October '21

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60 THE SHOP OCTOBER 2021 SPECIAL REPORT: TRADE SHOWS SPECIAL REPORT: TRADE SHOWS "There should be a post-show discus- sion about how participants performed, including what worked and what didn't," says Orvel Ray Wilson, a speaker and coach on trade shows (guerrillagroup. com). "Which steps were effective, and which were not?" Consider what you were looking to achieve and assess whether or not you were successful. "If something worked, point it out and plan to repeat it in the future," says Drapeau. "If something did not work, dis- cuss the reason. Was the problem with the show or with your team's performance?" Answer the tough questions such as: "How could attendees have improved their use of time?" Should the business send more or fewer people to the next show? Or perhaps not attend the show at all, because there are not enough potential contacts? Bonus tip: Have each attendee prepare a short report on three ways the busi- ness can improve its return on investment when attending the next show. 5 TIP Follow Up With Vendors Once you've briefed your col- leagues on the show, follow-up with important vendors. Trying to reach out to everyone will seem over- whelming, since you'll have your regular duties to attend to at the same time. So, start with a few that have the most potential. Above all, say the experts: make it per- sonal. Remember that the most important reason to go to a show is to build relation- ships, not to get information. "Write handwritten notes," suggests Heiman. "In an age of email these can be especially effective because no one does them anymore. Say things like, 'It was nice to meet you. I had so much fun dis- cussing how the industry has changed over the years. I look forward to continuing our relationship and discussing business trends.' And include your business card." Social media can also personalize your feedback. "Are some vendors active on LinkedIn? If so, connect with them," says Heiman. "And don't just connect. Interact by liking or sharing posts they have made that would be interesting to people who follow you." In some cases, says Heiman, it is appro- priate to schedule a phone call: Maybe the person has special knowledge, and you Done right, the time and effort involved in attending a show can pay off in happier customers and a fatter bottom line. Trade Show Readiness Quiz Will you get the most profitable return you can from your investment in attending a trade show? Give yourself 10 points for each Yes answer to these questions. Then total your points to see how prepared you are for your next show. Have you decided on a general goal for attending the show and communicated it to your staff? Have you set specific goals for each attendee in terms of number of booths to visit and specific vendors to see? Have you assigned specific seminars to each attendee? Have you trained each attendee on how to collect information at the show? Have you trained each attendee on effective networking techniques? Have you assigned attendees to specific networking events? Have you drawn up a list of the most important colleagues to see and have you contacted them in advance, if appropriate? Have you drawn up a list of customers you will contact with news about the show? Have you set a date and time for a staff follow-up meeting to share what was learned at the show? Have you set a date and time for a separate post-show discussion about staff performance? What's your score? Over 80: Hooray! You are ready for your show. Between 60-80: Time to fine-tune your planning skills. Below 60: It's a good idea to re-gear by instituting ideas from the accompanying article.

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