WebLine. TouchWave. Selsius. GeoTel. NBX. Dialogic. Summa Four. All swept up by multi-billion dollar suitors in the recent acquisition feeding frenzy. Besides making their shareholders jubilant, what do they have in common?
Its showmanship. Yes. Good old-fashioned CT-glossary-thumping, unbridledenthusiasm. Sure, these companies all created cool products, but so did (and do) the marketing-challenged. The key is that these CT winners also made it a priority to get their merchandise out where end users, the channel food-chain, and potential corporate suitors could get a good look. Who bravely mounted the stage at CT Demo Fall 96 and 97 to do live skits? Who helped launch new, unproven trade shows in New York and Orlando? Who poured resources into
participating in our dozens of worldwide conferences? And who took front row seats at our now-famous Meet the Press Roadshows? The marketing, PR, and product management folks at these companies did.
As a producer of many trade shows and conferences, I soak in the good, the bad, and the ugly at every event. Youll find me cruising the floor stopping to see live demos, group presentations, and checking out the goofy
giveaways. I just do what the VCs, press, and suitor companies do (not to mention thousands of attendees). We look for excitement. And theres just no mistaking excitement. You can smell it. How can you miss 40 or 50 people, eyes transfixed on a cool demo or live presentation? Especially if theres a prize involved?
Sadly, a booth five feet away is empty. No demo. No presentation. Ambiguous signage. No clue. Like night and day. Weird, huh? This stark
difference the showmanship delta is the place where up and coming companies start pulling ahead from the pack. But showmanship does not equate with overnight success. Its just that all the companies who seem to make it have a clue about it.
Ive also observed that most every red hot company seems to have a constant dialogue with our conference staff. They dont wait until the last minute to pitch abstracts and topic ideas
for conferences. They all work eight to twelve months in advance. They pay attention to the call for papers on our Web sites. They visit frequently with our program and conference managers. They pitch educational programs. They corral users for case study presentations. They work it.
Typically, these are the same people who seem to have white papers, application notes, configuration tools, and other educational stuff available. Not to mention glossaries, demo disks, and
web-based videos. Sure, all this stuff takes an effort. But it gets attention. The attention of the press, users, shareholders, investors, and multi-billion dollar suitors. A commitment to education is one of the checklist items all these companies magically seem to share.
Looking back a few years, another notable distinction crops up in all cases. Winning companies all pretty much figured out, early on, how to deal with the press. When we called
for help, they jumped. Friday nights. Over the weekend. No matter. They were always accessible. They pored over editorial calendars and actually submitted articles on deadline tuned-in to the subject at hand. They did press swings. They regularly and dutifully trotted-in product managers, executives, and sometimes users.
If they didnt get the coverage they were looking for, theyd come at us with a different angle. And hardly any of them are whiners. They just
keep plugging away. Submitting tips for sidebars. Sending e-mails to suggest new ideas. Faxing new glossary terms. Paying attention to press badges in their booths at shows. Doing fun stuff. Evangelizing.
Now youre probably just finalizing your budgets for the year 2000. Is participating in conferences worth it? How about trade shows? Should you budget T&E to send folks to Miller Freeman / CMPs Meet the Press Roadshows? Think about it. Let me know if you need
help deciding. Ill evangelize you. Youll be converted. Or not.