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Tradeshow Season – WestPack, MD&M, ATX, D&M and Plastec in Anaheim

Last month I attended the WestPack, MD&M, ATX, D&M, and Plastec combined manufacturing Expo in Anaheim, California. Who wouldn’t want top go to Anaheim in February, especially if you’re from the East coast? So, everyone was happy to be at the event, and it was very well attended, with around 1,500 exhibitors and thousands of attendees. The opportunity to attend educational seminars and speak face-to-face with people in the various industries was a highlight. However, as I walked the rows and rows of exhibitors the companies tended to blur as there was often little to distinguish one packaging company from another, or one medical device company from its competition.

Many large manufacturers, with the oversized booth spaces, did the best job of having all hands on deck to fully engage with the crowd. One even resorted to having it’s staff dressed in circus costumes, with one person dressed as a lion, one as a clown, and one as the ringleader. I don’t recall the name of the company and their products and services have nothing to do with a circus, which is the problem with such attention-grabbing stunts. It’s like those Super Bowl commercials that make us laugh but the brand isn’t remembered. If I were spending what they did for the space, I may have resorted to a circus theme too!

To be an exhibitor at a tradeshow requires a great deal of preparation and expense. Aside from the booth creation costs, the Expo booth rental space, sell sheets and branded premiums to hand out, there is the staff time to be out of the office, hotel, and travel expenses, etc. It’s no wonder that by the afternoon each day the staff is often found on their cell phones instead of actively talking to attendees. I’ve been on that side of the fence and it’s exhausting. And if you pull the short straw and end up in a less desirable location on the Expo floor your investment may provide a poor return, as I heard from several exhibitors.
Given the cost of these events it’s no wonder that many manufacturers have shifted their tradeshow budgets to website marketing. And for those with the budget to add website marketing to their tradeshow budgets there is a multiplier effect when web marketing is added because it makes the lead nurturing process easier. Given the high acquisition cost for each lead at a tradeshow anything that can improve the conversion rate is important. For most manufacturers their products are not impulse buys and there is a long lead time in the decision-making process.

For about the same investment in one tradeshow, website marketing can provide a year’s worth of awareness for your company – working 24/7 on your behalf. And you’ll never find your website on a cell phone when it should be paying attention to your prospects.

I met people across the USA, as well as people from France, Mexico, and Vancouver, BC. People were very friendly and eager to explain how their product or service was unique in helping to solve the challenges of their customers. One of the things I enjoy most about these shows is the new information I can bring back to our team and to our customers.
For the exhibitors the purpose of the event was to find new customers while the attendees wanted to find vendors who could fill a need to move their own businesses forward. Unlike some shows I’ve attended, the traffic flow inside the Expo was nearly constant the two days I attended.
Tuesday night after that day’s Expo ended there was a live band who played 70’s and 80’s songs in the outside part of the venue and they were great. World Tour Legends of Rock.
The three day event also included various seminars and other learning opportunities. The medical device manufacturers and speakers were especially compelling as that is a constantly evolving industry. One keynote speaker spoke about how the operating theater/room of the future will likely consist of virtual doctors from around the world, the experts in their field, connected together virtually to observe the patient and to direct the procedure, which I assume will be done robotically.

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