DAC is long over for 2010, and in the wake of that week in Anaheim, Calif., many questions remain unanswered. “Will attendance recover?” “Was that the last hangover Denali will buy me?” “What am I going to do with all these giveaways?”
If exhibitors are looking ahead to DAC 2011, they are likely wondering how to connect better with designers and understand how they can better help them. At Magma, we decided the best approach was to ask them, and what we learned in our post-DAC survey of attendees will (we hope) serve as a useful guide to planning. We’ll share what we learned –– well, some of what we learned.
First things first. The conference served Magma quite well this year. Almost every company exhibiting at DAC needs justification for such a large line item in the marketing budget and a means for measuring how well it delivers results. With that in mind, we asked attendees a number of questions about the show, about Magma, about what they look for at trade shows. As you might guess, we got a lot of opinions. At times they’re contradictory –– “Great booth.” “Your booth sucked.” That kind of thing.
We did get useful insight, and perhaps the most interesting bits of data were answers to the question: “What do you learn during visits to exhibitors’ booths that you can’t learn online or during meetings with the vendors at your company?” Answers were both honest and enlightening, and followed three themes –– community, company and products.
One respondent told us that networking and meeting other people is the reason to attend DAC. Another believes that a conference such as DAC offers new technology and idea offerings all in one place. Still another reported that meeting face to face is important.
To one attendee, even a casual conversation on a technical subject can often uncover new or unexpected information, and is easier than communicating through email. He believes that having time to talk in person at a place such as DAC affords the chance to cover more diverse subjects and gives him the ability to learn a great deal.
Two survey respondents wrote that they watched other attendees to see and hear their reactions to demonstrations and presentations. Yet another attended DAC to catch up on industry trends and see new products.
One observed that stopping by an exhibitor’s booth gives attendees a quick look at the latest developments, which is much harder to do through an online search without knowing the right key words.
Several attendees mentioned that they like the ability to compare vendors quickly, and to see the variety of solutions, not only those offered by the larger companies. One remarked that he could learn about new technologies that he might not otherwise be aware of. Another attendee wrote that DAC offered a means of efficient learning. This attendee got immediate answers to questions and was able to quickly compare similar offerings from other vendors.
Hands-on demonstrations by exhibitors’ booth staff ranked highly with another attendee, as does the opportunity to compare tools from different vendors. Meeting the actual developers scored highly with him as well.
Additionally, DAC attendees seemed pleased to be able to meet informally with company executives to get a sense of a company’s capabilities and future direction.
Seeing product demonstrations may be the most important reason for attending DAC. Our respondents noted that DAC offered a place where they could judge how well a product does against its competition and the direction a company is taking. They could see the usability of tools, new features and get deeper expertise in some tools.
An attendee wrote that the mix of both application and R&D engineers in one place can help get answers to almost any question. Another thinks that he got a great understanding of the real performance and usability of the flow/methodology that’s hard to identify just by reading documents or seeing a presentation. One other respondent echoed the comment, adding that the experience is something that can’t be created online.
While one attendee openly wrote that he most likely learned nothing, he conceded that meeting with an exhibitor face to face can be a much faster and more efficient way to learn about the product than searching a website.
Of the DAC attendees surveyed, 19 percent noted that they used traditional trade media websites and company websites for information and news gathering.
Our survey queried this year’s attendees about next year’s DAC. Forty-seven percent will attend, while 49 percent are undecided. Four percent said that they would not attend DAC next year in San Diego, Calif.
Our post-DAC survey proved to us that feedback from attendees is a great measurement tool. More important, it reinforced the ongoing need for community events such as DAC to serve as a way for attendees to learn more about a company and its products. The unmistakable conclusion is that DAC and other technical trade shows still have a role in the market mix. To be effective, companies should set specific goals, develop a comprehensive set of marketing materials and carefully train their booth team to be enthusiastic ambassadors ready to greet attendees with comprehensive product demos.
Smith’s experience as an executive within the EDA industry dates back to 1987. He holds a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University and Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of California at Davis.