Tradeshows – Part 2 of 2 Exhibiting At A Tradeshow

How
successful your tradeshow experience will be and your return on investment will
all be pre-determined by how well you do your job BEFORE you ever get to the
tradeshow.

 

1)      You will need to determine your
objectives before attending the show:

a.       Produce sales at the show

b.       Target key buyers

c.       Encourage early ordering

d.       Produce sales leads/Requests for
information

e.       Improve client relationships

f.       
Demonstrate
products

g.       Attract new customers

 

2)      Many exhibitors determine the
success of a show based on:

a.       How many catalogs were given out

b.       How many attendees they scanned in
the booth

c.       The number of sample requests they
received

d.       How many people attended a special
presentation

 

While
these may all be “feel good” indicators of success, what you do with this
information and how many objectives were reached after the show, will actually
determine the success of the show.

As we
know, many attendees will walk down an aisle and take every single catalog,
promotional sample etc without the slightest thought about using your company
or even knowing who you are and what you sell. Your sales team may even scan
these people in to your database or take a business card . . . never to be
heard from again. At the end of any tradeshow it is amazing to find out from
hotel staff and convention centers how many catalogs and promotional items are
left in hotel rooms or found in the convention center trash. Your marketing
message may not make it to your intended target!

 

It is very
important to seriously think about who you are targeting at these shows and
why. Do you want to give out 1000 catalogs to 1000 attendees when a fraction of
them may ever buy from you?

 

Here is a
list of Top 10 Ideas for Having a Successful Tradeshow

 

1.   
Set
specific show objectives

2.   
Train
your staff on how to qualify a potential new customer. Make sure they know the
products benefits and features.

a)      If you are a one man operation –
hire a spokesperson or model to help you with your booth. There are many
persons that hire themselves out for tradeshows. Ask others in your area, call
the Convention and Visitors Bureau in the area where the tradeshow will be held
and get the name of some possible temporary employees.

b)      Send them a copy of your catalog
and a link to your website prior to the show.

c)       Have them meet you at the tradeshow
on set up day. Have them help you set up your booth and discuss the product
line as you are putting your wares or information out on the shelves. The
spokesperson does not have to know everything there is to know about your line,
but a few hours of training can make them look like a viable part of your team
and help you with your potential customers.

3)      Give your staff a list of preferred
customers and target list of new customers to watch for at the tradeshow.

4)      Make sure they scan all visitors
coming to the booth. Many show badges will now show you which attendees are
qualified buyers, staff members or visitors.

5)      Give your staff a list of
qualifying questions to ask possible new customers. Make sure they are not
questions easily answered with just a yes or no. An example might be “How
familiar are you with our product line?” This is a great lead in for your team
to explain the line.

6)      Train your staff to take good notes
and to follow up with any promised information directly after the show. – If
possible, they can call in to the home office and have this information
delivered to the attendees email or sent to their office before the attendee
leaves the show.

7)      Make sure to send out Pre-Show
invitations with some sort of show promotion.

8)      At the show use the pre-show
promotions to strengthen your relationship with the preferred or targeted
customer.

9)      Use “at show” promotions to attract
more attention to your products while in the booth. One of our customers gave
away an entire line of stress reliever animals, to highlight a new book series
featuring animals, to a group of educators. Their booth always had high
traffic. The tie in was perfect and that just added to the sale!

10)   Make sure to follow up after the
show. Send out another email to those who attended. Add some type of offer to
the email, or reiterate or extend the “at show” offer. – Send a “We missed you”
direct mailing to those who could not attend or to those you wished to target
but did not see while at the show.

 

More
in depth information on “How to Exhibit Successfully at a Tradeshow,” can be
found at CEShoppes.com under News/Calendar.

Tradeshows – Part 1 of 2 Attending A Tradeshow

Our company attends one to two large tradeshows per year, a smaller regional show and sometimes a morning “road show” held at a local hotel in our area. With the number of shows out there, sometimes it is hard to decide if you are getting your return on investment.

 

Here are some tips to having a successful show.

1)      Try to get a list of vendors that will be attending the show prior to attending.

a.       Use this list to highlight those vendors you use on a regular basis – these are the booths you will want to visit first.

b.       If you have the ability, run a report on the amount spent in the previous year with each of these vendors (this helps you when you are talking to them in the booth, as well as determining whether you should keep them on your vendor list, increase your sales with them, or find out what they can do to help you increase your sales your objectives with either new products, learning more about their existing products etc.

 

2)      Look at the remaining vendors and do some research on them to see if what they offer is something you may have overlooked in the past. Highlight these booths in a secondary color as booths to visit after you have visited your primary vendors.

 

3)      Most shows have some sort of education – get a listing of the classes, information on the instructors and assign your team to attend the seminars that most align with what your priorities are for the year. This could be classes on good customer service – which of course you would send your customer service reps to, but also your receptionist, and even your accounting department may be able to benefit from learning a few customer service tips on handling difficult customers and helpful organizational tips.

 

4)      Make plans for your attendees to be a part of the key note speaking engagement. Usually this is a very motivational speech that everyone walks away feeling good about themselves and with some tidbits to help them stay motivated after the show.

 

5)      Every company has objectives as to why they send their staff or salespeople to tradeshows. Make a list of these objectives. We usually provide our staff with a packet of information that includes the hotel information, directions to the convention center (if applicable) the booths we want them to visit, and the objective for each of the booths. This could be asking about new products, getting a case history on who purchases the products and the time of year their products sell best. It might just be to put a name with a face. Whatever your objective is, you need to put that in writing so everyone understands the purpose of their place at the tradeshow.

 

6)      Make sure to add in some fun for those attending the show. Sign them up for the tours or gala parties that will most likely be offered through the event coordinators.  Or plan a dinner at a themed restaurant or a night out at a famous night spot.

 

7)      When the tradeshow is over – plan a staff/sales meeting and go through your list of objectives. Find out how you can use what they learned at the show to better your business.

 

If you do these seven things, you are sure to have a much more motivated work force and you will reach your objectives.

Happy New Year! Now let’s set those goals . .

Enough time has passed to digest that the New Year is finally here. The relatives have gone home, the children are back in school and things are getting back to normal. Now its time to reflect on last year and what worked for you and what didn’t. You can do this both personally and for your career.

 

The beginning of the year is a great time to examine those things you did over the course of this past year that helped you or your department reach its goals. Evaluate the use of your marketing materials, tradeshows you may have exhibited in or attended and how well your website works for you. Get together with a group of peers or your department and reflect on each of these items. Get their input for how you can do it better in 2009.

 

Don’t forget to take a look at morale. The right attitude plays a huge part in making your goals. How you feel about your work environment and your surroundings can make or break you. If you are the head of a department, set goals and celebrate even the smallest achievement. It can be as simple as flex time, or a pizza party.

 

If you are setting personal goals make sure they are attainable. Set smaller daily or weekly goals, so that they are achievable and then reward yourself when you reach your goal. Even taking time out for a bubble bath and a good book can be a celebration. Just make sure you reward yourself with something special.

Here’s to 2009!

Ah, the coming of the New Year. Just like going on vacation, I like to return to a clean home. So, just before we leave, we dust and vacuum and make the beds and fill the dishwasher. – Today is the last day of 2008. We have been “Cleaning house” for the last couple of weeks in our office, so that when we come back from our “Vacation” and start the New Year on January 6 – with a “clean” place to work, both physically and mentally.

Looking over the past year, we realize that we can be better at being more efficient. We will work harder on becoming completely paperless. We will recycle and condense more than we did in 2008. The clutter will be gone, and this will allow our minds to be more open to change and to focus on working with our customers more efficiently too.

We look forward to working with each of you in 2009. We know that our customers are looking for change and we are here to help you in any way we can. Beef up your marketing, create new campaigns, keep in touch with your customers. We can help you with all of these.

Here’s to making 2009 a great year! Let us know how we can help you. Send us an email, visit our websites or give us a call!

PowerTools Again – Its good for you!

Last night was the third meeting of our women’s networking group from the idea of PowerTools for Women in business by Aliza Sherman. It amazing how much good a 2-hour session can be when everyone is focus on the questions at hand. As I explained in a previous post it is not a leads type group. We are successful women business owners who come together over wine and cheese to discuss our businesses, how they work, how they don't and what it takes to build it to the next level.

We had a newcomer in our group last night who was so amazed and what we were discussing, that she said., “I am going to give up therapy, this is so much better!” and it is. Our topics last night included how to sum up what you do in one sentence. It is not as easy as it might sound. Our company has been looking in to different forms of growing the business and one of the websites I went to recently was a VC company. They had a list of criteria for sending information to them and the very first piece of advice they gave about writing your business plan (In PowerPoint slides no less) was how to sum up what you do in one sentence.  Some of us came up with very good sentences and others had long run on sentences. However you describe what you do, it should bring up more questions from those who ask allowing for more dialog.

We also discussed “the biggest mistake we made in business and what we learned from it”. This was very comforting to know that everyone goes through pretty much the same things you do in running your business.  We each feel better knowing that someone in their business made the same mistakes that we might have made in the beginning of owning our business or even more recently. When each business woman explains what they learned from this experience, it allows us too to learn from their mistakes and help correct our thinking on how to either avoid this particular mistake, or if we haven't made that mistake yet and are about to, how to handle this same situation better.

This has been such a great experience! Next month we are going to discuss creating a name for our group, as of right now we call it PowerTools. However, people look at you sometimes strange when you tell them that is what the group is called. So, this is “homework” for next month’s meeting. Every city should have a group like this. It is a very empowering meeting in a very casual and relaxed atmosphere.  When you leave the meeting you feel energized and ready to take on the world the next day!

PowerTools for Women – Sharing

Powertools for Women in Business  10 ways to succeed in life and work - Aliza ShermanRecently, I read a great book by Aliza Sherman called “PowerTools for Women in Business – 10 Ways to Succeed in Life and Work. “  Her book outlines 10 power tools that women should use to become more successful. The first of the tools is to share your stories. We all have stories of how and why we decided to start our own businesses, what motivates us, and what keeps us up at night.

This got me thinking that other business women in my area may feel the need to share their stories like I do. I love to talk about my business and what I am doing that is new. I love to share and help friends with their businesses too. There are a lot of networking groups you can attend, chambers and leads clubs you can join, but where do you find likeminded women who want to talk about their businesses?

Not just the “This is what we do for a living, and this is how our company can help you” type of talking, but the “I started my business 12 years ago and this is why I started it, this is where I have been and this is where I think I am going. However, I am not sure I am doing it right and maybe you have the same thoughts or have done the same things and went about getting where I am going in a different way,” kind of talking and sharing.

Inspired by Aliza Sherman and her book, last night was my first attempt at putting together a group of likeminded women in our local area. I invited 19 local business women with the criteria that they had to be the owner or at least half owner of the company. They had to have an outside office or retail establishment where they paid rent and they had to have at least one employee. I didn’t want to include the women who sell at home parties or run their business as a hobby. Business women who have to worry about paying the rent, how to hire, train and retain good employees are a bit different than women who work from home. In the end, we had a small group of 7 from all types of businesses and walks of life.

The evening was very successful, each woman was able to talk about why they started their business, the excitement of owning the business and what motivates them to get up and do it again every day. I had planned on five questions for the evening, and a kind of rotation so that everyone would at least answer three of the five; however after 2-1/2 hours we only had the chance to answer the first three questions. Each woman’s “sharing” lead to more sharing and by the time it was over, to my surprise, I was asked if we could make this a bi-monthly event.One of the women, the owner of our local newspaper, said she liked this group because we were all successful women who didn’t “need” something from each other. No favors, no leads, no commitment to do anything other than to be truthful about ourselves and our businesses. I loved the evening because I realized that by listening to others, many of whom I did not know and would never have approached for advice, let alone business advice, I could find new ways to work my business, and I made some new friends. I can’t wait until our next meeting!

 

How We Work a Tradeshow

As I said in an earlier post, our entire office team went to our industry tradeshow. There were over 850 booths, with literally thousands of products. I am a bit anal when it comes to what happens at a tradeshow. We have 3 things in mind when we attend.

First, are the education classes; we all need to learn new things about the business and what the trends are for the year. Second, is to see the products that are shown in our new catalogs and third, when and where the fun events are held that we are going to attend while at the show.

To show you how important this is to our business I am going to relate a little story in regard to how I go about giving direction. Some will say it is overkill, but this is how I manage things in my life. I am a huge fan of lists.

It is important to see and feel the items that will be appearing in our catalogs. Our first catalog of the year, “Select,” was mailed out in January, so it was very important that the vendors in that catalog be sought out and each employee see the products first hand. It is also important to ask questions about each of the products, like who purchases this type of product? Do you have any case studies on your products that we can use? Production time, imprint colors, set up fees etc..

During the show, I sent each one of my employees on the show floor with a 10-page document. The first page was just an outline of the education classes they would be taking and a schedule of what everyone else was taking, including room numbers and times. The rest of the document outlined the vendors that were in each of our new catalogs, and their booth numbers, the overview of the educational classes, the events that they needed to attend and how to get to the hotel and convention center.

I just happened to stop by one of the booths, after my team had been there. My hands were full of catalogs and samples (I hadn’t felt the need to bring the bag provided to me the previous day). The booth just happened to be that of a bag and box vendor, and I am sure they thought I was only stopping in the booth to get a “free bag” to empty my hands. – However, I started asking them questions about their “Green Products” and told them that they were one of the vendors that were in our upcoming catalog called “Idea Showcase,” a catalog with over 14 pages of “Go Green” products that would be mailed at the end of that month.

I asked if maybe some of my team hand stopped by at some time during the show and asked questions about their products as well. The representative in the booth started laughing and said ‘Was that you who made the long list of vendors and booth numbers? I saw pages in one of your employees’ hands and asked if we were on some sort of list and they showed me this thick packet of pages of what they were supposed to do here at the show.”

We both laughed. It was at that moment that I realized my team of employees must think, at times, that I am a bit over the top. The factory representative showed me the rest of her product line, a lot of bags and boxes made from recycled paper, and sustainable goods. I won’t go in to detail here about all the exciting new products we saw, including the items from our new catalogs, but I will give you a link if you want to see the new line of Custom Books for Green Living.

By the way, I did get a free eco-friendly bag to put my items in before I left the booth.

Goals and Achievements

January is always a time to pump yourself up for the New Year. You make lofty goals, plan and compile lists and work very hard on implementing them. One of the best things we could have done for ourselves and our business this year was to attend our industry tradeshow. We spent a full day in education classes, which I will talk about in another post, and we visited over 850 supplier booths to get new product ideas to help our customers. But the most exciting thing we did was attend a keynote with Sara Blakely, the founder and owner of SPANX.

If you have not heard Sara speak, or heard her incredible story about her struggle to bring her product to market, a product that has revitalized the $2 billion hosiery industry, you are missing out. In search of the right undergarment she cut the feet out of her pantyhose to wear with white pants and open-toed shoes. At that moment, Sara knew she had a million-dollar idea. 

I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. At least the women in the audience, all around us, had tears in their eyes; either from laughing at her humorous anecdotes of how she embarked on her adventure or from the fact that she didn’t stop trying even when no one would listen to her idea or help her manufacture a prototype, which eventually built her a $100 million company in just seven short years!

Sara didn’t have venture capital, she didn’t have a sugar daddy, or the type of connections some have when starting a business. All she had was an idea, and sometimes a plan, and a lot of perseverance to make her dream come true.

Her struggle was real. She shared her thoughts all along the process of working through her idea and getting it to market. They weren’t generalizations, but “here is what I did, and these were the problems I encountered along the way”.  She was answering the same type of questions I ask myself about others who grow their businesses fast, and I am sure others ask: Did they know someone in the business? Did they have a huge pile of cash available to them? Was her idea purchased by someone in the early stages that catapulted her to fame? The answer to all of these questions is no. She honestly didn’t have a clue as to how to bring her product to market, just tenacity and a burning desire to make a difference for women who purchased undergarments.

I asked my staff to tell me what was the most important information they learned from the keynote, and here is an excerpt of their answers: “I definitely did have some tears in my eyes when Sara was speaking. She was very powerful and very insightful. She made me believe that regardless of your background in life, if you have a mindset and you’re willing to do whatever it takes to succeed in whatever project you’re setting out to achieve, it can be done!  Another key point is: Dedication. Everyone told her that she wouldn’t get anywhere with her ideas and that her invention was "crazy". She was determined to make a name for herself and her product even though everyone had their doubts and nobody wanted to help her market her idea (in the beginning).” Michelle"

If you weren’t trained to do your job, how could you make it better?”  This quote was powerful to me. Jaime 

As we look ahead to our plans and ideas for 2008 and beyond, I hope that my staff and I can use Sara’s story to help work through any issues that come up, keep sight of our goals and try to find better, more efficient ways to do our job.