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Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain? Then you'll keep wasting your money at dental trade shows

Do you remember the tale of the Great and Powerful Oz? Sure, you may remember how he appeared to Dorothy and her friends once they arrived in the Emerald City, but do you remember how he got there? A simple magician from Kansas, he was blown to Oz in his hot air balloon. Dorothy used a house; he used a balloon. They both ended up over the rainbow.

Once he arrived in Oz, the former sideshow magician was seen as an all-powerful wizard. It wasn't that he had changed, but rather what people believed about him had changed. Did it really change who he was deep down? No. After all, we see him transform back into that simple magician before our very eyes when Toto pulls back the curtain and exposes the Great and Powerful Oz as nothing more than a man with some snazzy special effects and cool levers. Yet the Great and Powerful Oz was "Great and Powerful" because perception often rules reality. It certainly did in the Emerald City.

As we barrel into 2013 and kick off the beginning of the dental trade show season, perhaps it's time for us to collectively yank back the curtain on trade shows that annually attract tiny crowds and cost your company enough money to repave the Yellow Brick Road a time or two. Oh, certainly you hear the booming voice and see the fire leap forth when you talk about not exhibiting at a show ... but I’m not talking about the "Big Six" shows. Each of you reading this know exactly which dental trade shows are a waste of your time and money and should be skipped each year, yet you keep falling for the same lines.

You can't think about missing this show! (insert flames here) What about all of the customers you won't see? (insert thunder for added effect) What about all of the leads you won't get? (insert more flames, this time shooting from the eyeballs) You know that Consultant X is speaking this year! (loud boom here)

Sure, Dorothy and her friends shivered and cowered at first and followed out the commands of the Great and Powerful Oz ... but, ultimately, did it get them what they wanted? Nope, it wasn't until Toto pulled back the curtain and they saw the magician in his true state that they each had their wishes fulfilled.

You and your company need to look past the flames, smoke, and bellowing voice. Look at the real ROI of what you are getting when you spend a couple of days somewhere with minimal sales or leads generated. Could the money you save be reinvested into more resources to make your sales force even more successful?

If your company exhibits at the type of trade shows I describe above, I believe it's time you step up and say enough is enough to these shows. It's time you step up and say, "I’m sorry, but it's just not worth the investment."

Am I saying boycott all dental trade shows? No, but I think it’s time change happens and you are able to see some kind of ROI on the chunk of change you’re spending when you exhibit.

Let's work together to make dental trade shows be viewed as assets rather than costs or liabilities. However, to get there, it's going to take some brains and a heart. Are you ready to pull back the curtain? As an industry, it's time we did just that.

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