Tradeshow traffic getting leaner?

At EDN‘s blog, this picture and post about a recent trade show:

I heard a rumor about a customer wondering around somewhere, but nobody could confirm it. Ok, that’s an exaggeration….sort of.

Chicago show last week

Ouch! Luke Schreier at EDN goes on to ponder the fate of shows for his/our industry, along these lines:

Clearly, the way the average engineer finds out about a new multimeter or oscilloscope has changed since 1998 (to say the least). The parallel might be akin to how weird it’s always felt for me to watch the work environment outlined in the AMC television series Mad Men, which is set in the 1960s. Seeing a workspace without a computer on it blows my mind much more than the “three-martini” lunches in that show. In this day and age, who wouldn’t go directly to the internet and search for “multimeter” instead of waiting months for the next big vendor exhibition to kick the tires?

My sales guy for a show last week was a little more specific, sending me this picture and comment:

Bottom line is I doubt if we get any good leads and making a sale based on a lead I would give a less than 10% chance. But all of the competition is attending, so do we go just to show the company banner??

Note the guy to the right yawning.
Note the guy to the right yawning.

So what is the B2Blog wisdom on this? We may have a problem.

Once of my favorite shows last year underperformed. This is a show we did gang-busters in the pit of despair that was 2009. I thought maybe it was a fluke, maybe we didn’t bring our A game. But if I start looking for a trend, maybe shows are waning more than we’d like to think, faster than we’d expect so late in the information revolution.

Unfortunately, that may leave it up to us company marketing wonks to develop our own events, as the human connection is so hugely valuable to business. Ugh. Something else neither myself or my company do well, if at all. Sigh.