Why would anyone go to a trade show? Back in the day, trade show attendance was a must in order to learn industry specific information, connect with prospects, clients and influencers, and raise awareness of your company. In short, all things you can do, for free, over social networks and the Internet.
Yet, even when we've seen an industry roiled by free Internet alternatives (record companies, newspapers, TV networks), there still remains a nub of value in these media. I still listen to music, read news and watch TV shows. I don't, as a matter of course, attend trade shows, unless there is a compelling reason to do so.
During Q1 and Q2, I've decided to attend three shows, mainly because each reaches an audience I'm targeting in my marketing and sales roles- RSA Conference (security), Satellite 2010 (satellite) and FOSE/GOVSEC (government/security). There are plenty of others that gave consideration to (CTIA Wireless, Interop, HIMSS) but, given limited time and money, they didn't make the cut.
What are your plans for trade shows this year? Are you spending more or less time and money on a trade show program? What could trade shows do that would make it worthwhile for you to invest more?