How to Blow $200,000 On A Booth (IDIS)

Author: John Honovich, Published on Mar 26, 2015

The industry has more than doubled in size in the past 10 years yet trade shows are struggling to get the attendance numbers they once achieved a decade ago.

But one manufacturer is betting big that a mega booth at ISC West 2015 is going to make them a 'game changer'.

In this note, we examine their flawed approach.

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Comments (59)

Hysterical: A huge booth filled with guys from Korea who most attendees will probably avoid talking to. They'll make a big splash alright...sort of like a burial at.

The only thing I know is that IDIS is the OEM manufaturer of Mexican Epcom DVRs. Also their prices are higher than DIVIS (another Korean manufacturer, but with better software than IDIS) that manufactures a lot of OEM DVRs and it's always present in the ISCwest with a small booth.

you can find "DiViS" dvrs are made by TVT company from ShenZhen

It's easy to mock, and probably justifiably so. But if you look at it from their POV they are spending money on marketing to buy perceived credibility, brand awareness and recognition. Looking at their web site, I see average yet competent (looking) products that will not differentiate themselves other than through marketing. The trouble in a crowded market is nobody knows you exist unless you make a lot of noise--hopefully in front of the right people. By putting their sign right next to the market leaders there's a subconscious message sent to the attendees that's hard to shake--even among the cynics. Maybe not the best use of marketing dollars, but a legitimate use.

"There's a subconscious message sent to the attendees that's hard to shake"

Is it really that hard to shake? If the booth looks empty, what subconscious message does that give?

Is that 'subconscious message' over 2.5 days worth the $100,000+ premium?

Uniview did this same tactic last year. Were you able to shake it? :)


In isolation, this will be easy to forget. But if this will be in conjunction with $100's of thousands in other advertising, maybe not.

An ISC booth is like the superbowl commercial of the industry.

Worth the outrageous cost? Dubious. But in conjunction with real and extended advertising? Legitimate.

"But in conjunction with real and extended advertising?"

Have yet to see anything significant from them. What have you seen?

I have seen nothing. Do you think I'm giving them too much benefit of the doubt? ;)

Well, if they are going to do it, they should have already started by now. The show starts in 20 days and there are only 2 full weeks left before show week.

I tend to agree with Steve, but, to John's point as well, going with a smaller booth and then spending the saved money on direct mail, print advertising, and perhaps an aggressive sales program, probably would have been a more efficient use of their dollars.

I saw IDIS have a similarly large booth at Intersec in Dubai in January. I only remember them because they had a semi-impressive 4k camera display at one corner of their booth, and because I'd never heard of them before that show. The 4k camera itself wasn't that impressive, but the overlay of information and comparison shots was rather cool to look at.

If I were running their marketing organization I'd have gone with a booth half the size, and spent more on other marketing efforts at the show to draw people to the booth. But it's not my company nor my money, so we'll see if their gamble pays off.

The total booth/participation cost for a 2,800sqft booth to include: floor space, carpet, sign rigging, booth, booth assembly, power, freight inbound/outbound, show freight handling, flights, hotels, dinners, local transportation, marking material, etc. = $300,000 +

Thanks for the input. I felt I was conservative on my number, but better to choose a slightly lower one than be unfair in the criticism.

NP. Our booth is 800sqft with a total participation cost of $100k (note we own our booth). Tradeshows are a big bet for all exhibitors!

...floor space, carpet, sign rigging, booth, booth assembly, power, freight inbound/outbound, show freight handling, flights, hotels, dinners, local transportation, marking material, etc. = $300,000 +

Add-in another $50,000 for local, professional looking actors, paid to keep the booth lively; and ask the easy questions... Milling for money.

There is nothing worse than walking by a large empty booth with potentially interesting products. You feel like a target as soon as you step into the booth, 10 bored sales and marketing people standing around and you're the only "fresh target" they've seen in an hour. If you want to casually get a first level exposure to a product it's generally better to stand around and listen in on an existing conversation or demo and then kind of go from there.

Going in alone can be very undesireable, at least for me. At that point I'm not 100% sure what the company is all about (even if they have the usual Korean tactic of moutning every conceivable product they sell to a demo wall), and I'm not 100% what my questions are until I get a better baseline understanding.

They should have gotten a smaller, strategically located booth and spent the remaining cash on one of these:

It worked for them, I saw some decent traffic at their booth. Whether it was productive or not... that's the unknown.

Korean goverment, as well as China will pay around 50% of the international costs for exhibitions stands, so the $100,000 is a mear $50,000. Of course it's a gamble on return of investment, maybe a Red or Black wager for 50k would be equally as tangable for a ROI.

They may get a discount on the raw floor space. They wouldn't get a discount on booth rental, airfare, hotel, freight, etc.

People for example, you usually have something like:

$150/night hotel

$150/day meals

$600 airfare (domestic, more like $1500 for international).

$100/wk airport parking

$100/wk taxis

Each person can easily cost $2,000+ just to be in Vegas for 4 days.

A booth like that usually has at least 2 marketing support people, 5 SE types, 10 sales people. Then you usually have 4 or 5 from senior management there as well. 2 dozen people easily. That's about 50 grand just for the people.

it's a gamble... maybe a Red or Black wager for 50k...

Uh oh, looks like green. :(

It's funny, but you just don't see the 'take a chance' casino metaphor used much in security. Not sure why...

IDIS has been exporting capture cards and software to OEMs for well over a decade. I was successfully selling a re-branded version of their DVR around 15 years ago, until a much larger company than mine (Ademco Video, or Samsung Techwin, I don't recall) forced their hand to cut off some smaller OEMs. My point is they have been around quite a while, and maybe they wish to come out from behind the curtain. It is their money after all.

Adam, thanks for the feedback.

They claim $254 million in annual revenue, though evidently this is across what they consider 'branch companies'. 2 years ago when I asked them for a breakdown, here is what they provided:

I do believe they 'wish to come out behind the curtain' in North America. I just do not see this as a very effective way to do so.

Does anybody else offer NVRs with Gigabit POE on their built-in switch?

Though I can't imagine why they would...

I bet some of the exhibit fees are reimbursed by their government.

The US has a similar program for certain businesses exhibiting in foreign trade shows. Its likely that the Korean Government is helping to expand a local company to a big market like the US.

"Especially in North America, IDIS is literally unknown, save for the unfortunate similarity to the name of the ISIS terrorist group. " Really? ASIS is also similar :)

ASIS is also similar.

Let's just hope they don't consolidate trade shows with ISC.

How is ASIS pronounced correctly?

I've always spelled out the letters: A-S-I-S, ergo I have never made the connection with ISIS.

That's it!

To shake the unfortunate similarity, IDIS needs only to encourage the letter by letter pronunciation, I-D-I-S, through added punctuation I.D.I.S.

Pronounced AS-IS as in everything is as is. Well at least that is how I pronounce it.

Ross, a lot of people do pronounce it AS-IS but evidently that's not how they want it to be pronounced.

You can see here that the A-S-I-S president pronounces it A-S-I-S.

Trivia Poll Question: How do you pronounce ASIS?

I've personally only heard "as is" and have not heard anyone spell it out (until now).

IDIS is well-known brand globally. it may be only US where people could mix it up with ISIS. Though after this big booth US will remember their proud name.

"after this big booth US will remember"

No. No one develops name recognition from a single big booth even at a big show. Case in point, Uniview who failed with this same tactic at ISC West 2014.

Brands are built over time with numerous interactions with consumers / buyers, ergo my point that they should have spent heavily online to get US industry people familiar with their name and interested in going to the booth.

As it is, since they have near zero North American name recognition, they will overwhelmingly have people rushing by it on their way to companies they do know or briefly looking at the booth, puzzling who the company is.

'since they have near zero North American name recognition, they will overwhelmingly have people rushing by it on their way to companies they do know or briefly looking at the booth, puzzling who the company is'

Yes, if we're talking about old visitors. Though there will be hundreds of new professionals/companies who may look for new big name to pay attention too.

I agree, it could take more than one ISC West to become big in US, however they will attract lots of people anyway.

I'd love to work at the biggest booth of the show. Definitely it would bring more opportunities.

I have seen the Revo brand of cameras installed at mom and pop restaurants locally. They appear to be a Q-see, Swann, FLIR type of Costco/Sams Club style kit. That's my only knowledge of this company.

Congrat's to all who have posted. regardless of who IDIS are and what they offer they've just received a reasonable amount of free advertising with this post.

I didn't know who they were until now, as I suspect many others didn't but they are now likely to receive more foot traffic at the stand as well as more web site visits.

Unless their sales people or executives have appointments scheduled at the booth, their booth size really doesn't matter. If they do, then the large booth could illustrate a commitment to investing in this region. If not, then their traffic will consist of a few tire kickers and the empty booth will be depressing.

Good point.

Related, LinkedIn shows 5 IDIS US employees, including a marketing specialist hired this month.

Unless their sales people or executives have appointments scheduled at the booth...

Well if no one else picks up on that subtle hint Chris, I did... ;)

Oh I caught the hint :)

Booth size has nothing to do with committment to the region. You can spend $200k on a booth and still not have a strong regional support team, sales team, relevant products or long-term strategy.

As an example, many startups spend Millions in their first two years including significant trade-show committments, then disappear just as fast.

Does anyone know what their 'food court voucher' budget is?

You're a few years late for that free lunch!

sorry, my bad...

1st day of ISC West was generally quite busy, though not for the IDIS booth, with lots of people standing around:

According to this puff piece they're now "a major player in the US market". Because of the booth. I guess that's a wrap.

Well, that statement was from IDIS Public Relations consultant Benjamin Bryant. Also, he said that they were "ready to become a major player in this market."

CEPro article

Reacting to the crowds in the booth, Drummond notes, “We are very pleased to see visitors to the show share in the excitement we feel..."

Sounds like things might be getting out of control; someone may want to alert Captain Ferguson sooner rather than later.

Motivated by the # of comments on IDIS empty booth and marketing effort I did what most of us do first - visit the website. Good graphics and brief marketing videos but no "products" or even detailed "About Us" efforts to put forth a well designed and informative website, just smoke with no fire. Or ask they say in the southern plains region of the U.S. "All hat, and NO cattle".


Though after spending $50,000(?) creating a zipcode deserving booth, they should get their money's worth no?

"if they build it, they will come."

IDIS has announced its US sales team, show below:

Led by former BRS Labs VP Drummond (right), the team consists of a former Nuvico and Windy City Wire employees but two others that worked with Drummond when he was at Iron Sky.

Led by former BRS Labs VP Drummond (left)

The guy on the far right looks even more like Keith Drummond than Keith himself. ;)

Corrected, thanks!

Update: IDIS has a 1500sqft booth at the front of the ASIS 2015 show floor, not as big as their 2800sqft one at ISC West but still quite large. Evidently, they are still committed to spending heavily at trade shows.

Divide and conquer... Perhaps the other half of the booth is being shipped to ISC East?

They have blown another few hundred thousand at ASIS, admitting the error of their ways.

Protip: Never spend on a booth to build awareness, insanely inefficient tactic

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