Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Why the Era of Big GovCon Shows is Past...

Someday soon you are likely to get an email invitation to the next BIG THING, the GovCon event to end all events.

Be wary of such missives, regardless of where it comes from.

In the 1990s hardly a month went by when there wasn't some large IT focused event in DC: the Federal Computer Expo, the GCN Expo (Government Computer News tried it's own), ComNet, AFCEAs TechNet, GovTechNet (FCW & AFCEA), GovSec, Government Video, FedMicro, FedPro Expo, eGov, and many more.

Marketing budgets were healthy then, as real margins existed for both products and services. 

The shows were big, often fun, and occasionally useful. I have pens form those shows older than my children.

Then the shows started dropping off, one by one, until only FOSE remained, although it was far from healthy. Then FOSE passed away after 35 years.

But wait, on the horizon, son of FOSE emerges- ACQUIRE- a show with such a broad focus (federal employee info, IT products, home goods and more...) that it was doomed from the outset. It lasted only one year.

(There is nothing like an empty exhibit hall in prime time.)


The era of the big show is gone. Even if the contractors and the feds needed it, there are few available funds to support it. The margins are thin and federal audiences are more frugal with their time, going to events that offer specific information.

Small, very focused events have largely replaced the mega-shows for government contractors. Producers like the Federal Business Council. Digital Government Institute, and select others produce more targeted events. Hosky Communications produces events for contractors that target a specific technology audience. Associations like GITEC, ACT-IAC, AFFIRM and the Professional Services Council Produce excellent events.

FISSEA, out at NIST, produces an annual event for IT professionals inside federal agencies responsible for security training. They have their annual event in March, 2017- not too late!

Contract program offices sponsor great event: NITAAC, SEWP and Alliant have all held successful events for their respective contractors recently. If you aren't on one of these contracts you can always call and ask if you can attend to learn more and network.

National associations like HIMSS produce events where many feds will attend even though the focus is not federal.

Why? They are more focused. They offer great networking opportunities. They offer continuing education credits, and more.

Sponsorship may cost a fair amount, but you don't have to sponsor to attend.

Your marketing funds are limited, from the largest contractors down to those small companies. If you are thinking about exhibiting at an event or event sponsorship, be very careful with your selection.

Remember, someday soon you are likely to get an email invitation to the next BIG THINGthe GovCon event to end all events.

Do not share, forward or respond. Just delete it.

Comments are always welcome!

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