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Hordes hold (Earls) Court

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It was a tight squeeze at the TFM&A show

It was a tight squeeze at the TFM&A show

The vicious rumour doing the rounds over the past several years, since the sad demise Comdex in Las Vegas and the toning down of CeBit, is that trade shows are dead. People, so the rumour goes, no longer have the time, inclination or willingness to spend the day in what amounts to an aircraft hanger basically being sold to.

But while some tech trade shows may have had their day, it seems people still have appetite for learning. Attending the Technology for Marketing and Advertising show yesterday at Earls Court, the education seminars were not only full, but people were being turned away by bouncers at the entrance – a scene unheard of at most trade show seminars.

The Google seminar centred on website analytics was, as expected, full to the rafters half an hour before the event even begin. It seems even if Google is slipping out of favour with many, the power of its search engine cannot yet be overlooked by those with websites and e-commerce portals.

Other seminars such as the Chartered Institute of Marketing were similarly busy, even if they had slightly smaller presentation theatres. The real eye opener was that even the sponsored seminars, which are, let’s face it, are tantamount to someone selling to a large audience via a PowerPoint presentation, were jam-packed.

But what is the reason for all of this keen-bean enthusiasm? The first is the content. As with all things these days, content is king. And the content of this trade show was right on the ticket – social media, cloud computing, marketing and advertising in a recession, digital marketing.

Added to this that the show was free to enter so the only outlay for most businesses is the time of the attendee, which when weighed up with the possibility of increased web traffic, better customer engagement and more knowledgeable staff, is a no-brainer.

Another reason is that presentations and seminars are trade shows are now a lot better than they used to be. Gone are the hour-long pitches and death by PowerPoint. Instead companies have woken up to the fact that the audience wants something; that they, as presenters have to give value to their audience, whether in terms of knowledge-sharing, research, discounts or just hints and tips, no longer is it about pure selling.

A change in culture also has a part to play too. As we are beseeched by this digital and social world, employees know they need to know more in order for their companies to thrive – although this could also could be selfish reason that they want to increase their own knowledge for career progression or alternative jobs. In the tight economy people look for new ways to invent themselves and with the hype around social and digital media, becoming an advocate cannot do any harm and it enhances their personal brand.

The seminars from the show are available here

Sara Driscoll

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Written by pilotlight

25/02/2009 at 3:53 pm

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