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Most business gets done at the water cooler, or on the golf course, or fishing or quail hunting. It’s the incidental things that spring up that make all the difference.

Technological zombies may be in danger of stifling sales by removing the personal touch. With the latest technological advances and so many customers using online resources to do business, you may be wondering if trade shows are still relevant. While the consumer can get the necessary information about the product or services that you offer through the Internet, a computer doesn’t have the same capabilities to personalize their experience.

The Value of Being There

Checking the website of www.brandfeverinc.com for any clues of trade-show extinction in marketing budgets, I found a clever idea you can’t do over the internet.

A blog posts displayed photos of trade show exhibitors who printed carrying bags that had a hole for the handle where you would be joining hands with someone in the photo on the bag. It’s the kind of clever idea that sets off a buzz on the exhibit floor, and you had to be there to capitalize.

Meet and Greet

Trade-Shows

Today’s economic climate can be challenging and trade-show funding allocations are an attractive target for budget cutters. B while a website, social media sites, and the technology of video calling/conferencing can provide feedback and face time, it doesn’t provide the personal contact and group get-togethers that are the hallmark of trade show involvement.

Bruce Broxterman, the CEO of a valve manufacturing company exhibits worldwide: in Singapore and Mumbai at the close of the year and headed for New York City the first quarter of ’14. His company will participate in 35 to 50 shows per year on a budget of $250,000.

“Although trade shows have seen a drop in attendance, we are still supporters of the approach and continue to have success working shows to meet customers, release new products and to see our distributors face to face,” Broxterman explained.

Getting Your Money’s Worth

A trade show may seem like an expensive and out-dated way to expand your customer list. Because of the investment required, a trade show is an event on which you want to seize every opportunity. Here are three things to keep in mind:

1. Seek Coordinated Marketing With Show Management

This is especially important if you’re having a new product launch. Find out what show management has planned, and acquire its media list. You could be a case-study feature in the show’s promotion, or you could sponsor an event to coattail in some meaningful way. Show management is likely to have a special show website and/or Facebook or LinkedIn page, also, in which you should participate.

2. Try To Be A Speaker Or Panelist

Most trade shows have exhibits and seminars or conferences.  Offer your expertise as a speaker or panelist. Be prepared to delivery valuable helpful information and not just a veiled sales pitch. You’ll entice some people to visit you at your booth later for a more detailed, product-specific discussion.

3. Make Your Exhibit Tasteful But Not Tacky

When fighting for attention, you have to be bold, but not offensive. The line can be a difficult one to draw. Pretty girls are a staple of trade shows. But a scantily clad attractive woman who fondles a golf club in a manner screaming with sexual overtones is offensive.  That’s the type of distinction necessary.

4. A Clever Booth Idea?

Doing business in the cloud is feature at many of today’s technology extravaganzas. One company received rave reviews for a gruff talking, bearded, cigar-smoking “angel” who spoke with a Bronx accent and was quite humorous. It was self-deprecating enough to not be offensive to religious people, and conveyed a lighthearted approach to problem solving that fit the company’s well-crafted image.

Make A Lasting Impression

While customer reviews placed in the comment section of a website can allow others to form an opinion on your company, there’s nothing like being able to build that relationship in person. A quality product is important, but can be very similar to other quality products. The deciding factor in a customer decision might be the person with whom he or she would like to do business.

A trade show is a chance to know your customers on a personal level, connect with industry experts, and perhaps even form some strategic alliances.

Keep in mind, too, that trade show attendees are typically those looking to purchase, so it’s a seller’s market.

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Posted by Nadine Swayne

Living in Las Vegas, Nadine Swayne gets involved in industry trade shows. From examining www.brandfeverinc.com, she's relieved to find trade shows still a part of the integrated marketing mix. As most know who have been involved with trade shows, they're also a lot of fun.

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