It’s a new year. Spring is coming. That means the first trade show season of the year is coming. (Fall will be next.) That means a whole bunch of budgetary decisions have to be weighed against a whole bunch of social decisions. Given the gravity of those decisions, we decided to debate the issue amongst ourselves, pro and con. Here’s what happened:
Pro: Hey. How you doin?
Con: Really? That’s how you start a debate?
Pro: Sorry. I think we should sign up for the trade shows because we get to see people we haven’t seen in a while.
Con: Have we ever acquired a new customer as a direct result of attending a trade show?
Pro: No. But if we’re not there, people will think we’re in trouble.
Con: Yeah. But if we go and there are no prospects there, we will be in trouble.
Pro: Given the size of our marketing budget, we can afford to go.
Con: Since the commitment to going costs tens of thousands of dollars, what else might we do with our marketing dollars that could be more effective?
Pro: I have to admit that’s a good question. But I don’t know that anything else is as effective as person-to-person communication.
Con: Do we yet know the effect COVID will have on trade-show attendance in the future?
Pro: No. But isn’t going the best way to find out?
Con: Yes. But it’s also the most expensive way to find out.
Pro: Then what should we do?
Con: I don’t know. Let’s think about it.
Pro: Have I ever told you how much I admire your decisiveness?
The Real Question
The levity of the preceding conversation notwithstanding, that kind of debate goes on in most companies in most years. This year, the debate is likely to be a little murkier thanks to COVID, even though (or maybe because) we seem to be shaking it off in some places (and not in others). But the debate will never go away.
As always, the resolution of the debate will depend on some subjective combination of personal predilections, budgetary considerations, and incremental value. On one hand, we managed to survive two years with virtually no trade shows (but lots of virtual ones). On the other hand, if we don’t show, we run the risk of being perceived as having gone dark.
To go, or not to go, that isn’t the real question. The real question is: What’s the cost of either choice?