The Fall of Live Trade Shows and the Rise of OnDemand Digital/Virtual Trade Shows & Self-Service Buying – Faster, Easier, Better

Quick summary – Live trade shows are fixed in time and generally don’t meet customer buying cycles. While, virtual trade shows are available like movies ondemand almost anytime and importantly from anywhere for one or a team of evaluators, decision makers making the process faster, easier and importantly for the provider dramatically reduces costs and increases and accelerates revenues. And if you still want to do “live” shows, simply do both – continue with your “on the road” schedule and offer virtual ondemand trade shows between the dates when you are live. For trade show producers, do the same offer your customers both. Like in candy bar marketing of Mounds and Almond Joy “sometimes you feel like a nut and sometimes, you don’t.”

Additionally, customers are increasing wanting self-service buying options and live video selling streaming provides this option. Click on image for complete presentation. In this webinar, much of our own research was confirmed.


No one would deny that trade shows are expensive and getting more so with space, travel, rooms, marketing and other costs mushrooming. Live trade shows are seen by some as being the best way to make real contacts, demonstrate products and provide the opportunity for business networking across companies and professions. Yet trade shows do not often provide immediate sales as the visitors to the booth are not decision-makers, they are low/mid-level researchers/analysts sent to gather information and sometimes give “show reports” on potential vendors/partners, etc.

Looking into the future live trade shows like the vast array of “niche retail” companies (like the death of Bed, Bath & Beyond, RadioShack, and others) who have gone or are going out of business. Importantly, higher level decision makers simply don’t go to “trade” shows, as they are focused on other forms of networking in the financial/investor community, meetings with C-levels of strategic customers about M&A along with industry lobbying groups for increasingly legislative, regulatory and compliance impacts on their business. Moreover, since live trade shows are fixed in “time” they quite simply rarely meet the buying cycle of customers.

Conversations with MSPs

These are some of the comments from more than 25 conversations with MSPs not a survey but just conversations about what “pisses them off” not about politics but about vendors and channel issues. One MSP who preferred to remain anonymous said, “all the fancy videos and pics showing all people having a good time at the trade show is really insulting to most of us who can’t go, wish the vendors would think about that ! My team is too busy supporting more than 1,000 customers to travel to places they really don’t want to go to like Vegas. I have asked them and they want more time off, bonuses to supporting growing families and personal lifestyles. They are interested in keeping up and are interested in having events “ondemand” on their schedules not vendors. They also don’t go to webinars during the day when they are out with customers or solving customer problems.”

Another MSP said, “our customers don’t ask us about trade shows, they expect us to know everything about everything they need or may need and expect us to be able to explain what they need in business, not techno-babble, as they know the smartest person has the simplest explanation. We do go see critical providers at their business to be able to see all the people we need to see, not just a person at a trade show who does not often know anything we need to know. So no, we don’t go to trade shows as they also don’t fit customer buying cycles along with technology changes faster and faster and we need to know more faster than ever. Though we do like the idea of virtual trade shows as the whole team can go.” Another MSP said, “we don’t want free trials, we want ‘sandboxes’ we can test with our entire team and others. We don’t go to lunches, after-hour nonsense, tours, and most webinars. We want sales on our terms not vendors and they should know we represent customers.”

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To understand the buying cycle of customers requires an indepth look at how they operate in all their decisions. Simply put, the larger the organization, the larger the committee and advisors to the committee making a decision on a vast array of immediate and long-term projects. Larger companies also want see presentations by many members of the vendor(s) executive team to assess present product integration with operations, service delivery, future product direction, compatibility of company direction, financial resources (to avoid having a vendor go under and having to find a new one), customer service, competitive and other company specific questions. The vendor may think they do but they will never know all the people on the decision making committee which are often not ever mentioned but have considerable impact. Without going into all the myriad of issues, live trade shows simply do not represent the most effective means of gaining and even more important – retaining customers.

Drilling into the Details

Most companies already have trade show booths, some like this one Courtesy probably cost hundreds of thousands and thousands to transport, setup and outrageous expensive booth space itself. Then, transported back and stored in a warehouse. Instead of storing it in a likely expensive warehouse, move the trade show or part of it into an office space (there maybe some excess office space in one or more cities due to most everyone working from home these days).

Set up the booth and have it available “on demand” schedule for customers to schedule. When called upon, sales, technical, provisioning, procurement, finance, engineering and who knows even the CEO and C-level staff can be available for demonstrations and discussion. Customers can select from the staff they want to talk to and bring one or the team to have a meeting. The benefits are many.

And if you still want to do “live” shows, simply do both – continue with your “on the road” schedule and offer virtual ondemand trade shows between the dates when you are live. For trade show producers, do the same offer your customers both. Like in candy bar marketing of Mounds and Almond Joy “sometimes you feel like a nut and sometimes, you don’t.”

Customers don’t have to wait for, travel to, walk through vast complexes to wait in a line to discuss what they are looking for with booth staff which is generally sales and not often the person they really want to talk to. The provider can with some experience learn more about what customers are really looking for, having the right staff who generally can’t go, won’t go, are too busy, on vaca, or many other reasons to meet with all the customers they need to to make the customer understand the solution.

Virtual Events – Video News Networks – Channel Solutions Market Platforms

ChannelMarket.TV provides ondemand virtual/digital trade show solutions anytime from anywhere meetings and events. ChannelMarket part of the ChannelPartner.TV network brings all the vast multi-channel live and ondemand video streaming, video meetings, website “Doorbell”, text to video, CRM, LMS, digital business cards, surveys, advanced calendar with “action-icons”, trouble ticketing system and more together with a focused solutions marketplace.

No high ongoing fees with no fees at all, no complex rules, no “ads-first” advertising, no muss-no fuss approach to solutions selling and marketing. Look at AppDirect, Telarus, Intelisys, Amazon and the others and you will find this easier and vastly less complex and inexpensive. No other person has the Linkedin presence we do as the Owner of the Largest Linkedin Group for MSP/MSSPs with a growing presence of 30+K including personal profile.

Stay competitive by maximizing customer contact to not get “Amazoned” by competitors who offer both to customers.

We make money by producing video sales flyers, webinars, and building customer video and virtual trade show platforms so this is all good for everyone, not by ripping off startups and growing companies and giving them help to compete against larger players.

If you want to be first in your category or promotion email – lets talk and discuss special BOGO’s and incentives to accelerate your virtual presence. And, for those who want their own streaming platform, there is an additional BOGO of 3 more more monthly videos for free with the platform.