Scobleizer Weblog

Today's Stuff Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Ahh, if Haloscan disappears all my comments are gone. Now you know why I won't use a centralized server anymore for storing my weblog. All my weblog stuff is stored on my desktop. It's backed up every night onto another machine and weekly onto a CD and carried off site.

Sigh, it looks like it's time to pick a new comment vendor. I was using Haloscan, but they've been mostly down lately and now I can't even get to their web site. Oh well. That means the anonymous jerks who often post in my comments can't post either. I don't have time for this...

By the way, the Tablet launch has gone super well. We survived a major product launch. Launching product is fun. All the questions you get are fresh. I've been spending a lot of time answering questions on web sites and newsgroups about the Tablet. Why? Cause that way they'll show up in Google and I won't need to answer them 50 more times later on.

Ahh, my boss's boss asked the other day why weblogs are important. Well, if you write every week for two years, eventually folks start linking to you (according to Google, about 400 people point here). When you get linked to, you get higher and higher on Google. For instance, if you search Google for "NEC Tablet" do you find NEC's official Tablet Web site? Not yet. I bet that now that I linked to it, its Google rank will start to rise.

First, my conference credentials. I've been to (or planned) CeBit, PMA, Comdex, CES, VSLive, TechED, some computer show in China that I forget the name of, and a variety of others (and these are just the technology ones).

In other words, I've been to more than my fair share of conferences and exhibits. I'll throw out the small minor ones for now, and focus on the really big ones. What would I do to win over the Comdex audience? (Alan Meckler asked for good ideas, and his goal obviously is going to be to get people to spend more time at his show than across town at Comdex).

1) Make it easy to find things. Invariably my boss has told me to "see XYZ company." It almost always is impossible to use the map and figure out the numbering system. Make it super easy.

2) Make a great map. Maps are almost always too hard to read, and when you get on site, the numbers on the map make absolutely no sense. For instance, one year at Comdex I was looking for some booth 25100. Where the F$%^ is it? I couldn't tell. The aisle numbers didn't make any sense and no one had numbers on their exhibits. Very frustrating, particularly when you have three minutes until you are supposed to be at a meeting.

3) Make it possible to find out "what's hot." I hate it when I get home from Comdex and my friends ask me "did you see XYZ product? Man, that thing is awesome." That pisses me off. The tradeshow newspaper is always written weeks in advance (and sucks anyway, cause it's nothing but paid ads. Why not hire 20 editors to write weblogs about the show and tell us what's hot? Link to them from the Meckler Weblog (which, already is bookmarked).

4) Start a secret party society. I'd pay $20 to get invited to "big name" parties. Spencer the Katt was always a great party, but you had to have invites. Why not charge for the privilege of coming to a party like this? But, make it worth it. Word will get around that it's worth it and subscriptions will keep going up every year.

5) Make it possible for new, and underfunded, companies to get noticed (and to come in the first place). In fact, give new companies extremely low rates to get an exhibit at your show (er, why not even go further -- make it free for any company that's never exhibited at Comdex or your show before). This will pay off next year cause they'll be addicted to your show, and they'll make sure your show is in their budget.

6) Make it fun. Every year I hated going to Comdex, but I loved going to CES. Why? Because of two things: 1) Games. 2) Sex. CES had a huge porn exhibit hall where they checked your badge and ID and then let you in if you were over 18. It was sorta hush, hush, but that part of the exhibit is a major reason CES is huge today and Comdex isn't. Also, CES has games and things that average people can see using (car stereos, video games, home stereos, watches, etc). Comdex got geekier and geekier every year. Boring.

7) Give us quiet places to meet. One way to get us to come across town is if you get a reputation for having plenty of places to sit, relax, surf the net, and visit with customers/co-workers. I'd even pay $40 a day for the rights to use a special "meet space" where I could tell my clients "hey, let's meet over at CDExpo meet space #5 at 2 p.m." If you do that, then you'll get people to come across town just to check out your show.

8) Guarantee that wireless access will be up and running. One thing that always infuriated me about Comdex is my cell phone wouldn't work and there wasn't 802.11 in the halls. Do a better job here than Comdex, and word will get around "go over to Meckler's show, his wireless works!"

9) Provide real-time traffic information and new kinds of information that never has been shown before. For instance, what if I could visit a central booth and see how many people are walking in each aisle? Maybe I want to see only those booths that have huge crowds around them. Maybe I want to avoid the crowds and try an aisle that doesn't have as many people.

10) Show me where to go to the bathroom. In this "central zone" why not show me a map of where all the bathrooms are, and the average waiting line in front of them.

11) Have a show radio station. Put ads all over town. "Computer News for Comdex and CDExpo showgoers at XXXXAM." Imagine having live radio reports. Tell us what's hot at both shows. Tell us where good free parking is. Tell us all sorts of stuff. Get us to bring our radios. Interview Bill Gates and Scott McNealy and other VIPs.

12) Have a restaurant deal. Anyone with CDExpo badge gets to cut in line in front of Comdex losers when out on town at night.

13) Have a "Meckler party" where folks who have Comdex badges on don't get in.

14) Have pavillions on things that Comdex is clueless about. At this fall's shows, Tivo and PVRs will be hot. Tablets will be hot. Wireless will be hot. Open Source will be hot. Microsoft will be hot (in a bunch of areas, so why not have a pavillion just for Microsoft). Apple will be hot. Cellular phones will be hot. Display technologies will be hot. Digital cameras will be hot. Home entertainment systems will be hot. Just check out Gizmodo for what's hot now. Have pavillions where people can come and compare the latest things in each of these areas. Comdex usually focuses on hardware. Why not focus on solutions? Softer stuff? The world in the future will be less hardware and more software.

15) Run the entire show on technologies from your exhibitors. And write about your experiences. If Apple isn't going to be at the show, make sure you DO NOT use Macs to do your brochures, signs, and maps. Then write about your experiences. The vendors you do use will appreciate it, and the feedback. Over the long run, you'll significantly hurt those who don't support your show.

16) Give vendors a much better lead tracking system. Allow vendors a lot more choice in customizing their lead tracking. Give attendees very cool badges that look cooler than those that Comdex is handing out. Everyone walking around is an advertisement for your show. Really push the edge here. Look at Disneyland's "LED badges" that light up in different patterns based on where in the park a visitor is walking or standing (yeah, they cost money, but again, badges will be "invasive advertising" that'll get seen on the Comdex show floor. Get people talking about the badges and "that other show."

17) Have your keynoters hand out cool stuff. Imagine if word got around that everyone who attends Meckler's talks gets cool free software?

Whew, that's enough for tonight. Anyone else got some ideas?

Alan, one thing: hire Doug Fox. He's the best guy I've seen in keeping on top of what's bleeding edge in conference technology.

Alan Meckler, responds to my earlier comments about his weblog and stuff. ALRIGHT! A conversation. Now I guess I gotta come up with my half of the bargain. What would I do if I were running a tradeshow that could potentially have millions of square feet in vendor space and hundreds of thousands of visitors? Do I want to speak? No. That'd ensure the conference's quick demise. More soon...

OK, Jake, what software did you use for the panorama photos of Dave's house?