Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Digital Marketing making an exhibition of itself at Ad Tech London show 2010 22nd September

“Gas Rings – Sentry Guards – Bored Pimps – the out to Lunch mob”

I suspect the UK’s most recent VIP visitor; Benedict XIV might discern that humility and sacrificial service are not virtues valued by the Digital Marketing community currently.
One expects the Pope might well include in his adversarial world of ‘aggressive secularism’ the buccaneer community of Digital Marketing.

Digital Marketing, if the Ad Tech 2010 show is anything like a representative showcase is now in it sixth year, is a brash environment of necktie-less young men and some tawdry young ladies employed as ‘eye candy’ to pull in the punters.
The exhibitors appear to see it as their mission to proclaim the answers to their own questions which if you are lucky are congruent with what a visitor may be seeking to understand.

‘Telling is selling’ appears to be many of the Ad Tech 2010 London exhibition exhibitors’ mantra.
Most representing their companies on the stands seem to view professional selling as a role below them.
Indeed the pre exhibition Marketing Cow Quiz quiz for the ad Tech show stereotypes visitors into knights, dunces, gurus and wannabees and the like.
A dunce the Ad Tech Show quiz defines (and I quote) as someone low on their career ladder who is destined to ‘end up in sales’.
Well as derogatory as that view is of selling, it did all too accurately describe the majority of people working on the exhibition stands that I encountered on Wednesday of the Ad Tech show at Olympia.
Many stood in enclosed ‘gas rings’ talking amongst themselves ignoring any visitor to their stand, or stood like a guard preventing entrance to their stand with their arms folded in a “They shall not pass” pose or some even sat down eating at the stand or drinking coffee with backs turned and body language exuding the message “ do not disturb -we are at lunch”.

Professional Modern Selling is unknown to them apparently.
When they dared to engage with an enquirer on their stand their primary motive was to scan your bar code on your lanyard visitor label or grab your business card. Listening to or asking visitors intelligent questions was, in the main lacking.
How well focused their subsequent offerings in emails and phone follow up to me will be I know not. I suspect I will receive some poorly prepared approaches and many will quite possibly be a waste of both our times.
Their elevator pitches were drawn from the same slops’ bucket of buzz words which they seem to think sound faintly business like but come over as mere marketing froth to most ears.
They all had their ‘platforms and architectures’ which enabled them to ‘leverage content and client web page real estate’ both ‘visibly and transparently’ by ‘deploying’ a variety of ‘tools’ which could ‘monetise solutions’. (Please pass the sick bag!)

There were one or two recognisably professional organisations and they stood out head and shoulders above the rubbish.

I suspect this remnant worked hard to earn good genuine leads from the show. The majority though, were dreadful.
Some investment in training would not go amiss to next year’s exhibitors and the reputation of the Ad Tech show.
If the digital world has genuinely revolutionised marketing why do they bother to pitch their wares in such an amateur way in a conventional and costly exhibition space such as London Olympia?

Modern selling is surely about ‘heart speaking unto heart’ – digital marketing is still an outpost of grunting Neanderthal barbarians, it seems.


  1. Hi Hugh,

    I enjoyed reading your article even if your conclusions did make me wince. I've paid my dues at the odd Trade Show or too. I always found the best results were when I invited targeted people to come meet me at the show rather than hope someone interesting turned up.

    My own personal pet hate is the booth blasting out a 'demo by megaphone' to a few rows of bemused prospects...and the rest of the auditorium. Utterly pointless I always though

  2. Thanks John

    Yes there was demo by megaphone going on at Ad Tech 2010 as well.


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