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London calling

We chat to Incisive Media publisher Mark Burton about Channel Expo
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How has Channel Expo’s focus changed over the years?

As the technology industry changes, so does Channel Expo’s focus. We have witnessed the evolution from mainframe to client server to web and now cloud architecture. Likewise, our visitors have evolved since the first Channel Expo 12 years ago. There is a move away from box-shifting business models to more sophisticated provision of solutions, crammed with value-add. The show’s focus will, however, always be to bring together buyers and sellers in a focused, high quality, professional environment.

What would you is say the main job of the show now?

Channel Expo is a place for visitors to discover the latest products and services, and for our exhibitors it offers a unique opportunity to meet potential customers face-to-face to build on existing relationships and make new business contacts.

An ever-increasing key component of the show is offering training and business advice to our visitors through the education programme.

Is it more about showing new products, or networking?

I think it’s a mixture of both. The show gives vendors and distributors the opportunity to showcase their latest products, and also to get valuable feedback on what they are doing right and where they might be going wrong. The show allows resellers to keep up-to-date with new emerging technologies whilst also providing a stage to cultivate new contacts and catch up with existing relationships.

How important are the education aspects of the show?

The education programme is key to the visitor experience and each year it becomes even more important. This year we have two theatres – the Technology Theatre includes demonstrations from Google, Microsoft, IBM, HP and many more leading manufacturers who will demonstrate their latest offerings.

The CRN Theatre will host training sessions on increasing sales, effective marketing, credit and finance, sales techniques and other essential skills for running a successful reseller business. The training sessions will offer new insights, real-world examples, tools and templates that can be quickly applied and that are specific to the needs of reseller businesses.

Why did you move it to London?

This decision was taken after extensive analysis of both the show’s exhibitor and visitor database, and also because it opens up wider opportunities for our exhibitors.

Are you expecting a rise in attendees this year?

Last year’s official count saw visitor numbers the same as 2008, despite the global recession, standing at a little more than 3,000 for the entire two days. With the move to London, exhibitors confirmed and the education programme I would expect to see us up on 2009 figures. For exhibitors, it’s about quality not quantity.

What exhibitors are you expecting this year and what are the chief benefits to them?

Exhibitors that have already confirmed include A Server, BullGuard, Compellent, Fujitsu, Gamma Telecom, Gen-X IT, Ingram Micro, Intel, Kaseya, Microsoft, Norman Data, Ricoh and Sophos. Exhibitors benefit from being able to fulfil a number of sales and marketing objectives at the same time – lead qualification, market research, product launches and brand building.

I’d say the biggest strength of exhibiting at a trade show is being able to engage in the power of conversation with your target audience.

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The future of trade shows

With the current financial crisis, some firms may be looking to cut what they might consider peripheral expenditure. Andrew Wooden asked Mark Burton, channel publisher at Channel Expo organiser Incisive Media why the channel should carry on spending the money at trade shows, and how the Channel Expo is evolving.