December 19, 2012
Post Show Effort- Impression you and the members of your staff got from the show
It is important that once the show is finished and all of the leads have been accounted for that you have a meeting with your trade show personnel to review what happened at this specific trade show. It cannot be a “Got ya” meeting just reviewing what they didn’t do, but an open and candid discussion. The main questions to be asked should be:
- What did you like about the trade show?
- What you disliked about the trade show?
- What would you do differently?
- What would you want to change?
- Did you look at our competitors?
- Who did you like, and why?
- Who did you dislike, and why?
- How would you compare our exhibit and effort at this trade show to our competition?
- Of all of things that you saw at this trade show what impressed you the most?
Some companies have a form that has basically these same types of questions that they give to the people who stood booth duty to complete. Once they have these forms back then they have their meeting.
It is good for the company because they get some answers. It is good for the people who were at the trade show because they feel their input and opinion means something, and it’s good for the people who are in charge of the trade shows.
October 23, 2012
You should make an effort to get to know the people from the Trade Show producer, especially the people who are in the trenches, on the floor, doing the grunt work to insure the show will start on time and run efficiently with little or no problems. They can be your friend or they can make your trade show a nightmare.
For example: A trade show client had given me the responsibly of not only the training of the booth personnel but also the set up and the management of the booth. Little did I know that one of his company’s people had taken it upon himself, because he was going to make a great impression on the owner of the company, he was going to get the booth set up regardless of who he had to pester, threaten or insult.
By the time I had found out about this, he had alienated the person in charge of convention center workers who you hire to set up the booth. At this point in time the company was going to be one of the last booths to be set up and no doubt it will be late and therefore the company I was responsible for would have to pay over time to get the job done.
What you don’t want to happen at any trade show is to have your booth delivered late to your booth location, and you definitely don’t want to have to pay overtime for setup. It is not uncommon for additional expenses such as overtime and late delivery to double the cost of your trade show.
Well, after having a heart to heart conversation with the manager in charge of services, who I had met, and became friendly with at previous trade shows produced by this company, he relented and because it was me, helped me to get set up and not having to pay overtime fees. When I arrived back in New York I had the company send him a nice liquor basket (I knew he was a scotch drinker) thanking him for his help in make this trade show a success. I have no idea what happened to the company person who was the problem in the first place. All I know in future dealings he was no where to be found.
When you get the opportunity to meet the people from the trade show producer who work on the floor, treat them with respect because they have a tough job to do. When the show is finished, and you did have a successful trade show send this person or persons a letter thanking them for their effort, and copy their management as well. It will go a long way to you making a friend, and I am sure that they will remember you in the future. Many company exhibit managers, trade show consultants if they really know how to work a show will never forget to say “Thank you” to the trade show producers’ people on the trade show floor.
May 27, 2011
Not allocating sufficient time to exhibit
Many companies still make decisions to invest thousands of dollars in a major trade show and do not leave themselves sufficient time to plan and coordinate this effort. Under these conditions they end up making decisions in a panic, and managing in crisis. A company needs to investigate, discuss, plan, coordinate and commit to all the facets of a trade show if they expect to have a successful trade show experience. Considering that only 15% of the exhibitors at any trade show are successful, it is important that a company has sufficient time and that everyone within the organization is aware of the importance of this effort.
You cannot and should not consider doing a trade show and not giving yourself and other members of the company sufficient time to get their act together. What I mean by this is, if you have products to display, you need to get with manufacturing, production or engineering so that you can put on display the best possible product that really shows the true capabilities of your company. Just displaying any old thing that you had in the back room certainly does not give a positive message to either the company employees, or the attendees at the trade show that will be looking at equipment. How will the presentation of the company person in the booth go? “Well, this is not our latest equipment, this is what we had available.” What are you telling the prospect that has stopped to look at your products? This company has so much business, they really are not interested in new clients, or they really don’t care. What type of effort, and how does your company approach going to a trade show?
May 20, 2011
Expensive Literature and a Free Dinner
Some years ago I had a client that was determined to spend many dollars on literature to be handed out at the trade show. No matter what I said he always had a response. “This is old literature, I was going to get rid of it anyway” or “This literature has a lot of information so they will hold on to it”
We had done a few trade shows together, and the expense allocated for trade show material was astronomical. When I confronted my client on this, because I had a tough time presenting a realistic ROI (Return on Investment) that made sense. He said, not to worry it was an accounting thing. I also know when things get tight in a company because of a downturn in sales, accounting takes a hard look at everything, and where they can “cut” because of the expense they do. Having listened to my client talk about his literature – He loved to design, write copy, and show how informative it was, and how the attendees really liked it and no doubt they will be carrying it home to read again and again.
But, they’re so professional! Everyone wants one!
While at my client’s booth at a major trade show at the Javits Center in New York City I really got annoyed, and I confronted my client as he was handing out these very elaborate 8 page multicolored coated stock brochures that must of cost over $4.00 each. When I saw this I asked him how long he had been handing these out. He said since the start of the trade show, which was at 10:00AM. It was now a little after noon, and I asked my client how many do you think you have handed out. He was so excited, when I asked him that because he said that everyone wanted them, they were so professional. Again I asked him how many he had given out, and he said, “About 60” Well I said, I have been telling you for over 2 years that it’s a waste of money to spend a lot on literature to be handed out at a trade show because, according to statistics between 82% to 90% of the literature collected at a trade show is thrown away.
I said to my client, “I will bet you dinner at the best restaurant of your choosing, that I can collect at least 30 of your brochures right here at the trade show” He said, “I’ll take that bet” With that said, I found two of the workers that empty the garbage cans around the trade show floor. I told them I would give each of them $20 dollars if they could find 30 of these brochures that have been thrown away. Then I told them I would meet them back at the booth in one hour.
50 minutes later both of these workers came back with 45 brochures in their hands, and wanted their money, which I gladly gave them.
That evening I had dinner and a wonderful bottle of very expensive wine at restaurant considered the best seafood restaurant in New York City. My client was still in shock, but not over paying the bill, but seeing how much money he had wasted by not listening to me two years ago when it came to literature.
If you do your trade show literature correctly, it will be inexpensive, it will be focused on this show, and also follow your trade show theme, and it will be something they will hold on too, and use for reference for the whole trade show.
What are your thoughts? Share them in the comments, I would love to read them!
May 6, 2011
Who are you selling too?
Too many companies go to trade shows, and have no idea what the profile of their client is. They sign up for trade shows that have the wrong audience, because they have no idea who they intend to sell to. You have to know who your potential client is before you make an investment in a trade show.
Without knowing the type of company, size, industry and product or service offered you are not prepared to be an exhibitor at any trade show. If you are not sure who your client is, then look at your 10 major clients and get as much information on them as you possible can. Look at their SIC codes, their NCIS codes, industry, products and services.
That should give you any indication of who you should be targeting, and what they are buying.
Business is a game.
Business to many people is a game, but it is a very serious game. Consider the fact that as an owner or President of a company, you have the responsibility of the people who work for you.
In this day and age there are a number of associations and government organizations that will help a company to succeed. Know who you are dealing with and know who you should be dealing with.
April 18, 2011
Companies that exhibit without a trade show plan.
If a company signs up to be an exhibitor at a trade show, and they have not developed a trade show business plan, they are just attendee with a booth.
Trade Shows are expensive.
If a company intends to invest $15K to $250K or more in a major trade show they need to have a plan that will articulate what they intend to accomplish, how many qualified leads, based on their pre-show effort, they expect to obtain and their return On Investment (ROI) in the trade show.
More than just ROI
Besides the ROI at a trade show, an exhibitor should be looking at their Return on Objectives (ROO). Some exhibitors may not be focused primarily on generating opportunities, but on increasing their sphere of influence, on being noticed, on being consider a major technical resource for a particular industry. Both the ROI and ROO have to be taken into consideration when developing a marketing plan for a trade show.
The Trade Show Plan
There should be an overall trade show plan that takes into consideration all of the trade shows where the company will exhibit for the year. Then each trade show should be able to develop its own marketing plan for trade show success. The reason that each show should be unique is that the time of the year, the competition and industry are always in continuing change. What is happening at a trade show in an industry in January may not be the same for that industry in June.
This plan should be part of the company’s overall marketing plan, and comparison data should be made available to management that will substantiate and support their commitment to these trade shows.
For years companies have used two marketing plans, the first covered all of the advertising and literature required to present the company products in an effective way. The second, was a “add on” to the existing marketing plan that covered trade shows. If the company didn’t make its numbers in the third quarter, the first marketing causality was the trade shows budget. The marketing manager in his or her wisdom could show that they reduced their expenses by eliminating the trade shows for that quarter, or for the rest of the year. The problem with this approach is that it will now take the company twice as long to come back up to the original sales level because more effort has to be put into “cold calling” and unqualified sales opportunities.
It is interesting that a company will have a sales person sit down and follow up on leads submitted by a trade publication, but will put qualified leads from a trade show on the back burner. I can guarantee that the majority of those people who filled out a form from a trade publication are just literature collectors, but when you get a qualified lead from a trade show, they really want to do business.
April 8, 2011
The trade show directory can be a major marketing tool for any company providing they do their homework and list the relevant information.
The information listed in the directory should be clear enough so that if someone wants to contact the company they will contact someone in sales that is familiar with the specific trade show and can answer any questions pertaining to what was offered by the company at the trade Show. The information should consist of company name, location, products or services on display that follow the theme of the show, but most of all identify someone with in the organization as the person to contact regarding company product information that listed in the directory. If possible, put the name of one of the sales or marketing managers who did participate in the trade show, and perhaps even stood booth duty.
Some companies use the directory to their advantage in the sense that they want to keep track of all leads that came from a specific trade shows. Trade show directory are usually taken back to the attendees office to use as a reference guide. They use it to see who of their competitors exhibited at the trade show. They review other companies’ information to see who introduced new products. Just because the trade show is over does not mean that you will not get some residual effects from have good information on you company listed in the trade show directory.
If you want to do business, make it easy for someone to contact you. If the person calling your organization, and is put though a series of questions to get someone in the sales department, it doesn’t start off the relationship with your company on a positive note. But if a person calls your organization, and has a name of a person to contact the caller will feel more comfortable, and you as the person in the sales department will know exactly what they are calling about.
Make the trade show directory work for your company. The attendees may throw away the majority of the literature that they pick up at the booths they visit, but the trade show directory, in most cases, will be with them long after the trade show is finished.
March 11, 2011
One of the problems faced by most companies that participate in a trade show as an exhibitor is the amount of paperwork that has to be completed to become an exhibitor. It is a step by step process that, over the years the trade show organizers have tried to make it easier, or more efficient, but they certainly do not have the exhibitor at heart. In most cases they have tried to make it easier for themselves, not necessarily for the exhibitor.
The sequence of events that happens is usually the same for most every trade show. You go to the trade show web site, request a copy of the trade show form, print it out, fill it in, and return it with a check for the cost of the booth space. When that is done then you will usually receive a loose leaf binder, with sections for each of the exhibitor’s requirements.
Drayage, Electrical, Signage, Carpentering, and booth furniture are but a few of the major items listed.
Each has a date assigned to when you have to have this documentation completed and returned to the company, obviously with your check. If you get the information completed and sent back in a timely fashion, usually you will receive a discount for these services.
If you don’t pay attention to these time frames it will cost you more money because you will be penalized for not having your information returned in a timely fashion.
You as the person responsible for the trade show should organize your information so that you know exactly when the information requested must be returned.
If you use a spread sheet listing the name of the item, along with the date the information is due back at the trade show producer’s home office it will certainly help to keep everyone focused, efficient and on time.
Your spread sheet for completions of trade show tasks should contain the following:
- Name of product or service requested
- Date the documentation and check is required back in the Trade Show Producer’s Office.
- Name of the person at the company responsible for this task
- List of names, if necessary that must approve this request
- The check # and when the check must be ready. (How many times have companies missed the dates because the checks were not drawn in a timely fashion, because Finance wanted to hold on to the fund until the very last minute)
- The date the information was completed and sent back to the Trade Show Producer. (Send registered mail or FEDX so you have complete accountability. It’s worth the few more dollars for the peace of mind)
- Make copies of everything, and keep them in a binder for quick reference.
- In fact, you should make at least two copies of all of the documentation that has been completed and returned to the trade show producer.
- A copy is for your accounting department, and a copy to take with you to the trade show. Why? Well it is not uncommon for the trade show producer to loose your information. You do not want to be standing in line waiting to make arrangements for your carpeting or carpenters, and when you get to the counter and the person ask your name and says they cannot find your information, they are certainly not going to stop and look just for your information. What usually happens is that you are put at the end of the line and when they have taken care of all of those exhibitors that have documentation, they will then attend to you. It makes for a last minute trade show set up, and certainly doesn’t put you as an exhibitor in a positive frame of mind.
- Anticipate the potential problems, makes copies and have then with you at the trade show. It will certainly save you a lot of time and frustration.
- Also make a form that list all of the expenses associated with this trade show. As a person responsible for the trade show you need to be able to justify the cost of this show, based on the amount of business opportunities (Leads) that this trade show produced.
January 3, 2011
If you are going to a major trade shows for the first time don’t expect to get a booth that is necessarily on the main floor, or in one of the best locations. If it is a popular trade show, there may even be a waiting list.
Where do you want your booth to be in a trade show? The obvious answer is, “where you will get the most traffic” But if you are new on the scene, or new to this particular trade show, you may not have the luxury of being able to pick where you want to have your booth.
When you sign up for these trade shows, if you read the fine print the trade show producer has the right to move you to another location for what ever reason.
Some exhibitors prefer to set up their booth by the cafeteria, or where the coffee wagon will be parked. Others want to be right across from the bathrooms. Then some want the end of the aisle, so they can have traffic flow in two directions. Before you make the commitment review the floor plan, find out what other vendors are in your area.
If there is a new major company that is also exhibiting for the first time at this trade show you may be able to get more traffic at your booth by just being located close to that major companies booth.
Considering that most major companies spend more on advertising, and to generate interest it may be ideal to take a booth as close to the major company as possible, and see how many of the attendees that come to see this major company you will be able to convince to stop at your booth.
October 11, 2010
Many trade show producers make arrangements, and recommend certain shippers to handle the freight going to and from a trade show for exhibitors. I am sure you realize that when they are recommended, that the Trade Show producer is in someway compensated. Many trade show producers have certain vendors that they work with on every trade show that they produce. My problem with that is they may be good in Las Vegas, but the same company in Tampa, Florida is awful. When you are in charge of trade show you cannot be right 90% of the time. There is too much at stake here besides a substantial amount of money. If your equipment doesn’t arrive on time and in good condition it has a domino effect on everything else that is happening. The trade show producer is not going to stop everything to make sure you are up and operational. In most instances if your booth is not there by the time the trade show opens you cannot set up your booth until the first day of the show is completed and then only when everyone has left the trade show floor. Some Producers, if you missed the time for set up leave you with just an open space and a standard trade show sign supplied by the trade show producer, nothing else.
You also have to be careful that you don’t have literature or supplies delivered directly to your booth. In many cases you will pay per 100 weight price. What this means that even if it is an envelope if it is delivered to your booth by a Producer/vendor you will pay as if it was 100 lbs being delivered. There are horror stories of companies who have not heeded the cost of drayage and they have paid over $125.00 to have an envelope delivered to their booth.
It pays for the exhibitor to read the documentation supplied by the trade show producer, to shop around, or to contact other exhibitors from his or her area that will be attending the same trade show. With a little investigation on the part of the exhibitor, and to pay attention to the information from the trade show producer, the cost for shipping and receiving their booth and other items to the trade show location can be cut by 10% to 30%.