I know, let’s exhibit our wares at #infosec13

And now Infosec is done, and so I face the final curtain (er free pen).

But the big question has to be “did the vendors get a return on their investment?”

I hope they did and I’m sure the people on the day had a ball.  Let’s do the maths.

  • The cost of the space (£530 m/s2; shell scheme £140 /m2)
    • £0 for some charities
    • £5k for a small space
    • £45k for a large space
    • £60k for huge space
  • The cost of the stand materials
  • The cost of “entertainment”
  • The cost of the booth babes/boys
  • The cost of the giveaways
  • The cost of opportunities lost
  • The cost of people’s time
  • The cost of your reputation when a keen buyer speaks to a junior geek who give a poor account of him/herself

That’s anything from £30K to £120K for a reasonable stand or probably about £5k for the budget approach.

Each company will make its own decision on whether to exhibit and how much to spend.  I do wonder how the biggest booths justify the cost, but they do.  I assume that the good-will generated and the demonstration of competence is a sufficient return and that some of the people who wander past will one day turn that memory into a sale or a strategic alliance.

The best way to get the best return must surely be for all the vendor’s staff to focus on the task at hand: promoting their product.  I assume that the marketing strategy includes KPIs for the event and that the vendor is clear about what they want to achieve and why they are there.  I saw some interesting behaviour.  I personally get quite irritated when a post-teenage girl in micro skirt and pouty chest tries to engage me in conversation and then doesn’t know the first thing about the product.  It’s a little cynical for the vendors to think that simply because I’m a bloke, I’m going to be impressed by a bit of flesh.  It doesn’t do them any favours and it certainly isn’t the way to encourage women into IT.  Some of the other interesting behaviours I saw included:

  • Ignoring me as I walk past (er, I don’t mind real employees talking to me and I’ll be polite if I’m not interested)
  • Not scanning my badge when I pick up the free pen (er, don’t you want the leads)
  • Chatting to your colleagues (er, perhaps do that at the office … you are here to work?)
  • Head down tapping out on the mobile (er, perhaps making a sale is more important?)
  • Sitting down writing/reading/eating/filing your nails (er, perhaps if you want to do that you shouldn’t be on the stand)
  • Telling me “I hate this, I’m just a geek” (er, thanks I’ll go away then)
  • Having an events person (eg magician) not working (er, they are there to generate leads not chat up the booth babes)
  • Not letting me have the promotional gift (er, I’ll remember that and I’ll make sure I never select your product)

Magicians are great for the Infosec show.  That and children’s parties.  But if you are going to have a magician, make sure that they have seen Marc Paul‘s excellent video on trade show performances.  He explains how to make the trade show work:  it’s not about the effects it’s about the people.

But before you do hire a magician, bear in mind that Marc says that one year he was replaced … by a lizard in a glass case.  It’s just something to get the crowds, not to entertain them.


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