Well, I’m back from Vegas, thoroughly exhausted, but glad I went. I met some great folks I’d previously only “known” online, and some new people as well. I went to one great party and one really sucky one. I’ve already blogged the notes from some of the presentations I went to – I also went to others that were not as good, but decided not to blog those. And I finally got to experience Las Vegas.
I can’t say I learned anything completely new at BlogWorld Expo, but I did fill in a couple of knowledge gaps (thanks Avinash!) and also came away feeling much more confident about my knowledge base.
Blogging well is not rocket science, after all. You only need three things to blog: a willingness to commit the time to do it, basic writing skills, and something to say. Ideally, what you have to say is topical, focused, entertaining, insightful, and/or informative. And if you can combine all those with a flair for self-promotion, then you have a shot at running a successful, well-read blog.
(You might ask, if I know this, why isn’t my blog more successful? Easy. I lack focus.)
Although I think the show was generally a success, I think it suffered a little by trying to reach the biggest possible audience. With dedicated tracks for sports bloggers and political bloggers and military bloggers and “god bloggers” as well as a range of more general blogging topics, the show and the attendees were all over the place. If the goal was to pump attendance as much as possible in order to make the sponsors happy, then I can see why they’d choose that tactic, but if you’re going to do that, you need to build more into the conference program to help people connect with each other. Adding some “BOF” (birds of a feather) networking sessions, for example, would be a good start. Maybe a few “unconference” slots, or a demo pit for bloggers to show off their blogs. Heck, even an easy to find OPML file of attendees would help.
BlogWorld Expo’s show floor was a mixed bag. A few interesting startups – Cocomment in particular looks like something I should give a thorough test-drive (plus they had great swag) — but also a bunch of political / military booths, and a big pile of vendors who were all about either 1) adding content to your blog (widgets & feeds) and/or 2) monetizing your blog (mostly via ads). Since I was there with my “corporate” hat on, I wasn’t all that interested in either category.
One other thing that jumped out at me was how bad the marketing was at a significant percentage of booths. Now, trade show marketing isn’t easy. You have a limited amount of space and time in which to get your message across, in a space you don’t have a lot of control over, and generally without enough budget. Plus, odds are several of your competitors will also be there. Doing it well is a real challenge.
But still, this is not brain surgery here, and some companies really dropped the ball. For example, I saw several booths where the entire display had no clear statement what the product was. I suppose those companies though that if they used clever teasers they’d get more people talking to the booth staff, but I found it annoying. Another booth featured a poker table. Yeah, I get it, poker is a Vegas tie-in, very cute, but it seems to me the subtext you’re putting out is that doing business with your company is a gamble. Not the message I’d send.
And then there were the booths where a couple of different groups or companies were piled in together. It worked in the Military.com booth, where they loaned space to a couple of relevant non-profits, but when you’ve got companies that have no clear link to each other jammed into a booth with sloppy piles of completely unrelated brochures, you’re not fooling anybody. I am a big fan of the “if you’re going to do something, don’t half-ass it” school of thought. If you can’t afford a proper booth, find something you can do well within your marketing budget and do that instead.
(I didn’t intend to spend so much time writing about the show floor, actually, but there’s an outside chance I’ll be in a booth at Macworld, so I’ve spent some time recently thinking about the subject. I guess it’s rubbed off.)
This is getting very long, and I’m ready to call it a night. So I’ll wrap for now. I might add some more tomorrow, we’ll see.