Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Too busy for trade shows?

I received a call from an organizer for one of our industry's trade shows. They wanted our opinion on adding another show to the schedule. Where, when, and the silly questions, why? The why question got me a bit ticked off. Not at the expo person, but at the attendees.

Please, let me explain.

Trade shows are regional events. They last 3 days and offer opportunities for the attendee and the exhibitor. In questionable economic times, all avenues for advancement should be explored. We need new ways to grow our business including new products, marketing ideas and production tools. Where do people get this information? From trade shows!

For the attendee:
At a show, which for each attendee is really only a 1 day visit, you can meet a number of people who can help you. First, there are industry expert, and those who claim to be, wandering the floor and offering seminars. Next, there are vendors. Listen to their pitch, you might learn something and get a new idea. Finally, there are other people like yourself. Do not commiserate, ask questions of what is working. There are real gems out there that you could apply to your business and increase your sales and margins.

As a thought, you are never too busy to get more business. Summer is no different than fall. The baseball season is no different than Christmas. If your business cannot handle you learning something new for 1 day, then you have other things to worry about.

For the exhibitor:
Quit your belly-achin' about how many shows you have to do. When else are 2000+ people delivered to your lap for possible sales? You can't get that kind of traffic with anything else, especially face-to-face intervention. Trade shows are a huge creator of product interest and customer service. Get out there and talk to the people on the floor. It is well worth your time.

For the expo company:
Ok, we know you are in this for profit. We all are. However, you will get a bigger draw if you look like you have a bigger show. If you rented a hall and you did not sell all the booths, hand out a few free ones you didn't sell and the exhibitors will bring more stuff and you will look bigger. Costs you a little carpet and the attendees will get more out of the event.

As for your expansion, look for new markets. The eastern seaboard is full up. So is Florida and Texas. Have you noticed that the rest of the country is full of textile decorators? You are putting on regional shows. Pick a new region. Try the bay area, maybe Arizona. The midwest is great, but Chicago's been done. Come on, mix it up a little. That is the only way to get new attendees.

Now you know how I really feel. It is the attendee's "too busy" response that irritates me. It is the exhibitor's "too many shows" response that irritates me. It is the expo company's "same-place-same-stuff" concept that irritates me.

I have mentioned before, we all in this to make money. We want to earn enough to enjoy life. The best way to do this is the sell more at real margins. Selling more means offering new products and new ideas. Real margins mean good tools and understanding the flow of business. All of this is found on a trade show floor. So attendees, wipe the ink off your hands; exhibitors, put your stuff on a truck; and expo companies, show some flexibility.

Hope to see all of you at all of the ISS, NBM, DAX, SGIA and NNEP shows. Let's look for more opportunities in the future.