE; and only one show organizer—NAB Show—endorsed the conference.

DARE sank in the vast sea of indifference to customers.

I'd chalk it up to a severe case of "fat, dumb and happy."

"As long as exhibitions themselves remain so essential to B2B sales success, maybe you don’t have to work as hard trying to grow your slice of the big B2B budget pie," Slack says.

"But by not engaging directly with senior B2B marketers at the events they attend to learn the latest, you are jeopardizing mindshare that some day may be critical to your survival."

There's a melancholic jazz song entitled, "
Due to Lack of Interest, Tomorrow Has Been Canceled."

It might be DARE's theme song—or, if things don't change, the tradeshow industry's.

DISCLOSURE: I am the managing editor of CEIR's blog. Please contact me, if you'd like to contribute content.
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