Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Trade show goals

The Brown event calendar is full of activity.  We are traveling to over 20 trade shows in 2017 and that means 2-3 per month.  We invest in these events because, unlike traditional advertising, trade show floors give us the opportunity to talk directly with our customers.  And it allows potential customers to see for themselves what products are the best choice for their business.  You can access our upcoming events on our website.

Many people avoid going to shows for many reasons.  Often, they do not want to take themselves out of their day-to-day operations for concern of decreased production.  Additionally, many believe that their production flows well enough so they do not need improvement.  Or, some folks are intimidated by the atmosphere of a convention hall and they think it is money wasted.

What can you get out of it?

Let's start with the money issue.  All of the shows that we display at would prefer that customers pay for something.  However, as vendors, we have paid for the hall space.  All of the vendors offer "get in free" passes to the convention floor.  This is a priceless resource.  Though it will not get you into seminars, it does give you the opportunity to create your own seminar as you walk.

Huh?  My own seminar?  Yes.  

Let's say your shop recently struggled with a certain job.  Either the job came back from a dissatisfied customer or was not the quality you would like.  Maybe the profit was too low.  Now is the time to develop a plan for the next time that kind of job comes in.

Your best resource are the vendors on the floor.  These people are trained in the newest techniques available.  Many of them have been in the industry for a while and they can give advice as to what really works, both old and new tech.  Additionally, their job is to talk to people.  For those who are uncomfortable talking with people, all you have to do is to get them started talking and then listen.  You will gain tons of information.  Yes, maybe a sales pitch will be thrown in to the mix.  But, don't let that intimidate you.  It is your wallet.  You control how that part of the conversation progresses.

Another resource wandering the floor are the people just like you.  Sit down for lunch and chat with someone you don't know.  Trust me, these people are all in the same situation.  They came to learn something and see what will help their business.  Your experience may help them and vice versa.  And, though the food is expensive, you will want to sit and rest from time to time.

While you are resting, take a look at what is in front of you.  And while you stroll, look in each booth.  You can casually look away and think, "I don't need new shirts" but you never know what you might want next week.  So look at the new products in all the booths, machinery as well.  You may not have a capital expenditure on your to-do list, but new tech might help you.  And, your competitor may be looking so be aware of what is possible.

Take a seminar.  They are beneficial.

Finally, if you have time a a little cash, take some classes.  As a suggestion, do not get too technical with a class.  If you do not offer 4 color process, don't overwhelm yourself with that information.  However, new information on printing that you do often is always helpful.  Additionally, don't use all your time in seminars.  The floor time is often more useful and practical than what you learn in a seminar.

From the vendors point of view... what not to do.

We have over 30 years of trade show experience.  We have seen all types wander the halls.  There are a few things we are pretty sure of.  First, all those catalogs and brochures you are picking up will probably get filed away and never looked at.  You might take the time to put them in a file cabinet, but typically they will all end up in a box and then in the trash.  Not because it was not well intended information but you can get too much of a good thing.  In our day of technology, access to the web will get you all of this information and more.  So skip all those bags and only collect the items you are truly interested in.

One type of attendee avoids conversation.  They are either intimidated by what they do not know, or what they cannot buy.  Let's start with the idea that you are there to learn something.  So if you are unsure of your knowledge, ask a question.  Someone will provide information that will be helpful.  As for what you cannot buy, that can change.  So be prepared and look at future purchases.

On that note, please remember that the industry is full of experts.  Always get more than one answer to your question.  Compare the information and do what makes sense.  Also, if you are just looking, please ask some questions.  Gather some information that will help you in the future.  However, remember that these people are there to talk to everyone and typically are there to sell something.  

And they are there to sell something.  Do not get fooled by bells and whistles.  This is your money and your business.  Look at the best way to spend your hard earned time and money.

Speaking of your time and money...

Enjoy yourself.  Relax and take a stroll down cool new-stuff lane.  Your shop can run for a day or so without you.  If it can't then use this as an opportunity to learn ways to fix that.  Have a nice dinner afterward and talk about what you saw.  If you are there for more than one day, use this dinner to plan the next day's endeavors.  These are fun events with friendly people who truly want everyone to do well.  

So stop in to see us at Brown.  We have plenty of new tech to show you as well as advice from a group of people who have been doing this for 3 generations.  You might learn something and have a laugh at the same time.