Kodak’s 'No Show' at Trade Shows
The latest member to join the exodus from IPEX is Kodak, which says it is also shelving plans to attend Print 13 this September. The company says it will make not attending mainstream print trade shows part of its standard operating procedure.
Industry observers will recall that this is not the first bold trade show move by Kodak. Almost a decade back, when On Demand was still an important show, Kodak announced it would not have any of its big print engines on the show floor. “How can Kodak not have equipment at On Demand?” the critics roared. Competitors were quick to point out that maybe it was because there was nothing to see. But Kodak stayed the course and even at Print 05 their stand was a largely equipment-free zone with an emphasis on workflow tools and software integration. A mistake, perhaps, given what has transpired since then, and there has been Kodak equipment at most shows over the past few years. People do, after all, come to shows to shop and kick tires.
But now Kodak pulls the plug entirely on the big shows—or at least the next few—claiming it’s getting harder to extract the value from the big venues. They are hardly alone in that thinking, as evidenced by the numerous exits from IPEX, and how most capital equipment purveyors confess to difficulties in measuring the real ROI of shows.
Despite what the company claims, budgets certainly play a part in this decision. Shows are expensive, requiring big checks up front. Kodak says it sees a better return from bringing more prospects to its demo center in Rochester, NY and stroking customers at GUA, the company’s user association. The question is whether this is enough.
It might be, at least in the near term. But, in my opinion, show attendance won’t make a difference either way in the company’s long-term fortunes. I’ve been to the GUA conference a few times and it has a positive vibe, solid content, and enthusiastic customers. It’d not unlike HP’s Dscoop extravaganza, just on a much smaller scale. As for prospects, the sales guys schlepping DigiMaster, NexPress, VersaMark and Prosper can fly them to Rochester to test-run jobs and talk money. That’s what Canon/Océ does in Boca Raton, FL, what HP does in Atlanta and what Xerox does on the east side of Rochester. It works. And Kodak certainly has enough tame customers who will eagerly host prospects to help the company make the sale.
So is bailing out on shows a good move for Kodak? It very probably is. But I’ll miss seeing them on the show floor.