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Setting the Pace for a Strong Year

Christian Wissmuller • EditorialJanuary 2020 • January 13, 2020

“If someone tells you trade shows are yesterday’s news, they are making a gross miscalculation,” wrote Henry DeVries in a May, 2019 Forbes article. “When I ranked marketing tactics during a ten-year lead generation study I conducted, networking at trade shows finished in the top five. The best marketing tactics are educational in nature, and a trade show lets you educate prospects face to face (or ‘belly to belly,’ as one of my mentors used to say).”

The 2020 Winter NAMM Show is upon us (many of you are likely seeing this issue of MMR for the first time in Anaheim) and few gatherings provide as compelling evidence to support the views of DeVries and many others who believe in the enduring value of trade shows. While this convention is one of the largest international MI shows – last year’s NAMM Show saw 115,301 attendees and over 2,000 exhibitors (for comparison: 2019 Music China hosted 2,414 vendors and 122,519 visitors; last year’s Musikmesse reported 1,606 exhibitors and over 85,000 visitors) – the numbers, alone, don’t fully capture why this trade show remains relevant. While there’s no question that more and more organizations, including those in MI, are relying on digital mediums to attract partners and conduct business, the aforementioned “belly to belly” dynamic of actually sitting across from a dealer or supplier and conversing face to face, or finalizing an order or sealing a deal over a cup of coffee or drink at the bar simply cannot be realized via Skype or FaceTime. As David Day of RBI Music described last winter’s NAMM Show in our February issue, “[it] was like a big family reunion! 2019 seemed to be another great year for the NAMM Show, with a lot of great performances and new products.”

Allen & Heath’s Jeff Hawley spoke directly to the positive impact the gathering can represent for business: “We expanded our booth footprint substantially, and could have gone even bigger given the steady traffic we saw over the course of the show. It was an amazing way to turbocharge the brand early in the year and set the pace for a stellar 2019.”

Trade shows, such as NAMM, offer unique opportunities wherein “all the pieces come together:” clients, partners, competitors, and industry experts. Deciding to join your peers in California each January represents no insignificant commitment of time and money (the latter considerably magnified if you’re an exhibitor), but for many, the benefits that emerge from having those human, social interactions and the chance to gain a more accurate feel for the market by networking with prospects, clients, and competition over the course of a few days is invaluable.

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