NEW YORK — Trade show perception-management tip of the day: When your conference shrinks to a shadow of its former self, cram it into a tiny venue in the marketing capital of the world, and you just might pull it off.
Exhibitors on the first day of the DMA/AIM net.marketing Conference & Exhibition reported being pleasantly surprised that even though the two-day trade show was small, they still got a solid number of highly qualified leads.
“We met at least a dozen people who we've set up subsequent meetings with,” said Chris Hulse, president of Madison Direct Marketing, Greenwich, CT, a co-op mailer. “When the subject is one channel, the show enables you to present that part of your business. In a general show, you have to have a conversation about what your common interest may be” before you can talk about whether it's a qualified lead.
Only 44 companies exhibited at this year's show, down from 136 a year ago in Seattle. Also, the keynote presentations were packed. However, they were in a room set up for about 400 people — the size of rooms usually used for breakout sessions in larger shows.
Still, floor traffic was relatively brisk, at least on the first day, May 7.
“[Tuesday] was by far the better day,” said exhibitor John Papalia, president of list firm Statlistics, Danbury, CT. “I'm a quality man, not a quantity man, and I got a lot of good quality leads here.”
The Association for Interactive Marketing and the Direct Marketing Association originally planned to stage the event in Las Vegas but changed it to New York, making it easier for a large percentage of the industry to attend. By day two, however, exhibit hall prospecting had clearly dried up, and the sessions were less attended.
“I think a lot of people who work in the city popped over [Tuesday],” Papalia said.
Also, with only 44 companies exhibiting, attendees didn't need two days to visit the booths that interested them. Some exhibitors were withholding judgment until they could follow up on leads.
“It all depends on what comes out of this,” said Kathy Elter, vice president at Walter Karl Interactive, Pearl River, NY. “I've seen better. I've seen worse.”
Walter Karl exhibited this year because parent company infoUSA bought DoubleClick's e-mail list services division in March. Previously, Walter Karl had exhibited in one other net.marketing conference: the infamous 2000 fall net.marketing show in Boston, which by all accounts was a bust and wasn't staged again.
“This show was definitely better than Boston,” Elter said.
Notably absent from the exhibit hall was e-mail list management and development firm NetCreations. Company executives opted to throw a party May 7 instead.
“This is nothing new for NetCreations. We always throw parties in conjunction with industry events,” said Michael Mayor, president/chief operating officer of NetCreations, New York. “It's actually becoming an expectation with our clients and vendors, and we're fine with that.”