A Tradeshow Experience For The Ages

Tradeshows are an important part of the marketing strategy for many businesses across industries today. My first experience as a tradeshow exhibitor occurred in my pre-Krengeltech days and involved selling business cards and personalized business stationery to dealers who provide printing services.

The destination was Las Vegas (the only place people would pay to attend an event like this). I had my best “fresh out of college” neck tie on. I think it took me about 15 attempts to tie it the correct height. I was teaming up at the tradeshow booth with another man and another woman – both of them probably were in there early 50s. Let’s call them Jack and Betty.

Jack was the semi disgruntled type who thought he deserved much better than his current job (somehow he just got left with the short end of the stick). Betty was a real talker who bathed in perfume. The tradeshow hours were long (something like 8am to 8pm) so various bathroom breaks were involved. It was late in the afternoon. Nature apparently had given Betty a call and she proceeded to head to the lady’s room. Booth traffic was slow so Jack and I decided to eat sit down on a chair in the booth. Upon returning from the bathroom, Betty took a seat in the open chair next to me. Not a second after sitting down she turns to me with a startled look on her face and says,

“Jeff, did you spill your pop on my chair”?

Looking down at the floor I see the cap tightly fixed on my 16oz Coke.

“Nope”, I replied (and now a bit confused myself).

A bit uneasy, Betty now decides to slide over to another open chair in the booth.

“This one’s wet too!” she exclaims (while proceeding to ask me AGAIN if I’m sure I didn’t spill my pop).

After pleading my innocence a second time Betty decides to walk to the other side of the tradeshow booth. At that moment both Jack and I noticed the 30″ culprit of Betty’s wetness problem: A long piece of wet toilet paper, tucked inside the back of her pant’s waistline, draped down behind her and flowing like a breeze in the wind. Apparently that piece of paper didn’t quite make it fully into the toilet before she had concluded her trip to the bathroom. At this point Jack simply said,

“Ah Betty? You have a tail…” while she swiped it away and began a new conversation without missing a beat.

In the Internet information age of today some companies are cutting back on tradeshow attendance. Now ask yourself, why would you want to do such a thing when you can witness lifetime memories similar to above? While not immediately measurable, the actual results of connections made at IBM i tradeshows and conferences has paid huge dividends over time during my tenure at Krengeltech. Nothing beats face to face interaction with both past customers and prospective customers. Here’s a picture of Aaron Bartell and myself attending a recent show hosted by System i Developer.

Did you notice how many people are lined up behind me versus Aaron? The red arrow pointing to me should hopefully make it more clear. I think I count four. This group of RPG programmers could not wait to hear what the marketing guy had to say about RPG Programming in comparison to Aaron – the RPG programming czar <complete sarcasm>! (What’s probably more accurate is I was offering tickets to be next in line to speak to Aaron).

In my next post I’m going to highlight the many outstanding IBM i conferences and tradeshows we’ve attended over the years. There’s a community out there you can plug into to take your IBM i skills to the next level as well as peers that may very well share your same desires.

Who knows, there may even be a similar toilet paper debacle coming up at a tradeshow or conference near you in 2012!

Stay tuned, my IBM i-loving friends.

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