Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Vendors at Genealogical Conferences

It is interesting which of the genealogical vendors attend genealogy conferences and those who don't. I can't figure out if those who don't just figure that they can sell to genealogists and don't have to actually meet them or talk to them or what? For example, at the BYU Family History and Genealogy Conference, admittedly a smaller conference, there were quite a few vendors there, but compared to the large number of venders who were not there, the turn out was vanishingly small. This is particularly true of genealogical database programs. The same three or four program vendors were at the BYU Conference as were at the RootsTech Conference. The three software companies who come every time and participate are
  • RootsMagic
  • Ancestral Quest
  • Legacy Family Tree with Family Tree Maker is conspicuously absent. I have yet to see a Mac genealogy software company show up at an genealogy conference. I wonder how they expect to sell programs? of course, can rely on its vast television and media advertising. The smaller companies must rely solely on word of mouth, because I have yet to see even an add in a genealogy publication. Take Family Tree Magazine for an example. The same vendors that show up at the conferences advertise in the magazine. How in the world do program developers of programs like the Apple Macintosh programs, Reunion and MacFamilyTree expect to sell any programs? Maybe they don't.

When was the last time you saw, say, a Reunion ad? Or an ad for a program like MyBlood? Every once and a while someone will tell me about a program I have never heard of previously and I will try and find it. Some of the programs barely have a Web presence, much less every show up at a genealogy conference. Are they afraid someone might ask them a question? Or worse, afraid they might sell a few programs?

If I were a genealogy software developer, the first thing I would do is go around to all the conferences and demo my program to all the genealogists. Who else is in the market for a genealogy program? Next, I would visit as may genealogy societies and associations as I could find and talk to them about my program. Guess what, the three software companies I list do just that. They also have webinars and give away prizes at the conferences. All of which leads me to believe that the other vendors don't really care about genealogy or selling programs.

Just some thoughts. But one thing is certain, the genealogists love to have Bruce Buzbee, and staff Gaylon Findlay and staff and Geoff Rasmussen and staff at the conferences. Yeah for them. Thanks for coming. And thanks to all the other vendors that take time to come to the conferences also. It is fun to see the products and fun to talk to the people about their products.


  1. I couldn't agree more! The reason I even buy products for genealogy is because I see them there, hear them talk, and watch the demos. It's different when someone takes the time to talk to you about their product versus seeing it on the flat page of an advertisement. I appreciate the time they take in coming to the conferences. I might not buy it the first time I see it, or even the second, but each time I have it in front of me causes me to think about it that much more.

  2. Living in the UK I have a completely different take on this.

    Here we mainly have Family History Fairs ranging from local village events to county or national events.
    Most data providers attend many of the county and national events often even sponsor them.

    However the few conferences we have do not provide a market place for such providers as in the main those who attend come for the talks and have limited time to visit stands between talks.
    In addition the cost of providing a stand at such an event outweighs any profit (from advertising) such events generate.

  3. James, I was so impressed that Darrin Lythgoe, developer of TNG was present at Rootstech. As an Australian user I valued the opportunity to meet and discuss the product with Darrin. I was most disappointed that the the other product I use, The Master Genalogist, was not represented there.

    I cannot understand why vendors do not take the opportunity to show their wares to such a large number of potential users who are gathered so conveniently in one location.

  4. Your article addresses the better-known software companies. However, the impression I have is that many genealogy programs are developed and maintained by individual programmers. Such programs are more subject to the skills and life events of that one person. They are less likely promote their products in person, and may tie the development of their product to a particular niche market.
    B.G. Wiehle

  5. Merely curious. How was Bruce Buzzbee at the BYU conference when he was at the Family Expo at Overland Park? I know that BYU conference started first and I didn't notice when he arrived in Kansas, but if he personally covered both, he must be VERY tired today!
    AS to Reunion, I heard about it by word of mouth, as I have heard about MANY software programs.

  6. Frustrated Sue... yes, he *is* tired ;-)

  7. I love your thoughts about this - and I agree. My only question is... Would we be better served if these creators of the tools we use went to the classes at these events rather than hang out in their booths the whole time. I guess I just sometimes feel like they do not approach Genealogy the same way that I learn about in the conference sessions. Any thoughts?