I recently spent a day in our State Capital (Annapolis, MD) seeing our legislative process at work. I spent some time with a panel of lobbyists who talked about their role in pushing—or killing—legislation that might affect their clients. The truth is that our state legislators draft up to 3,000 bills in one 90-day session; the Governor will sign between 600 and 800 into law. The lobbyist’s job is to educate lawmakers about the pros and cons of each bill because, in their words, one person cannot know the details—and “unintended” consequences—of 3,000 bills.
Here’s what they said to remind me of the power of tradeshows: the legislative process is designed to invite feedback from citizens, corporate reps and any other stakeholders. To do that we may phone their office (unlikely we’ll reach the lawmaker), send a letter (most likely intercepted by staff) or we show up at the senate office building and grab five minutes of our representative’s attention, face to face. “When you’re trying to influence decisions, nothing beats face-to-face…by far,” agreed the lobbyists.
Sound familiar? Those of us in the tradeshow business believe that to our very bones and that’s why tradeshows are and continue to be a great investment. If you’re selling something, nothing beats face-to-face. If you’re buying something, nothing beats a hands-on demo. Web, phone, letters can pique someone’s interest; a face-to-face pitch seals the deal.
So before you cut any resources for tradeshow exhibiting or attending in the upcoming year, think about the cost—and unintended consequences—of missing all those valuable face-to-face meetings.