First Trade Show

Had my first experience exhibiting Purlem at Print13 last week. In fact, it was my first time exhibiting Purlem at any trade show. For those unfamiliar, Print13 is the largest trade show for print providers in the country.  Being that many Purlem users are printers, I thought that it would be a natural fit. My thought was – if this trade show ends up being a flop, then no trade show would work for Purlem. I left the show with a slightly different perspective.

Purlem Print13 Booth

I knew going in that it would be hard to justify the costs of doing a trade show.  With Purlem’s prices being so low, I would need to acquire a ridiculous number of new users to justify the expense – which was, by the way, about $10,000 all-in. But I wanted to give it a shot.  There was a last-minute booth available at a good price, and McCormick place is just a couple blocks from my home, so no travel expenses.  Seems like if I were going to feel out the trade show waters, Print13 would be the best option.

The first day of the show I tried to stand in front of the booth and engage people as they walk past.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that a majority of people walking by had no use for a product like Purlem.  They were there to purchase printing equipment and could care less. I was surprised with how much twiddling of thumbs happens. Not just at Purlem’s booth, but at most other booths around me.  What a waste of time! So, after the first day, I resorted to sitting at the booth and working until somebody stopped by. It was very encouraging that those that stopped by, were very impressed by Purlem.  I got a lot of “This is exactly what we have been looking for.”

photo 2

I also created a fancy landing page, that I showed in my last post, which allowed people to register a free 30 minute consultation. You know how many people used that website to register – 0.  A big fat 0.  I did, however, get about 30 decent leads and scheduled several follow-up meetings via email.

There was also the intangible value the show provided.  I met with a lot of very interesting people, industry leaders, and Purlem users.  Being at the show certainly helped to solidify these relationships, and it’s hard to place a monetary value on that. The #1 bit of feedback I received was that Purlem’s prices were way to low. I received this feedback from several people, including existing Purlem users.

I left the show realizing that Print13 was probably not the best venue for Purlem.  But at the same time, I can see how some other, probably smaller, more marketing-focused shows could be quite effective. Being at the show also helped me to come up with some pretty cool ideas for ways to better engage attendees, as opposed to just sitting there working, or being a creepy sales guy.

So all and all, I think I’ll call it a wash.