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Shows give business users the opportunity to see a wide variety of products and services

Showcase serves up high-tech atmosphere for all

The Computer and Technology Showcase being held Sept. 1-2 in the Mississippi Trade Mart in Jackson is one of 22 annual Computer and Technology Showcase events. Jackson joins such business hubs as Atlanta, Denver, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Nashville and Calgary in hosting the event.

In addition to exhibitors featuring a variety of computer and technology products and services, each event consists of a computer and technology trade show, a computer and technology conference, an Internet expo, a high-tech career fair and other special events. These shows give business users the opportunity to see a wide variety of products and services from regional and national suppliers all in one place at one time.

Linda Struble, show manager, said that the Computer and Technology Showcase maintains a strong relationship with many associations, such as those for purchasing managers, and that many attendees hear about the Showcase through those associations. “Members love to go to these things, because they know they have something in common with everyone there, and they like anything that might be educational about their field,” Struble said.

One reason that this trade show is so popular with members of association partners, she said, is that in addition to getting a free booth, members get a computer disk listing attendees for follow-up marketing, a very popular item, according to Struble. “They’re calling for the disk if it’s just two weeks after the show!”

The Computer and Technology Showcase is expected to draw information technology managers, systems specialists and senior corporate managers — anyone involved in evaluating, recommending, purchasing, approving, installing and maintaining technology within an organization. “It’s bigger than it was last year,” Struble said.

The seminars offered to attendees set this trade show apart somewhat. Seminars are offered on distance learning, networks, e-commerce and software applications that make businesses run more smoothly. Exhibitors love the opportunity to inform such a powerful group about their products and services, Struble said. “We have a lot of things that a lot of the trade shows charge extra for and we don’t, like the seminars.”

Struble said that this year’s event provides even more exposure for exhibitors. “A new thing we have this year is a hot link — everybody that exhibits, if they have a Web site — we give them a hot link from our site to theirs.” Exhibitors can use the hot link to promote their company or even to post jobs, Struble said. “We keep it a month or so even after the show, too.”

Bo Whittington, president of Convention Display Service said that trade shows are an excellent way for companies to gain exposure. “A trade show is nothing more than another factor in the marketing process. It’s just part of the marketing mix that any company should do.”

Because of the concentrated, often qualified attendance, trade shows often result in better contact with potential customers. “You’ve got a concentrated bunch of people. You can see 50 people in one trade show, as opposed to making 50 calls elsewhere.” Convention Display Service is considered a “trade show decorator,” the folks who set up the convention hall with booths and display areas for exhibitors to use.

Whittington said that it isn’t always necessary to have a flashy display. “It depends entirely on what someone is trying to accomplish at that show. If someone is just wanting to give out brochures to every Tom, Dick and Harry that walks by, you want something that’s going to get people over there, you want something that’s going to be a real eye-catcher. Then, if you’re trying to talk to some selected buyers who are going to place large orders, you can have a very subdued, reserved, sophisticated booth set up and accomplish that.”

Struble said that she’s pleased with the exhibitors participating in The Computer and Technology Showplace. In addition to firms specializing in hardware and software, there are telecommunications companies, audio-visual businesses and several computer-user groups. The Cisco Users Group and “Mudbug,” a Microsoft users group will be represented.

Other exhibits include businesses specializing in specialty cabling, computer and technology educators, office supply companies and businesses that provide printer, copier and other image hardware, software and technical support.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Kim M. Campbell at kim@datasync.com or mbj@msbusiness.com.

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