Conventional wisdom says trade shows are dead, dead, dead because of falling travel budgets. Conventional wisdom also says social media is hot, hot, hot because listening to what customers and prospects want (and giving it to them) is far more useful and profitable than telling them what you think they should know.

So how about combining these two trends and offering a social media-style trade show, where the customers/prospects decide workshop topics and even help organize “unpanels” on the fly?  That’s what cloud aficionados did with CloudCamp, an “unconference” that began in San Francisco last summer and has since spread to Austin (April 25th), London, Singapore and Bangalore.

While this may or may not cost less on a per-head basis than a traditional trade show, you could keep costs down by down-scaling the venue and keeping it local (also saves on travel/time costs for attendees.)  Web services Pro David Neilson, one of several who dreamt this up says he’s been impressed by “The breadth of the support we are receiving from the grassroots of the cloud computing ecosystem, from local startups to large vendors, small businesses to large enterprises, individual consultants to large systems integrators.” If “support” means cost-sharing, that’s another great idea in a downturn.

And the value is you’d get much better feedback from a series of user-run “unconferences” from attendees (and draw more committed prospects) than a single big bang show where your marketing department came up with the theme. Any takers?

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email or call me at 508 725-7258.

Filed under: IT Marketing

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