Would you rather have an introduction, or a date? The booth is the introduction. The exclusive meeting, even by telephone, is the date.
As a form of marketing, trade shows are different from phone calls. A trade show provides:
- Name identification (awareness of the brand - There's a Zunbar Industries out there?)
- Positioning (Ah, I see Zunbar Industries makes the first H.266 camera!)
- Implied success (Wow, Zunbar must be doing pretty well, their booth is GINORMOUS!)
- And dozens of other little things like what kind of company it is. Are the booth attendants in business attire, or dressed down? Are they slick salespersons, geeky engineers, or booth babes? Are they standing on the edge of their carpet, facing outward, hands out of pockets, smiling and easy to approach -- or are they clustered together in groups, playing with gadgets, looking at their phones and giving every impression they don't want to be there?
All of these things can be accomplished at a trade show without even talking to anyone in the booth. If all that works, a quick meeting can then take place and some preliminary information can be exchanged for an exclusive meeting later. A trade show is not the best place for an in-depth business conversation. Sure, some booths will incorporate private meeting rooms but this is not common.
In my opinion, the number of leads generated is not a good measure of a trade show. I could generate more leads with a Zunbar Industries tabletop display than the largest booth in the show. If number of leads is all that matters, some trade shows will sell you their entire registration list after the show -- no booth required!
A telephone meeting is a different thing entirely. It is private, exclusive, and implies an interest in the lead's doing business with me. It is the next step in the process of gaining a new customer. Sure, the whiz-bang impact of my horrendously expensive trade show appearance isn't there. But the purpose of all that was to get the meeting. Now that I have that, I no longer need the trade show. It would be like being invited to interview for a job and responding by sending your resume.
And don't Google H.266 -- I made that up.