Use your trade show attendance to boost marketing

How one Ontario solution provider is using its attendance at last week’s VMworld to educate and engage key customers and prospects.

Terry Buchanan, vice president of technology at Zycom.

Terry Buchanan, vice president of technology at Zycom.

One of the biggest complaints solutions providers state against attending vendor events is that the time out of the office is time not selling. And having a fresh and intriguing marketing message is another classic solution provider business challenge.

So what if you can use your time at the former to solve the latter problem? That’s what Ontario-based VMware partner Zycom Technology is doing. For the third straight year, it’s taking what it saw, heard and learned at VMware’s annual virtualization mega-event to its customers, and it’s doing so in a bigger way than ever before. Next week, the solution provider, which is heavily focused on “third platform” applications including desktop virtualization, is taking its show on the road, literally, to Mississauga, Kingston, Ottawa, and Toronto, to brief customers on what it saw and heard at VMworld in San Francisco last year. In past years, it’s done so on a more ad hoc basis, and done so largely on its own, but with the success of past years, it’s now able to bolster its lineup by having VMware Canada executive director Shawn Rosemarin present a keynote.

“It’s a good way to get clients a lot of value and education,” said Terry Buchanan, vice president of technology and general manager of Zycom. “It’s not marketing, it’s deep-dive, right into it.”

While this year VMware will bring its story through Rosemarin, the focus will still be on Buchanan’s presentation, with which he said he’ll focus on real-world applications of what he’s learned, and sifting out what’s real, and what will be real when, for the company’s customers and prospects. Although he’s a technical type by nature, Buchanan said the goal is to “have one of my four propellers spinning” and keep the presentation focused on the business value of some of the technologies to be discussed.

“I go to them with ‘this is what I heard on the floor, this is what our clients are saying, this is what other customers are saying,’ it gives me the opportunity to tell them what’s for real now, and what’s really cool, but maybe not ready for Canada right now,” Buchanan said.

While not all solution providers will be able to arrange a four-city roadshow with vendor executives on board after a major industry event, the success Zycom has had in events like its post-VMware updates is very repeatable for any solution provider that can make it to an event like VMworld, whether it’s presented in the form of one-on-one briefing for top clients, a Webinar, or even a post-event e-mail newsletter and blog post. It can be a big investment, or a small investment, and many times with a vendor like VMware, whose Canadian leader Eric Gales and channel leadership worldwide have been focused on a “we’ll invest in you if you invest in us” message, there’s opportunity to make it something bigger, something that can be vendor-supported, position your organization as an industry thought and vision leader, and close more business in both the short term and the long term.

“We’ve been growing our business by doing events like this,” Buchanan said.

It’s certainly something to think about when you board your next flight for a vendor conference – it might be worthwhile to take some good notes and make some plans for after the event.