My prediction of the death of tangible collateral was premature

I love it when I am SPECTACULARLY wrong.

Just a few days ago I wrote a post dedicated to marketing intangible products, in which I said things like this:

…when I started attending trade shows in the mid 1980s, I would go by booths and pick up company case studies and white papers and stuff them into a bag. (Booths and sponsors that provided such bags were VERY important.) Today, some vendors don’t even have printed case studies and white papers in their booths any more; the attendees simply request electronic copies.


In the old days of product marketing collateral, you could get into big discussions about the quality, weight, and finish of the paper that you used to print your collateral. Today, those discussions are for the most part irrelevant, since the recipients print the collateral on their own printers, if they print the collateral at all.

My prior post definitively stated that all of that printed collateral stuff was a relic of the past.

Then I went to an event on Friday.

The event was here in the city of Ontario, although it was way on the other side of the city and it took me 25 minutes to drive there. It was called “Tech on Tap,” and was held at the New Haven Marketplace, a shopping center next to a new residential development in the former agricultural reserve.

The event started with a half hour of speeches, followed by the ribbon cutting for a new microbrewery. Rather than listening to all the speeches, I spent my time visiting all the “Tech on Tap” booths.

When I went home, I realized that I had accumulated a BIT of tangible collateral.

OK, a LOT of tangible collateral.

So much for Mr. “Everything is Intangible.”

So WHY was I spectacularly wrong? I think there were two reasons:

  • I am normally used to attending events in the B2G/B2B space. The city’s event was clearly a B2C event, and individual consumers have different expectations than business/government attendees. (Even for B2G/B2B events, how many attendees end up snatching booth swag for their kids?)
  • While a number of the booths at “Tech on Tap” were staffed by tech companies (robots, ISPs, and the like), about half of the booths were staff by departments of the city of Ontario. Sometimes cities do not rush into tech as quickly as businesses do, and sometimes the citizens of a government do not EXPECT cities to rush into tech.

If you look closely at my loot, you will see that most of it is from city agencies. And there were a lot of agencies represented, including city utilities, police, fire, and recreation.

Oh, and if you look closely at my loot, you will see that I ended up with TWO bags, BOTH from the same agency, the Ontario Municipal Utilities Company. This agency had two separate booths on opposite ends up the area, one staffed by the recycling/trash folks, the other by the water folks. After I had already obtained the green bag from the recycling/trash booth, the person at the water booth insisted on giving me the blue bag (which folds up; nice). And when I started to put the blue bag inside my already-filled green bag, he convinced me that I should do the opposite.

I’m still amused that I, the proclaimer that there will be no “death of passwords,” was myself equally insistent about the “death of tangible collateral.” Neither is going to happen.


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