For the Love of Trade Shows
With Barcelona behind us, the RF industry is transmitting full speed ahead to San Francisco for IMS. Trade shows force us to redefine our sense of everything. Food has a different meaning; money has a different meaning; and if you’ve opted for front-lit foam board displays, your competitor has likely opted for GaN-powered neon and pyrotechnics.
Along with the inevitable mobile RF tech and sushirritos — sushi + burrito, and like the “made up” words of RF, it’s a real thing — we can expect IMS to include some of the trade show antics we know and love.
When you arrive at a trade show, you may think you’ve mistakenly walked into a cheap Las Vegas casino. Do not turn around — you’re in the right place. The confusing floor plan, deafening noise and cheap fixtures are part of the excitement. Embrace the chaos, especially as your neighboring booth has already turned into an 80 decibel dance party.
Exhibitor or media, you’ll first have to break down attendees into qualified leads, prospects and trick-or-treaters. The trick-or-treaters will have found a bag at one of their first booth stops and will spend the entire first day of the show depleting companies’ stocks of promotional items. Their goal is to collect as many pens, bouncy balls, post-it notes, inflatables, USB drives and lanyards as possible, before the show floor closes.
By day two, your booth is buzzing with activity, you’ve successfully briefed a couple analysts on your newest RF wares and you start to wonder why it cost $150 to rent your trash can. Anyone who has budgeted for an RF industry trade show knows the trade show currency exchange rate. Similar to other exchange rates, $10 in the real world equals $1 in the convention center. So a $40 flip chart costs $400 per day … to rent. In the realm of trade shows, you certainly can’t afford to buy a trash can or flip chart, so you must rent one at 10 times its replacement value … per day. It’s no wonder exhibitors attempt to sneak in items they forgot — like the man I once saw carrying bar stools on the subway.
Once you’ve come to terms with “trade show sticker shock” and spending a quarter of your annual budget on a trade show, day two is generally when things go right. You have the lingo down, you announce a new high power GaN MMIC and you schedule an interview between your CTO and a trade book editor. All is well, pending a visit from your biggest customer’s key executive.
By day three, all the feeling has left your legs. You’re no longer able to stand without leaning on a cocktail table — or on the column that inevitably breaks up the great design of your booth. There are 14 people still wandering the show floor. Thanks largely to day one trick-or-treaters, you don’t have a single pen left.
As you pack up in the afternoon, you start to calculate the replacement costs of leaving everything. Or whether you should host a last-minute giveaway. Or if there are still trick-or-treaters who might want your remaining semiconductor components … or perhaps the booth itself. As you weigh the costs of “let’s just sneak out the back door,” your biggest customer’s key executive stops by. She congratulates you on your latest design win and asks if she’ll see you at the next show. You smile — of course she will.
Follow Brent on Twitter at @QorvoInc.