Looking ahead to a new year, here’s a resolution that could serve your business well: Don’t overlook the importance of trade shows! Looking at them from an exhibitor’s vantage point, there are many reasons why the opportunity, the investment and the preparation can have a positive effect on your annual sales. Here’s what you should expect to put in to – and get out of – industry trade shows.
Exposure: Trade show presence is perhaps the best bang for your buck when you feel you need to add new customers to your database. You're dealing with a captive audience. One that has paid, as you have, to travel, sleep and eat in the location of the show. These folks are looking for answers to their needs. Or for something new and different.
Regional Presence: If you aren't large enough to have regional salespeople servicing different parts of the U.S., you can create a tactical approach that gives you presence in those areas where your competition may have a stronger hold. Or where you need to begin building a foothold.
Professionalism: Attending a trade show as one of the designated booth personnel should not be thought of as a “perk.” You’ll need to send your best sales people, most engaging customer service reps and/or your most savvy marketers to capture the attention, answer the questions and secure the loyalty of new customers, all in the span of five minutes or less. (Less if the purchasing capacity of the visitor to your booth is limited; more if you sense the production turns to be substantial).
Communication: Don’t think this begins and ends on the show floor. To the contrary, if you don’t begin contacting attendees before the show, and maintain contact after, you aren't doing justice to the opportunity before you. Many shows make attendee lists available for you to rent, or to be included in overall show promotion. Your own database for a 500-mile radius surrounding the show venue can serve as a starting point. Let them know you are coming, offer an incentive to stop by the booth and meet you, follow up with your leads to offer specials or thank them for coming. But whatever you do, do the math to see for yourself how the ROI of exhibiting in trade shows can be the New Year’s boost your business needs.
Alice Wolf is the manager of education and publications at Madeira USA. An industry writer, she produces several webinars each year, encouraging embroiderers to try new things and succeed within the decorated-apparel market. Contact: ; (800) 225-3001, ext. 107.