Did the Earth move for you? Well, it wasn’t quite that intense for me at Screen Media Expo Europe last week in London BUT it did feel pretty good!Now a seasoned veteran of several Digital Out of Home trade fairs (and others masquerading as DOOH fairs – see ‘Madness And The European Digital Signage Show ‘ posted October 2008) I finally took the plunge and swapped my ’Visitors’ badge for the more prestigious ‘Exhibitor’ version at last week’s event in London.
I must say that it felt much more like a much coveted ‘Access All Areas’ pass than just a stand-jockey’s badge.
More important than the free access to the conferences, seminars and the free tea and biscuits though, was the camaraderie ‘backstage’ and the feeling of belonging to a community which you get before the curtain goes up and the audience floods in.
You are always going to ask yourself “How much can I get out of this?: or “How much can I put into this?” – and, errr, well it’s difficult if not impossible to always calculate upfront a strict ROI on such a show.
If you work out how many leads need to become clients with that extra margin, you might be lucky, and you might also just get it wrong. You never know in advance who is going to turn up and what the long term effects will be – however, if you consider what you can put into a show like this, then you’re much more likely to be content!
Our industry is developing positively, but it still has a long way to go. We all need a place to pitch our stalls for an increasingly aware clientele, who have come to understand that digital is unique and not just a bolt-on to the poster printers and the slot-machine makers AND we need to continue to thrash out the issues of best practice, measurement and ROI until a clearer picture emerges.
We therefore need a specialised forum for debate as well as a market place and a meeting place – not only to attract new customers, but also to re-assure existing ones and to further improve our methods of communication.
This why this year I decided to commit to a stand and be a proper part of the show – Iconic Images  were on Stand B45, Ed
Although the show may always be dominated by the big boys with their snazzy screens and the sophisticated programming and the better widgets, any network is composed of screens, cables, switches and content so it is important that providers of all of the component parts as well as systems integrators are represented at such an event.
I have always been convinced of the importance of quality and variety of content, so I was heartened to see an increasing number of us content providers (and indeed from 3 continents!) touting our wares.
If I put myself in the position of a network owner – I would wonder what I can put on my screens before I invest, so we all have to be there to encourage and re-assure them.
We’re a small but important part of the DOOH eco-system (though I’m reminded often of a colleague who once told me that one of his clients was seriously convinced that he’d bought his images with the screens!)
In summary then, without any great expectations of immediate results, I was very pleasantly surprised by the traffic at my stand – although it fell short of the 200 leads mentioned by one exhibitor – what was he giving away?, Ed I had a constant flow of well-informed potential clients asking often quite pertinent and technical questions, as well as the opportunity of renewing existing contacts from all over Europe without having to travel everywhere (to meet them).
Several of these new contacts felt like genuine leads, and some have already been in follow-up contact, so that will please my accountant 😉
Overall it felt good being part of such an event at what looks like a turning point in the evolution of our industry, and I for one will certainly be coming back for more next year!