Monday, May 5, 2008

Virtualize this…

Interop, Las Vegas – the mere whisper strikes either fear or joy into the hearts of every high tech marketer in America. People in this business don’t set their watches by it, they plan their calendars around it. Vacations, meetings, training events, and even weddings (!) sway in accommodation for this annual IT pilgrimage to the Mecca of all things bright and brazen.

As we’ve discussed, I hate trade shows. Trade shows are dead or dying. And as previously stipulated, I am never wrong…


Is it possible to be a little tiny bit wrong?

Visiting Mandalay Bay for a quick in and out last week brought me up short.

Here 25,000 people, mostly card-carrying, paid-up members of Geek Nation (my favorite buyer persona), herded around cattle fields full of vendor booths sniffing crop loads of black boxes with blue blinky lights. Old geeks, hairy geeks, bald geeks, creepy tattooed geeks, geeks in jeans, geeks in suits, geeks in patent leather(!) all sniffing and poking, pawing at the ground, mooing and ahhhing occasionally. A technomarketers sweaty palmed dream come true.

Major OSG kudos to vendors who subscribed to my Dozen Dirty Tricks for Trade Shows – the place was overrun with booth models, golf simulators, free tee-shirts, and blinky-lights as vendor after vendor strove to be REMARKABLE.

A tiny training company with a 10x10 booth, and a tiny marketing budget takes home the coveted First Annual Kirby Award for best-of-show promotional remarkability this year.

On the first day of the show, their promo models proudly wore skin tight tees emprinted with simply, “Virtualize This…” (or was it Virtualize These...? I was afraid to look.) on the front, which generated a solid buzz.

They outdid their own buzz factor, and every other exhibitor large and small, when the next day, the models arrived in bikinis, and lounged around on beach towels in the booth, (their giveaway theme was an island vacation).

But, I have to admit, when they broke out the Twister game, I retired my tradeshow number to the rafters, and packed it in.

Flourescent shirts have nothing…nothing at all on this.

Maybe my OSG heart was a few sizes too small?

Maybe tradeshows do have some value after all?

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