There was a post-mortem on the two trade shows (CADCON and CPM-83) in January, together with COMDEX.
There was a general failure to plan for moving things out on the last day of CPM-83. In the future our policy will be that at closing time of any show we have the Walkermobile and/or the Drakemobile to haul things. Either of these can carry our signs and large chunks of equipment, and is accompanied by someone who is supposed to know what's happening.
There was a poll on the value of the three shows. COMDEX was considered very valuable and successful. CADCON was thoroughly marginal, with a low turnout of not very well informed people; and we didn't properly exploit the chance for a good look at the expensive competition. CPM-83 was much like a Computer Faire; the management of the show was much worse, but there seemed to be a higher concentration of dealers and fewer obnoxious people.
Lack of preparation and discussion before the shows sometimes caused people to feel they were making fools of themselves, as in trying to demonstrate what turned out to be an unimplemented feature. On the whole, we do much better than other exhibitors in giving out accurate information at our booth, but there's still room for improvement. It was suggested that everyone who will be working a show should take the whole of setup day off, so that we can do a tutorial on that day, either before or after setting up. There was no real consensus on whether we have reached the point of diminishing returns, where we're good enough at shows that there's no point in spending more effort that might be useful elsewhere.
We seem to need an AutoCAD Jockey. Like Computervision and other companies, we should find people who are especially good with AutoCAD and make them specialists in making the product look easy and impressive. Jockeys might be recruited from within the company or from end users. Even if they can't go around giving demonstrations, they can create drawings and set up demos for other people. This was agreed to be a good idea, but so far we lack anyone to take on the job.
An especially acute problem at shows is the taking of orders for products. At CPM-83 the mechanics of taking orders were haphazard--it was hard to find a clear space to write on or a place to file things--and we ended up with many undecipherable orders. The ideal solution would be to have one person doing nothing but taking orders; but it seems impossible to do that in a ten by ten booth.
There was agreement on some suggestions: All forms, manuals, VISA slips, etc., will be organized in neat, possibly color-coded boxes. If we have no other tutorial session before the show, there will at least be an indoctrination on the ordering procedures. There should be a special order form with ``Take'' and ``Send'' at the top to indicate whether the customer has taken delivery of what he bought. There should be a clipboard or something to guarantee a surface to fill out forms.
There was a time at CPM-83 when there was only one person at the booth. We must keep at least two people in the booth without fail, preferably three at a show full of thieves, like the Computer Faire (four is a crowd). This means that we should have four or five people at the show at any time.
Editor: John Walker