Trade shows

OK, I'm just out of the box today. Trade shows are a communication medium, so this fits in the state of the media.

I just got an email from the In-Stat folks saying they are shutting down the Microprocessor Forum in the US for 2008 and are replacing it with a series of, as yet, undefined, one-day conferences. Attendance at the MPF this year was abysmal so it no longer made financial sense for Reed to continue funding it.

The MPF is supposed to be one of the more prestigious events for semiconductor companies to be featured at. Every year I get requests from clients to set up press meetings at the conference, which is one of the tougher places to get meetings. And now it's gone.

Trade shows are showing the same strain as print, at least in the US and probably Europe. They took an enormous hit after the dotcom meltdown at the turn of the century and another after 9/11 (Everyone was afraid of flying).

But I saw a couple of news releases tooting the CES horn that they anticipate another 4 percent growth this year, which still doesn't get them back to what they were pre-meltdown. So I started looking through the web to find out what other trade shows are saying. It's the same thing. Two percent here, three percent there. "Oh we were down this year because of our location." That was the Design Automation Conference's excuse this year. Next year they're in Anaheim and then SF.

The bottom line is that at best, trade shows in the US are stagnant. They are not growing. That's not a good sign. Especially for startups. And more large companies are investing in proprietary shows that can ace out competitors. That's where the real growth is in the US.

However, I also found that in places like Mexico, Taiwan and India, trade shows are booming. A machining conference in Mexico reported a 42 percent increase in attendance.

Once again, the clear cut ways of getting your story out to the market is turning into an amorphous blob. If you want to continue marketing your company the way you are used to, time to get out of the US altogether.

Can you say "DAC 2010 in New Dehli?"