Thursday, August 20, 2009

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Thursday, August 13, 2009


When trying to work within your budget, always consider every item:

  • Do I really need an internet connection?
  • How many days do I need someone on site to support me?
  • Do I have to set (or tear down) the exhibit on Saturday, Sunday or after hours (can I do this on straight time?)?
  • Can I reduce my shipment to lower drayage and shipping costs?
  • Is renting a booth cheaper than buying one?
  • Do I really need to continue to go to this show (that's a whole other topic).

Look at the list and be prepared to cut or make trades.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

On-site support

After all of the prep work to get a show (or program) together, it can't fall apart in execution.

Being on show site is the best move you can make to ensure success. Recently, due to cost constraints, a client was asked if they had to choose between an internet connection and a few extra days of on-site support, they'd chose the on-site. While there may be a workaround for the on-line access for most industries, there are few options of not having an on-site, dedicated professional watching out for things at the show, in the booth and for the staff. For example, here is a short list of things that NOT to burden the rest of your staff with:

  • Badge updates
  • Set up and tear down supervision
  • Service bill collection
  • Hotel room changes
  • Directing execs and guests to the booth and receptions
  • Coordinating receptions
  • Ensuring lead collection
  • Catalogue description
  • Local transportation
  • Competitive data collection
  • Subcontractor coordination
  • In-booth staff meetings
  • On-site graphic and exhibit corrections, repairs
  • Space selection for next year

This is just a simple slice of what can be had for the price of travel, per diem and a daily rate. Usually a pretty good ROI.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Working toward face to face

The recent wave of social media tools lend themselves directly to the trade show experience.

The fact is, social networking leads to face-to-face networking.

Face-to-face networking happens in the trade show selling environment. Savvy trade show marketers will link the two types of media to enlarge their sphere of influence and increase sales. Reaching out to the customer starts with a conversation.

That conversation can be electronic in nature so that when you actually do meet face to face, you know more about each other and the cycle can be shorter.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Having a plan and philosophy

A client just shared with me her internal trade show program plan. Great stuff and shows vision.

While it has the requisite charts and graphs showing costs and shows and timelines, it also includes direction, how vendors are managed and a long-term expectation of where the program is headed.

This helps as a directional tool, but also in succession planning.

So, think ahead and write such a document. In subsequent posts, we'll share examples.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Knowing more about your client's business

In order for us, as a trade show suppliers, to provide the best solution for our clients, we MUST know their business.

That is, will the exhibit we provide work with the goals the client has set for the show and their company? If we think we are just filling a space we are wrong. From what the exhibit looks like to how it flows to how the staff is trained (let's start with these three), if it doesn't reflect the company brand or how the product is sold or what the messages are that need to be conveyed, it won't work. Period. And we will have wasted our client's precious budget.

Sure, we'll sell them the first time. But when it doesn't work, they won't be back. Simple as that.

So, we need to do our homework and understand the whole of the problem. Maybe they don't need to even go to a particular show. We need to be real with the client and with ourselves.


Monday, August 3, 2009

The Trade Show Experience

This past weekend, I was contacted by a former colleague of mine from Honeywell. He reminded me of a conversation we had had a number of years ago about the value of trade shows.

He wrote that over the years he has learned that a trade show was "a place where we could interact with customers and sell them on the benefits of products." My correspondent continued about "how everything tied together to accomplish that objective...."

What my friend was talking about was the trade show experience. No matter how many brochures we rain down on prospects and customers, no matter how many phone calls or web clicks we share with them, it really doesn't come together until you meet face to face. And the whole of the marketing experience must be consistent and on message.

My colleague also took it a step further by saying his career has morphed "from being this technical guy who knew everything about round thermostats to becoming a generalist who could create marketing platforms and strategies that were transferable to other products and companies."

That's another benefit of trade shows: they are the cauldron of business in that everything comes together on the trade show floor: marketing strategy, sales activity, competitive interaction and analysis. Employees benefit from being in this fire as it warms them up to the possibilities of the company, the product or offering and themselves. Another friend in marketing for a software firm routinely promotes his trade show managers into product marketing because they "know the way."

Being visionary isn't always about selling the most product. Sometimes it's nurturing not only the selling environment but the sellers.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

A colleague reports: Why Exhibit at Trade Shows?

Our colleague, Linda Musgrove, AKA the Trade Show Teacher, posted a recent video on YouTube. In it she outlines the top reasons to attend trade shows:

  • Reach prospects. It's the best way to reach more prospects for fewer dollars
  • Face-to-face interaction. You can learn more from people in less time meeting them in person.
  • Showing off products and services. Your suspects/prospects/clients and touch and feel your products without having to visit a site or factory or have a sales person call.
  • Gathering leads. Hey, you get to collect more leads in a shorter time.
  • Develop relationships. More time with people means you know them better.
  • Scoping out the competition. The show floor is great for this: see your competitors and their presentation within a short distance of your own.
  • Media exposure. The trade media and popular press will be at the show and you can get their attention.
  • Market research. Learn more about your market and industry in a shorter amount of time, See new products, get real-time opinions from clients or prospects (or industry insiders)

Thanks, Linda, for this good information.


Linda Musgrove is The Trade Show Teacher,