iSecurity Virtual Trade Show Examined
On March 3, 2010, a one-day 'virtual' trade show will be held. Called the iSecurity Virtual Trade Show and run by Security Magazine / SDM, the event will allow people to log in from their computers to watch videos, chat with exhibitors and other 'virtualized' version of a trade show. According to the event organizers, the show will have up to 25 exhibitors including Axis, Anixter and Intransa (note: see their exhibitor overview). They expect 3500 registrations and about 2000 of those to attend live (which we think is feasible given that individual webinars for a single topic routinely receive hundreds of sign-ups). To get a feel for the 'experience of the show', view a 2 minute video overviewing the virtual trade show [link no longer available].
We think this is an interesting example in the evolution of marketing within the security industry. There's undoubtedly a shift to on-line but the important questions are (1) how much? and (2) what forms? will it take.
Ultimately, nothing can directly take replace the experience of meeting face to face but for those who do not need the physical element, on-line alternatives can become an important substitute. A critical element will be what a 'virtual' trade show can deliver - something we cannot assess until we see it ourselves live. For example, this virtual show does not have integrated two-way voice which may make in-depth conversations difficult and require initiating phone calls off-line.
The other interesting element is the much lower costs of the virtual show. As the exhibitor overview / sponsorship information form shows, the direct and indirect costs of a 'virtual' trade show are far lower than a real one (the basic 'virtual' booth is $4,000 and even the deluxe package at $10,000 is about the same price as a tiny booth in the back of a 'real' show floor). Additionally, there are no traveling or physical setup costs which add significantly to the overall expense of a physical trade show. Ultimately, what will determine success is the number of leads the virtual show generates. However, with much lower costs, the number of leads can be a fraction of a physical show and still be profitable.