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One of the major problems most companies have when it comes to choosing the right trade show, is they never do the necessary research to make sure that the show they want to exhibit at is the right show for them. You ask the question, “Why do you want to be in this specific show?” and the response usually is, “Because my competition is in this show.” If this is the only reason why you want to be in that show, then I suggest you invest your money in advertising. If you are going to make the investment in a booth, graphics, and send members of your organization to a specific location where the trade show is to take place then I suggest before making that kind of investment you do your research.
Where do your clients go?
Have you asked your clients what trade show(s) they attend? Why not do a survey amongst your client base? Ask them what trade shows they attend, and why? If you are going to Trade Show A, and the majority of your clients go to Trade Show B you better have a good reason why you are making this investment in trade show A.
Bigger isn’t always better.
Many companies make the mistake when they are looking at trade shows; they always want the biggest, with a lot of people in attendance. This may look good on paper, and if you are trying to impress your boss, but it is no guarantee that you will generate any business. You may have a lot of tire kickers, people that go to most any trade show. They are the cup, pen and t-shirt collectors. The reason they like going to these large trade shows is that they have such a large selection of stuff to choose from. You have to ask yourself, did they come to your booth to talk with you about a requirement, or to pick up one of your give-a-ways? What do you think?
I am not a great fan of give-a-ways.
When you get answers to these questions you will have a better understanding of the show, and if it’s the right show for your organization. The result being, don’t be impressed by numbers of attendees. Attendees in general don’t purchase your products or services. It’s the qualified prospect, who has come to this trade show for a specific reason of finding out what is available. That’s the person who will be buying, not the tire kickers or pen collectors.
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.