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    15 Replies Latest reply on Apr 8, 2008 9:43 AM by cajawahar

    Trade Shows: Are They Effective

    frazzle Wayfarer
      I'm planning on doing my first trade show this year. I'm curious if there are others on this forum experienced in vending at trade shows. Are trade shows effective? Did you generate a lot of sales and leads? I know just being present is enough to get your name out there, but what other advice can you give? Should I plan on cash and carry, or is it better just to take orders and ship after the show? Thanks in advance.
        • Re: Trade Shows: Are They Effective
          Lighthouse24 Ranger
          Some are extremely effective, some are a waste. What type of product or booth do you have, what type of show is it, and where is it being held? I can perhaps offer a better idea of what to expect and how to get the most out of it with that info. Thanks.
          • Re: Trade Shows: Are They Effective
            LUCKIEST Guide
            It is great that you are planning on doing my first trade show this year. It would help for us to know more about
            you, your company and the product. If you think about trade shows in general, YES trade shows effective.
            Look at how many different trade shows there are all over the country.
            Tell us more and we can then tailor the advice. Do you have a Business and marketing Plan??
            Good luck, LUCKIEST
              • Re: Trade Shows: Are They Effective
                frazzle Wayfarer
                I sell Halloween products, and it is a Halloween trade show set in Columbus, OH. I am renting a 10x10 booth. I don't have a lot in my budget for an extravagant display booth. But I do have an idea of how I will set up on a shoe string budget.
                  • Re: Trade Shows: Are They Effective
                    Lighthouse24 Ranger

                    HCP (the Halloween - Costume - Party trade show in Las Vegas in March) is the only Halloween-related trade show I have any experience with. Most manufacturers and wholesalers of Halloween products consider it to be a "must" event in the western U.S. About 10,000 retail buyers attend. 96 percent of buyers are there to see new products (the other 4 percent just come to party). Buyers rarely purchase anything to take with them on the spot, but they make their decisions there. About 75 percent place at least one order at the show, and most take away information that will result in orders later.

                    The show you are attending may be smaller, but similar (most trade shows in most industries are) -- so you'd need to have samples of everything with you, but usually not stock merchandise. You need to be prepared to take orders, and to give out information that will make it easy for buyers to order when they return home. A booth doesn't have to be expensive, but it does have to compete with all the others for attention. There needs to be something that draws buyers over to you so you can pitch your products. To build leads, you need to get their business cards or contact information -- which usually means having some kind of silly (but unique or desirable) giveaway that they receive for giving you their time or information.

                    Trade shows like that are really FUN. So even though this is a serious business for you, try to approach it with the idea of making time at your booth fun for both you and your potential buyers -- it will pay off in sales. Hope this helps a little. Best wishes.
                    • Re: Trade Shows: Are They Effective
                      CEO Space Scout
                      I was typing my answer as you answered what it is you do. That is why I stated a generic example.
                  • Re: Trade Shows: Are They Effective
                    CEO Space Scout

                    I have found Trade Shows to be highly effective for some people and no gain at all for others.

                    Some of the things that I see as necessary to make a trade show effective ISN"T how expensive and elaborate the display.

                    Do attend an appropriate trade show for your product.

                    Do have a sign with your company name and if your company name does not immediately let the attendee know what type of business you are in, have another sign that large enough and visible from a few feet away as to what you do. For example: Your company name is Sanders Institute. That is great. What does it do. Have another sign that says what you do in every day english not in the jargon of your industry and from a WIIFM (what;s in it for me) format. Say it is Sales Training, don't say that, instead say something like the benefit to the customer "Average Increase for your Sales Force of 50%" . Of course make sure it is a true statement.

                    Have plenty of brochure on hand but not all out at once. Anything scarce is valuable. If you have tons of them sitting all over or you hand them to everyone, they will most likely end up in the trash and on the floor.

                    Be up and active. I've been to many trade shows where the people are just sitting back behind the table talking to each other waiting for people to walk up to them. Be up, make eye contact, look happy.

                    Absolutely have a drawing, even if it is just blank paper and you ask them to write their name, address, email and phone number. BUT make sure the drawing is for something your provide so that you actually are getting leads not just people who want something for free. And make sure the gift is valuable and not just something you do all the time, like a free consultation if you always do that.

                    Also, have, in addition to the drawing, a sign up form for people who want more information via phone and email. Many people may be interested but don't want a long sales pitch right now.

                    Dress, talk and act professional for your industry.

                    And as a final note. I have had businesses myself and have consulted businesses, that our entire basis of new clients was only 2 trade shows a year. So, follow up on the drawing names and sign ups, immediately after the show and then every few months and if they are not interested, get their permission to check back with them in a few months again.

                    Good Luck.
                    • Re: Trade Shows: Are They Effective
                      frazzle Wayfarer
                      Thanks for all the advice. The trade show I'm doing is Midwest Haunters Convention. It's not as big as the Halloween Costume Party trade show mentioned, but for the line of products I sell it is an ideal venue. I've been doing a lot of research about trade shows, and many of the websites I've been to echo many of the points made here; don't sit or wait for people to come to you, smile and be friendly, etc.. The drawing/contest I'm really keen on doing, if for no other reason than to generate leads. One of the websites I was at suggested even to have multiple smaller drawings throughout the day rather than one big drawing because this will keep people coming back to your booth to see if they'd won.
                      I've spoken to a few vendors that have worked this trade show and they insist it's better to have at least a few items for cash and carry. They even recommend buying shopping bags with my company name on them, that way when people are walking around the rest of the convention they are advertising my business.
                        • Re: Trade Shows: Are They Effective
                          CEO Space Scout

                          From my experience in many states and many trade shows, the bags for people to carry around only help the really big companies. They are a large cost for the return.

                          And as for the multiple drawings for cash and carry to keep people coming back, again, I say why if it doesn't get you any business.

                          Instead, we would have only one drawing and have first second and third prizes. And everyone who signs up, gets something. And we do all that a few days later and you do not have to be present to win.

                          Again, the prizes we give were something we do so that every person who participates is more likely to want and need our services.

                          Best of luck.

                          • Re: Trade Shows: Are They Effective
                            LUCKIEST Guide
                            Trade Shows Are Effective. This is my second answer. Long ago in my prior life I was an Accountant.
                            One of my clients rented out a convention center and did a annual trade show for a specific industry.
                            I had a booth at the trade show and since I was the only accountant there, I picked up a large number
                            of small businesses. Mostly year end tax returns, BUT small businesses grow.
                            Overall it was a good experience. Met interesting people and picked up business.
                            So yes trade shows are effective, LUCKIEST
                          • Re: Trade Shows: Are They Effective
                            tradeshowguru Newbie
                            Trade shows can be a great marketing tactic or a drain - it all depends on your planning process, inviting your prospects to see you, great boothmanship and how you follow the leads up after the show. Thre are many factors that can make or break your show experience. First look to the show organizer for help and resources. They want the first time exhibitor to be a success - they want them to come back for next year's show. Then look to the show's general contractor, they will have ideas to help you. Make sure you fill out all your forms on time to get the best prices for show services.
                            • Re: Trade Shows: Are They Effective
                              LUCKIEST Guide
                              Sales tips for a successful trade show.

                              Know the customers
                              Learn the customers decision making process.
                              Build relationships with the customer .
                              Focus on the customers business needs.
                              Show how your product or service meets customers needs.
                              • Re: Trade Shows: Are They Effective
                                puzzleman Tracker
                                Frazzle, I just got back from doing three trade shows back to back to back. I have been doing them for over 5 years now. I can relate what works for me and the others around me.

                                I make sure that I am at the front of my space and talking to everybody that walks by to see if they are interested in the products that I am offering. If they are not interested, I look for the next one. When you get them interested, let them know why your product is the one they need for their store. Make sure that everyone you talk to gives you a business card or if they don't have one (yes, this really happens) have 3X5 cards that you can fill out the info on. (One trick I use to get people attention is to greet them by name when they walk by. Everyone has nametags on and say "Hi ________, have you seen this new product that we are offering? You get their attention for just a couple of seconds and some times that is all it takes to get them in the booth and start your sales pitch)

                                After the show do three things: 1. Follow up 2. follow up 3. Follow up. I make more of my sales after the show than during the show. I make sure that I follow up by phone, fax, email and snail mail. don't be a pest but you know the deadlines for your industry and follow up monthly or bi weekly reminding them of the deadline to get the product.

                                Drawings, giveaways and free shipping are not motivators to buy. In my many discussions with buyers, they all have told me the same thing. I buy your product because I like not because of some drawing or giveaway. These people are there to make money from your product, if they don't think they can make money with it, why would they want free shipping?

                                I 'm sorry this is so long but I feel real strong about all of these times and could gone on much more.
                                  • Re: Trade Shows: Are They Effective
                                    frazzle Wayfarer

                                    No need to apologize for the lengthy reply. I'd rather be given an informative answer instead of a simple..."yes, trade shows work". Thanks for the insight. I still may hold a drawing, but I do realize that it doesn't promise sales. I'm sure people will enter not because they want to buy my product, but rather they want something for free. And yes, I plan to follow up, follow up, follow up.
                                  • Re: Trade Shows: Are They Effective
                                    Ed O'Gee Adventurer
                                    They are extremely effective in finding new sales leads, but you also want to be aggressive a get on the spot sales as well.
                                    • Re: Trade Shows: Are They Effective
                                      cajawahar Wayfarer
                                      do you have an innovative product/services
                                      then trade shows will always give benefits