DraftLogic had a booth at the recent NECA show in Boston. It was our first public event as a company and the public unveiling of DraftLogic Electrical’s production release. We have had users for years prior, but they were all beta sites helping us with development. Gerry and I manned the booth & Ivy was our support crew.
The new convention center in Boston is cavernous, to say the least. When we dropped by the day before show opening to get set up, we got a golf cart ride from the entrance to the NECA show hall which was at the other end of the convention center. The ride took some time even though the golf cart was moving along at a good pace! I think an aircraft carrier would comfortably fit in the convention halls…
Since it was a show for electrical contractors, the products and services being exhibited were diverse. There were a number of estimating software companies, many tool vendors, surge suppression manufacturers, lighting companies, vehicles, and more. DraftLogic was the only electrical design software being exhibited at the show.
Attendance was not dismal, nor was it what I would call busy. In the prior trade shows I have attended as an exhibitor, there was always someone wanting to learn about your offerings. When you are that busy, the day goes fast and you wish you had more time available to talk to folks. NECA 2010 had a few busy times, but the sum total over three days was a few hours of ‘busy’. The rest of the time we had to resort to mugging, which is what I call it when you have to approach walkers-by to let them know what you do and ask them if they want to know more. Regardless of the method of introduction, we did meet some great folks & many of them would benefit greatly from using DraftLogic Electrical.
For all you software entrepreneurs out there, my recommendation on exhibiting at trade shows is to do so…but with extreme caution about which shows you go to. An excellent show can make your year. To qualify as thus, the show has to bring large numbers of folks that fit your target market to the show and structure the trade show and other functions such that folks have time to and desire to walk the show floor and see your offering. The worst of the shows will do nothing but vacuum money out of your pocket and waste your time. You will go in ready for lots of great conversations and you will come out feeling dejected and ripped off! So carefully qualify shows by looking at costs and time versus who is going to be coming to the show, the quantity of prospects you think will fit your offering, and whether the show organizer is doing all they can to get traffic past your booth.
Lastly, do not be afraid to greet walkers-by with a two second catch phrase and question. It is costing you a lot to be at the show, you need to make the best of it. Make sure your question cannot be answered with a ‘no’ and that it qualifies the prospect as possibly a fit for your product or not. Something like ‘How many design-build projects did your company complete in the last 12 months?’ This gave Gerry and I all the information we needed to know if DraftLogic Electrical was going to be good for the prospect or not & also raised the interest of those that were doing design-build work.
Will we attend NECA 2011? Hard to say, which tells you that it was not anywhere near as good a show as we hoped for us!
Merry Christmas to all!
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