October '21

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62 THE SHOP OCTOBER 2021 SPECIAL REPORT: TRADE SHOWS want to know if he or she could present virtually to your company. Bonus tip: Never rely on vendors to follow through. "We have found that exhibitors fail to follow-up with 80% of their leads," says Wilson. "Always take the initiative." 6 TIP Share with Customers Maybe coworkers and vendors are the most obvious people for follow-up. But don't overlook customers who could not attend the show and who will appreciate your thoughtful- ness and expertise if you inform them of what you learned. "Communicating your show experi- ence with customers can be one of your best marketing tools," says Powell. "You want to stay visible to your customers, and you want them to see that you are staying knowledgeable about the industry. Con- sider sharing the top three things you took away from the show, and explain how they will benefit your customers." Bonus tip: Updating your customers in person is always preferable, but consider including some select information in your social media posts and your news- letter. Or cover the topic in a webinar or video you email to your customers. THE BIG PICTURE Getting the biggest bang from the bucks invested in attending a trade show depends on how you sweep up after the dust has settled and the glitter has faded. Smart trade show follow-through begins before you even leave for the show and continues long after you have returned to your shop and debriefed your coworkers. Done right, the time and effort involved in attending a show can pay off in happier customers and a fatter bottom line. "The convening of such a large audi- ence at a trade show creates a profound and impactful experience for everyone attending," says Drapeau. "Face-to-face mar- keting remains very strong in today's world, despite the explosion of digital communica- tions such as social media. In fact, the two channels complement each other." New York City-based journalist PHILLIP M. PERRY publishes widely in the fields of business management and law. SPECIAL REPORT: TRADE SHOWS You may want to assign employees to attend particular educational seminars. Tips for Exhibitors Exhibiting companies will also want to get the most from their trade show experience. Success starts with under- standing why you're exhibiting and how to best-achieve company goals. "Given the time and expense involved with traveling to a trade show, you want to make sure you have a plan for getting the most return for the investment you make sponsoring a booth," says Peter LoCascio, a Salem, Oregon-based con- sultant ( "And you want to follow up with every prospect after the show is over." LoCascio offers these tips for success: Be alert to the best prospects "You want to be able to quickly identify target prospects when they enter your booth, and you can prepare for that by doing your research," says LoCascio. "Analyze the attendees. The show salespeople will be able to pro- vide a list of attendees showing their titles and specialties. "Maybe you are interested in speaking with only 5% of the people attending the show," he adds. "Know who they are." Communicate your business mission Avoid the flashy activities too commonly seen in trade show booths in favor of professional presentations that appeal to prospects' needs. "The trade show isn't a carnival or circus where you can use any form of borrowed interest just to generate booth traffic," says LoCascio. "The people you want to see are the people who want to talk business, not be entertained." Know your business objectives "What are your goals and objec- tives from a sales point of view?" asks LoCascio. "And what will be your return on investment? How can you train your staff to meet those goals?" Emphasize personal networking Train your staff to communicate well with strangers. "Many members of the younger genera- tion are no longer interested, capable or comfortable in dealing face-to-face on a tradeshow floor with prospects," warns LoCascio. "They are accustomed to texting and to social media. But the trade show is a living experience, and you have to be prepared to look people in the eye and discuss products and services."

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