Too Many Trade Shows?"

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SGIA CEO Michael Robertson on "Too Many Trade Shows?"

Published on October 15, 2010

In this video, SGIA CEO Michael Robertson comments on a recent article by Cary Sherburne entitled "Too Many Trade Shows?"

Cary Sherburne:  Hi, I’m Cary Sherburn, Senior Editor at and I’m here with Michael Robertson who is CEO of SGIA, and last week we were in Chicago at Graph Expo and I left the show and heard an article called Are There too Many Shows in our Industry? on WhatTheyThink and I understand you have some opinions on that topic. 

Michael Robertson:  I do.  Our focal point from SGIA has been that what we need to do is not have more shows but improve the ROI on the existing shows.  And the situation is where we’ve really past the adoption curve on digital technology.  So it’s a little bit tighter.  You know, it’s still a great positive for growth market but it’s not like it was a couple of years ago where equipment was being sold at a regular pace because technologies were being changed.  So we’re at a point now where we need to be more efficient.  So what we want to see is to take the stronger shows and make those shows even stronger.  So we’re out partnering with other associations.  Like here, for example, we brought in DSA, which is a focus on digital signage to help our members with the data maybe another avenue for this.  And in 2013 we’re planning to cohost  with Industrial Fabrics Association. 

Cary Sherburne:  Oh wow!  That’ll be great.

Michael Robertson:  And bring additional value that way.  And we feel that more shows is detrimental to the exhibitors and the North American printers don’t want it. 

Cary Sherburne:  Yeah, yeah exactly.  So I mean could you see in the future like one giant show like a DSCOOP for the U.S. that has everything? 

Michael Robertson:  Eventually, but it’s not going to be an overnight thing.  I do think that some of the major associations that need to come together and have one bigger show or maybe two bigger shows.  I don’t know if we’ll all fit together. 

Cary Sherburne:  Like a Spring and a Fall. 

Michael Robertson:  Yeah, exactly.  And we’re very open to that.  We’re interested in assessing that as an opportunity.  And it's like I say it’s not going to happen overnight.  And of course most important to us in this is SGIA and ISA which is a very friendly competitor to us, and these shows – and IFAI – they’re association trade shows.  A hundred percent of the money that they make at that exposition goes back into the community.  Not 20%, not 50% but 100%.  And that’s so important to the whole growth of the community.  So we really support that whole model and I’m sure going together we are all going to, as associations, what’s best for these communities.  We look at it more as a whole when it really gets down to it than we do our industries. 

Cary Sherburne:  Yeah, well that’s what we need to do is have a holistic view that benefits the suppliers who are really overburdened with all these events they have to go to as well as making it a lot easier for the printers because they need to see all the different technologies.  I was talking to somebody about, you know, just the express tech as an example.  You know, if you had Press Tech here in some kind of integrated show then maybe some sign printers are going to see that new 75DI and say, oh I could use that.  You know, and otherwise they would never know. 

Michael Robertson:  Yeah, we totally agree and actually we’re reaching out to the association that fit and we feel that we could do that with.  And I think that’s really the way it’s gonna go, but it gonna take some time and right now our goal is to kind of be the cornerstone.  We’re the strongest show in North America for the technologies to be marketed for this event. 

Cary Sherburne:  For this, yeah, for this the sign and display graphics. 

Michael Robertson:  Yeah, we’re the strongest one.  And we feel like that’s a good point for us to reach out to get additional support for that.  But the last thing the exhibitors need, the last thing the attendees need is yet another trade show in North America. 

Cary Sherburne:  Well, I’m glad to hear that from you because the journalists get tired of traveling around to them too.  So, we’ll look forward –

Michael Robertson:  I’ll let you to the list. 

Cary Sherburne:  Yeah thank you --

Michael Robertson:  The last thing exhibitors need, the last thing the attendees and the last thing the journalists need –

Cary Sherburne:  The journalists need, exactly.  So we’ll look forward to a more holistic approach in the future and lots of collaboration and cooperation. 

Michael Robertson:  It’s a different market and we have to adapt to it. 

Cary Sherburne:  That’s great.  Thank you. 

Michael Robertson:  Thank you. 

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By Steve Urmano on Oct 19, 2010

The noise level was so high on this video because the show was really well attended, and it was rockin' (ask Elvis!). I was there and the buzz was really something! As far as too many shows go, I agree, the (3) big shows we do commit about 65% of our marketing budget and really stresses us out. This leaves little dollars for small regional events.


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