Posts Tagged ‘Trade Shows’

I go to Oracle OpenWorld (OOW) in San Francisco every year because my PR and lead gen. firm, Marketingsage, helps data storage and data management firms market to the large enterprises that use Oracle.  Wednesday Oct. 5 was my day to visit the 2011 expo and this post takes a marketer’s look at the exhibits of some of the most innovative firms who were showing off their high performance storage hardware at the show.

This was the last day of the expo so you might expect it to be somewhat quiet. In my opinion is was far too quiet at any booth that was not front and center in the main hall or giving way a car, iPad, iPhone 5 4S. While that may be bad for exhibitors, it was good me because I got to see most of the high performance storage players. Besides the big guys like Oracle, EMC, HP and Dell, there were more start-up firms this year. Most of them paid big bucks for big booths.

I’ll give the award for biggest-bang-for-the-buck to our friends at GridIron Systems. They did not have a booth. They used a high traffic station in the highly visible Intel booth to show off their TurboCharger caching appliance. This device fit right in with Oracle’s “Big Data” theme because it accelerates (in real-time) the “hot data” that’s in-demand. Users do not have to put their Oracle database, or even the tables, onto expensive solid state disk (SSD) to get SSD performance. That makes the GridIron hardware somewhat special in the value-for-money department. I know all that because Marketingsage just started helping GridIron with its PR 🙂

Start-up, Pure Storage had a big bright booth and lots of people wearing their distinctive shirts. They also scored a visible spot in the Samsung booth. Their solid state disk is special because it uses real-time deduplication and compression to reduce the amount of data that’s actually stored on more expensive SSD. Therefore, they claim the cost of their system (when available) will be lower than purchasing hard disk drive-based systems for the same volume of data.

Fusion-io had the most visually impressive information walls backed by a mini data center. They also had some pro-active salespeople willing to grab passersby. I can respect that. Fusion was touting “a tier on a PCIe card” and they are getting some impressive Flash capacities on relatively small cards. The other vendors went out of their way to point out that this PCIe-based storage is not shareable.

STEC had a front row booth in the corner of the main hall. They had a small theater where they did a good job introducing their rather large Kronos PCIe card. They subsequently gave out t-shirts to those who filled in their sales lead survey. Customers can use a single STEC Flash drive to replace a hard drive in a server or they can array them for rack mounted enterprise environments.

Violin Memory also stumped for a big front row booth. Interestingly they only used half of the booth for meeting attendees. The other half was hidden and off-limits. Violin prefers to call its SAN-attached SSDs “memory arrays” and they see them as primary storage to be used in an “all silicon data center” without hard disk drives. Meanwhile, Quantum was at the back of the same hall proving that tape is still an important part of today’s data centers. I was impressed  by Quantum’s high performance StorNext system. It’s used to quickly ingest and provide shared access to REALLY BIG files, like satellite and geology images, and manages all of the storage complexity of  managing and archiving to hard disk or tape.

Our friends at TMS exhibited their SSDs at OOW years before some of the other SSD firms even existed. They had their usual spot in the middle of the main hall. And as usual, you could be standing next to the booth and not notice it. However, Oracle users seek them out. TMS had a small theater where their genuine Oracle Guru talked to Oracle users and developers about how to accelerate Oracle. TMS does not confuse OOW with SNW (Storage Networking World) and their no frill SSDs are always fast.

I went all the way across the road to see Kaminario in the lower traffic West hall. They had a small 10×10 pop-up booth, but they were getting their share of visitors. They probably deserve the runner-up prize for the biggest-bang-for-the-buck booth among SSD vendors. Kaminaro’s SAN-attached SSD lets customers choose DRAM and/or Fision-io’s Flash memory.

Nimbus Data Systems was at the show as well, but their small booth looked like a parking space. It was 80% sports car, 20% SSD. No, you could not win the car. I was laughingly told by another vendor you could win the privilege of sitting in it for a while.

We would have liked to seen WhipTail, SolidFire, Nimble Storage  and some of the other serious vendors of high performance enterprise storage systems. Alas, they were not at this particular show.

Other SSD Posts

If you like to read about the marketing of SSDs you can join the mail list for this blog (top left sidebar). You’ll get an email when a new post comes on line. Here are some recent SSD related posts:

Storage start-ups: What CEOs, VPs and VCs should know about the honeymoon period

A Strategic Marketing View of Flash Memory Products

About the Author

David X. Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management and enterprise software products. He can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join his network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).

How much did exhibitors spend on average in 2010 per face-to-face meeting at their exhibit? $276 according to Exhibit Surveys Inc. data reported in April 2011 by Exhibitor Magazine.

How much did they spend per attendee who entered their exhibit? $189, according to the same source.

The survey covered many different types of events, however those numbers are consistent with averages you might expect at IT centric shows.

There were some “High Tech” specific numbers reported:

  • Traffic density in 2010 was relatively high at 3.1 attendees per square foot of exhibit space. The average was 2.2.
  • The time spent visiting High Tech exhibits was also above average at 9.4 hours and 2.6 days per show.

My PR and lead generation firm, Marketingsage, offers Event Marketing, Trade Show, and Seminar Support Services because such events have always been an important promotional method for marketers of storage products. And although the cost-per-lead (CPL) is higher than for online advertising campaigns the value received is different.

A CEIR study once estimated that 78% of attendees are interested in products and up to 60% are part of a buying team visiting the show. Additionally, CEIR estimated that the average number of calls required to close a trade show lead was 1.6. This compared favorably with an average 3.7 calls to close a field sales lead. That’s why salespeople like trade shows (in their territory).

How do virtual trade shows stack up to the real events for marketers of storage?

In my experience, virtual shows have not stacked up in terms of the quality of the leads. However, the CPL is much lower, especially when you account for travel costs. I found the CPL was more in line with online advertising. But the campaign setup time and effort was significantly greater. I may change my mind on this at some point, but after my initial experience with virtual shows I concluded that there was too much work involved for the marketeers compared to the result gained by the salespeople. Additionally, I felt I could have gotten leads of similar quality with easier to manage advertising campaigns.

About the Author

David X. Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management and enterprise software products. He can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join his network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).

Logoed polo shirts are the de facto uniform at most IT events so it’s useful to have a convenient source that allows you to outfit the sales and marketing team at a reasonable price. A typical trade show requires 10 or so new shirts of different sizes for those on booth duty so it’s not always practical to order in bulk.

Queensboro is based in Wilmington, NC and supplies logoed apparel such as shirts, hats, etc. There are plenty of similar suppliers but I decided to try Queensboro in April 2011 because Marketingsage manages trade show logistics for clients so we source booth uniforms and giveaways.

Queensboro offered a good selection, low minimum volumes, reasonable prices and a convenient internet-based service. Additionally, they had a $2.95 trial offer for a polo shirt that included the logo, setup and shipping. That represented an almost free sample.

Samples are important because a Chinese definition of XL may not be the same as my US definition. Additionally, each logo is unique and you don’t know how the embroidery will turn out until you see it.

Ordering the polo shirt on the Queensboro web site was relatively easy. I choose a navy colored polo and uploaded the Marketingsage logo. I was immediately concerned about color contrast because the logo uses a navy blue. I noted that concern in a comments box although I noted that Queensboro allowed you to select thread colors as part of the review process.

A few days later I was able to review a “sample” logo on their web site. It was a simulation of what the logo should look like when embroidered. Frankly, it did not look very good, but a note reassured me that the embroidery usually looks better in real life. I requested a smaller logo and changed the thread colors to white (or at least I thought I did).

The shirt arrived about a week after I approved the design. I was disappointed. The threads were not all white. The “marketing” portion was a navy on navy (the picture below is brighter than real life.) I also did not like the “resolution” of the embroidery, but I could accept some blame for that if it was the result of my request for a smaller logo. The quality of the shirt itself appeared good and the XL size was generous.

Marketingsage logo

I could never use the shirt at a trade show, but that’s the whole point of getting a sample. You want to know about any problems in advance so you can fix them. Here’s where Queensboro fails.

I used the Queensboro system to ask about the thread color on my order. It’s possible I did not save the selection on the web page (although part of logo was white, as requested). I would have accepted some push back if that was the case. I never got a response. The satisfaction survey form arrived and again I noted the issue. No response.

For $2.95 I don’t care. Obviously, Queensboro doesn’t care either. At that price, they are already underwater on the offer. However, we are both back where we started. I could use a convenient supplier but I can’t trust Queensboro to get it right. At the time of writing Queensboro continues to offer one-time deals to attract new customers – http://www.queensboro.com/ref/SQRENCNOQMS

Queensboro’s customer support operation (if any) let them down by not responding at all… even to tell me that the issue was my fault or to point me to a new order form.

A side note: Queensboro’s automated email starts once you place your order. I think I got a promotional offer every day or so. I did expect email, but that’s way too many for me. I stopped opening them. I didn’t immediately unsubscribe because my order was pending. When I eventually unsubscribed I noticed an option to slow down the email, but at that point we were done.

If you decide to try Queensboro I’d suggest uploading a logo that uses the colors you want for each order. Editing artwork mitigates the convenience factor, but you can’t assume the thread color selection process will work for you. I’d also suggest using the logo size they suggest (or larger). As always, remember that embroidery does not work well for small logo elements such a serifs, thin lines, and overlapping colors.

About the Author

David X. Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes marketing data storage, data management and enterprise software products. He can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join his network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).